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Solar group funds field trip for Dateland students
For some Dateland Elementary School students, their recent out-of-town class trip was the first time they had ever stepped foot outside of their hometown.
Thanks to a sponsorship by First Solar, Inc.; a group of 18 seventh- and eighth-grade students participated in a weeklong field trip at the Phoenix Zoo July 15-19. Dateland's former student body president, who attends Antelope Union High School, also went.
Students participated in “Camp Zoo,” which provides hands-on education by giving them a chance to work inside the zoo facilities caring for animals and learning how the zoo is operated.
Bob Sloncen with Dateland Elementary School said that students also had leadership and team-building activities as well during the evenings and they also attended an Arizona Diamondbacks baseball game and saw a movie.
“This is the second year we've done this, and it's just a wonderful experience ... The school is really in debt to the generosity of First Solar and what they've done for the students in this area,” said Sloncen. “It's more than giving money — it's allowing them to participate in things that they normally wouldn't be able to do.”
The trip was part of First Solar's ongoing community involvement program in Dateland, where its 290-MW Agua Caliente Solar Project is under construction. The Dateland school is located a few miles from the site.
“Many of our students have never been to Phoenix, and some have never stayed in a hotel,” said Pat Koury, superintendent of the Dateland Elementary School District. “The program is truly a unique, eye-opening and inspiring experience. We're fortunate to have such a great partnership with First Solar.”
First Solar's sponsorship covered all costs associated with the trip including transportation, hotel, meals and activities.
“It's been a pleasure to work with Dateland staff to provide a learning experience for these students,” said Tony Puchta, First Solar project manager at Agua Caliente. “Since 2008, First Solar and the Agua Caliente project team have provided continued support to the school as part of our commitment to the community.” He added that support has included volunteering in classrooms and providing funds for a new bus and athletic field upgrades.
The Agua Caliente Solar Project is a utility-scale solar plant owned by MidAmerican and NRG and is being constructed by First Solar. It will also provide ongoing operations and maintenance once the project is complete at the end of the year.