DENMARK — Madison Curlin and Davontae Singleton were eager to get to work Saturday morning.
The two were part of a group of University of South Carolina students and volunteers working to weatherize two portable classrooms on the Denmark-Olar Elementary School campus, in Bamberg County.
While Curlin worked to seal air leaks, Singleton donned coveralls to check the classrooms crawlspace. Earlier, the group had taken some readings to see how airtight the 24-by-60-foot portable classroom was.
Part of a relatively new program called the Green Schools Initiative being headed by the Conservation Voters of South Carolina, the program is designed to help schools become more energy efficient something that Jenni Asman, program manager for the initiative, says will ultimately help schools recoup money.
The cheapest thing to do is to weatherize, Asman said.
And while weatherizing produces a smaller savings than if schools were to replace windows or HVAC systems which the initiative is also looking into weatherizing costs very little, Asman said.
Volunteer contractors from Retrotite in Irmo, and others from Summerville who were also on the site Saturday estimate the savings could be as much as 30 percent.
Thats an economical move that could help schools like Denmark-Olar, featured in the documentary Corridor of Shame.
Were excited about this opportunity for several reasons, said Thelma Sojourner, the districts superintendent.
Not only does the school expect to see a financial gain, Sojourner said, but the weatherization process will bring in healthier, cleaner air. That should make the portable classrooms, which tend to be too hot in the summer and too cold in the winter, more comfortable for students.
So youre also taking about the environment, she said. And anything thats healthier and more comfortable to be in can impact how children learn.
In a few weeks, the group will check back with the school to compare the readings again and see how their efforts made a difference. Asmans group will then present its findings to the Bamberg School District 2 school board.
Asman said the group hopes to return and remedy other inefficiencies, such as outdated fluorescent lights and the 1950s-era schools original windows.
Touring the inside of the building is something that made an impression on both Curlin and Singleton, who were fulfilling community service hours. Both hope to go into education when they graduate from USC.
Until I started taking education classes ... I really didnt realize the problems existed, Curlin said.
Singleton, who is in his second year at USC, said he was used to the brand-new, state-of-the-art school in Charleston he graduated from.
And then you come here, and its like it doesnt really make any sense, he said.
Reach Lucas at (803) 771-8657.