Alison Smetana isn't offended when teachers see her walking down the halls at Chapin High - and turn the other way.
She knows it means they Love Green.
Smetana is the founder and president of the Love Green club at the school, and part of her quest is to remind teachers to conserve energy at school.
"I've had teachers see me and say, 'Oh, I've got to go turn off my lights," Smetana said.
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Smetana actually founded the club two years ago, but it wasn't until this year that it became active.
The impetus was when assistant principal Akil Ross said too much was being spent on energy bills.
So Smetana, fellow senior Arya Novinbakht, and junior Anna Grimes dissected the electric bill, surveyed teachers and found some ways Chapin High could save a lot of money.
Their goal is to save the school $28,200 on utilities.
For example, they discovered a third of the teachers had mini-efrigerators in their rooms. They estimated if the teachers replaced those refrigerators with shared, larger ones, the school could save about $4,000 a year.
The survey also revealed that about 44 percent of teachers only turned their lights off at the end of the day, rather than every time they left their classrooms.
While the survey itself got many teachers thinking about things they could do to "be green," members took on the task of informing teachers of things they could do to save energy, and encouraging them to do so.
"We are trying to make them aware of what is necessary in the classroom," said Grimes- and what isn't. "We're spreading environmental awareness all over school."
They're making small signs to place near light switches, reminding folks to turn off the lights when they leave. They're also coming up with other ways to jostle memories and encourage teachers and students to be green.
"We want them to turn computer monitors off after school, small things like that," Novinbakht said.
They've turned recycling into a contest, awarding classes who do the best job recycling with pizza.
"We want to get the word out to everybody that when you recycle, the environment gets rewarded but you do too," Grimes said.
And even if students are just participating so they can eat pizza, that's OK. "It becomes a habit," Smetana said.
Not only are Love Green club members trying to spread the environmental word at Chapin High, they want to make an impact on the community as well. They went through trash cans at the Taste of Chapin this fall to sort out recycling materials, and pick up litter along the road in front of their school as part of the Adopt-A-Highway program.
"We found beer bottles, plastic ... it really makes you think about what people are doing while they're driving," said Matt Ivanov, a club member. He and Tayla Gilreath are the underclassmen in the club who will make sure Love Green continues to thrive in the future.
Although current members are also trying to do their part for the future.
They're also offering suggestions for the new high school that will be built in District 5, to make that building more environmentally friendly - like using locally controlled thermostats and motion lights; using more efficient lights rather than the inefficient fluorescent.
"We want to make teachers happy and students happy, while saving money and energy at school," Grimes said. "We're trying to make a difference ... we think we can really change the community."
They're already noticing some changes around school, thanks to the support and cooperation of many teachers and administrators.
"The kids all do this all on their own time," said Paula Bartholomew, the club's teacher sponsor. "They're doing it because it's something they feel passionate about."
On Feb. 7, the club will make its energy-saving presentation to the District 5 school board, sharing their ideas for saving energy and money.
Their ideas and observations have been well received so far. And they know that every little bit helps.
"Some people will never change," Novinbakht said. "But we have to try."
- By Lezlie Patterson for Lexington-Richland 5