Ambitious duo on their way to turn big dream into reality

Coppell+Middle+School+East+eighth+graders+Stayton+Slaughter+and+Erin+Robins+created+a+petition+to+change+their+middle+school%E2%80%99s+main+source+of+energy+to+solar+power+on+March+31..+Slaughter+and+Robins+took+up+this+project+to+encourage+sustainability+efforts+in+Coppell.

Olivia Cooper

Coppell Middle School East eighth graders Stayton Slaughter and Erin Robins created a petition to change their middle school’s main source of energy to solar power on March 31.. Slaughter and Robins took up this project to encourage sustainability efforts in Coppell.

Varshitha Korrapolu, Staff Writer

Coppell Middle School East eighth graders Stayton Slaughter’s and Erin Robins’ quest to bring solar energy to CMSE started with a short film contest hosted by The Redford Center, an organization that focuses on delivering impactful messages through videography. 

Slaughter and Robins decided to dive into solar energy, as they knew that the budget for energy can be mitigated if solar panels are installed at Coppell ISD schools. After looking into the monetary factors regarding the installation of solar panels, Slaughter and Robins figured that after three years, the investment would break even. 

“When they first talked about getting solar panels at East, I thought ‘That’s a big project; that’s a lot of money,’” CMSE science teacher Jodie Deinhammer said. “If you care enough about it, you could eventually get some kind of headway made into it. I love how they turned the problem into their solution. They are trying to solve the budget crisis. They figured it out and that’s impressive to me.” 

As goal driven students trying to make a difference in the community, the pair strongly thinks they can address sustainability issues at a local level. 

“In the Sustainability Club, we started focusing on the environment and how we can help the environment but then also how that comes back and affects us locally,” Slaughter said. “That’s something that inspired this project, and I think what a lot of people don’t realize is that big things affect little people.” 

I think what a lot of people don’t realize is that big things affect little people”

— CMSE eighth grader Stayton Slaughter

According to CMSE seventh grade science teacher Sarah Grover, this is one of the largest student-led initiatives she has witnessed. 

“[Deinhammer and I] have seen a lot of students do little passion projects and participate in various competitions, but [Slaughter and Robins] have taken it a whole step further,” Grover said. “They are ready to speak to people at CISD. They are really doing whatever it takes to at least be heard. That determination is something that is fresh and new to me and it’s really exciting. Their project and the way they’ve done this is something that I think I will share in my classes for years to come.”

Slaughter’s and Robins’ end goal is to present their idea to the CISD Board of Trustees, the individuals who decide if installing solar panels at CMSE is ideal. However, to present to the board, Slaughter and Robins met with several others such as CISD director of science Dr. Evan Whitfield and CISD chief operations officer Dr. Greg Axelson. 

To establish a sense of credibility, Slaughter and Robins created a petition to illustrate their idea to Coppell citizens and demonstrate that solar panels are advantageous to CISD.

That determination is something that is fresh and new to me and it’s really exciting. Their project and the way they’ve done this is something that I think I will share in my classes for years to come”

— CMSE seventh grade science teacher Sarah Grover

Freeman (an events management and marketing company) executive vice president Adam Charles assisted Robins in creating the petition. According to Charles, marketing utilizes principles that portray the problem, solution and action that the audience should take in a powerful, provoking fashion, which played a role in garnering support for Slaughter’s and Robins’ idea. 

“Quite frankly, CISD should do this with all schools,” Charles said. “I am not an electrical engineer, and I am not on the state electricity grid, so I know there’s lots more complications to it all, but these things are important. Especially for kids, because they can see the direct impact. It helps shape children when they go off into the world to understand that this is how energy is made in a sustainable way. Given that schools predominantly operate in the day in Texas where there’s a lot of sunshine, it just to me seems like a no brainer.”

Not only are Slaughter and Robins bold enough to dream big, but they also defy the idea that only high school students and older people can make a difference in Coppell. 

“These eighth graders, even though they are young, are still trying to make a difference and are not afraid of the things in their path,” Grover said. “They’ll email who they need to email. They’ll present who they need to present to. That’s the kind of courage and bravery I think is really cool. And you definitely don’t see it in a lot of middle schoolers these days.”

Follow Varshitha (@varshitha1128) and @CHSCampusNews on Twitter.