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Terra students ensure a green future

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The dedication ceremony of Terra Environmental Research Institute reflected everything about this new magnet high school’s philosophy—learning how to reduce our carbon footprint and sustain the energy we have on our earth.

From email invitations to paperless programs and the ceremonial “ribbon” created by students with palm leaves for the ribbon cutting, the teachers and staff at this first of its kind “green” prototype school carried out their teachings in every aspect to their first ninth grade class’ curricula existing of Environmental Research, Biological Research and Engineering and Robotics.

Conceived in 2006 by educator and District 7 school board member Ana Rivas Logan, the 26-acre, $35-million Terra Environmental Institute, at 11005 SW 84th St., is the first LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Green Magnet High School in Miami-Dade County and will serve as a prototype for others.

According to the U.S. Green Building Council, LEED certification is the recognized standard for measuring building sustainability. Achieving LEED certification shows that a building is truly “green,” using design and construction methods that promote design and energy efficiency, those that reduce the negative impact on the environment and improve the well being of its occupants.

“This is the beginning of green schools in Miami-Dade County,” said Principal Caridad H. Montano. “We had to think outside the box. There are no obstacles for creativity at Terra.”

The students’ ingenuity was demonstrated at the April 21 dedication ceremony with an award winning performance of The Everglades, plant costumes and those who dabbed on soothing essential oils, dispensed green tea and demonstrated a robotic vehicle. Organic vegetable paella was served and seed packers and air plants given as favors. Serving as an energy-saving role model for schools throughout the Miami-Dade public school system, Terra utilizes light responsive photo sensors to dim overhead lights that maximize the natural light in classrooms and hallways. Condensation from air conditioners is used to water the surrounding landscape.

The community has joined in on Terra’s green, educational bandwagon. Peter Jude, director of marketing and community relations of Kendall Regional Medical Center, obtained lab coats for the students and the Sapere Group, a local group of business leaders, raised money for a solar ray to be installed in the school’s butterfly garden.

“I saw Terra’s butterfly garden,” said Kent Crook, treasurer of Sapere and president of Wiremasters Electric and Energymasters, “and there was an electrical outlet being used to operate the water pump. I thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be great for the students to see how we can convert the sun’s energy to create electricity and understand what happens to the solar ray’s efficiency when it doesn’t get sunlight?’”

Energymasters technicians installed the solar ray and now the students have a butterfly garden operating according to Terra’s green standards.

“It’s all about the school and the students, and helping them to learn about sustainable energy and reducing our carbon footprint for future generations,” Crook said.

Wiremasters and Energymasters are full service electrical and energy efficiency companies who provide top-notch electrical services and expertise in green energy sources, call 305-385-9379 or visit .

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