“Be the change you want to see in the world.” Ghandi

Jason Lee Middle School Solar Project 2020

Empowering youth to make positive, impactful change in our community and the world!

Project Facts

Empowering youth to make positive, impactful change in our community and the world!


  • Our solar project will be a 99.9kW solar array installed on the roof top of the athletics/electives addition to the building (see photo) at a cost of $198,000.00.

  • This solar project will be the first solar installation in the Tacoma Public School District and serve as a model for future innovative technology projects in the district and beyond.

  • This array will save the school between $10,000 to $14,000 per year which would be $250,000 to $350,000 over a 25 year period and their life would be longer. If arrays were placed on 10 schools it would save the district between $2.5 and $3.5 million dollars over 25 years.

  • Schools are a perfect location for solar installations because they generally have large unobstructed roof tops, produce energy during the day when the bulk of use occurs, and provide a living learning laboratory for the students.

Project History

This project is the culmination of work done by Jason Lee students in Mrs. Hall’s science classes. As part of our study of renewable energy sources, students began researching the feasibility of a solar installation on the school.

In February 2019, Gwendolyn Newport, Sammy Firkins, and Annie Son presented their solar proposal for Jason Lee at the Governor’s STEM Education Innovation Alliance meeting at the Washington State Capitol sharing their project with Governor Inslee, committee members, and school participants. Their presentation received significant attention from STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) educators and professionals, some who immediately contacted Tacoma Public School board members and administrators in support of the project.

Gwen, Sammy and Annie presented our proposal to the school board and gained their approval. We committed to raising the money for the project through grants and fundraising. Our Watts Up! Fundraiser will help us raise the $198,000.00 necessary for making the FIRST SOLAR INSTALLATION IN TACOMA PUBLIC SCHOOLS a reality! Our goal is to install the solar array in July 2020.

We have been awarded a $50,000 grant towards the project from the Evergreen Options Program with Tacoma Public Utilities.

We have also been awarded a $45,000 grant from Bonneville Environmental Foundation, $30,000 towards infrastructure and $15,000 in kind for educational training and supplies for our Living Laboratory. Additionally, we have received a $25,000 grant from Pierce Conservation District Green Partnership.

Thank you for supporting Clean Energy and a more sustainable future!

Project Team

Teacher Leader:  Kathy Hall khall@tacoma.k12.wa.us
Student Ambassadors: Gwendolyn Newport, Sammy Firkins, and Annie Son
Jason Lee Principal:   Christine Brandt
TPS Executive Director of Planning and Construction: Morris Aldridge
TPS Director of Facilities: Thomas Chalk
TPS Project Manager:  Paul Harris
TPS Grants Manager: Cortney Leach
TPS Director of Public Information: Dan Voelpel
Solar Consultants: Sun’s Eye Solar, Dan Hulse


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360 Watt
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180 Watt
50% Panel

90 Watt
25% Panel

45 Watt
12.5% Panel

23 Watt
6.3% Panel

10 Watt
2.7% Panel

Custom Donation

Project Status



Give the Gift of Solar

Give a Gift by Giving instead of presents or flowers this year, honor someone special with a donation to the Watts Up! Jason Lee Solar 2020 Project.



Watts Up! is the winner of the 2020 City of Destiny Environmental Sustainability Award. The virtual awards ceremony will air on Tacoma TV in September, date to be announced.

Oct. 1 Generation 180 Solar for Schools Day, Watts Up! Ambassadors Gwen Newport, Annie Son, and Sammy Firkins will participate in a national panel on solar energy for schools and communities.