LYNN — A small group of Lynn Vocational Technical Institute students are spending their summer switching out inefficient lighting at their school, which is projected to save the city energy and money.
The six Lynn Tech students taking part in the project, which involves switching out the fluorescent lighting at the school with energy-saving LED light fixtures, are doing so through the city’s Summer Youth Employment Program.
According to the Inspectional Services Department, when the entire school is complete, the city could realize a savings of $30,000 annually.
“It’s just something that I thought would be nice to give back to the city and help them save money,” said 18-year-old Luis Diaz, who is going into his senior year at Lynn Tech. “I think it’s important because I think with school being brighter, especially at 7 a.m., it’ll make everyone want to come to school more.”
Diaz aspires to be an electrician after school, and along with the other five participating students, is in the school’s electrical program. As the oldest student in the group, he’s helping the teachers run the team, which he said is a good experience.
The summer youth employment program, which is through the city’s Community Development Department, provides summer jobs to Lynn youth ages 16 to 21 for seven weeks every summer. This summer, 165 Lynn youth have been hired through the program with 14 businesses and 11 nonprofit agencies participating.
This summer’s program is being paid for through a $206,000 state Youthworks grant from the North Shore Investment Board and with $75,000 in Community Development Block Grant funding, which is through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), according to Allison Perry, project operations assistant for the Community Development Department.
The city’s community development department is federally funded and allocates a portion of its HUD funds for the summer program.
Ron Hennessey, head electrical instructor at Lynn Tech, said the school had been using standard fluorescent lighting. There are more than 1,000 light fixtures in the building that have to be swapped out with more energy-efficient LED lighting.
Hennessey said the goal was to switch out approximately 250 lights, but more than three weeks into the program, the students have already surpassed that goal. With more than 250 lights switched out, he’s shooting for doing another 250 to 300 light fixtures this summer.
What makes it more impressive, Hennessey said, is that the group of students is young, with the majority 16 years old. They work from 6:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., which he said is preparing them for the workforce.
“They have exceeded everything I thought,” Hennessey said. “They’re really impressing me and they’re really doing a great job. These kids are really motivated. They really want to do well. They really want to become electricians and this is a great learning experience for them. It helps their city and their school.”
Hennessey said with the switch to LED lighting, they are able to put in fewer lights than they’re taking out. Since the LED lighting is brighter, there only needs to be 75 percent of the lights that were previously in the rooms.
Some of the lights being replaced are original ones that were installed in 1972. The project was needed because the light fixtures in the school were falling apart.
Angel Castillo, 16, who will be starting his junior year at Lynn Tech, said he wants to be an electrician and is learning troubleshooting skills, along with cooperation and perseverance through the project.
Castillo wanted to participate to help the students and the school. He said the project is helping them learn their desired trade.
Bryce Whitcomb, 16, another rising junior, said he wants to be an electrician like his father, Craig Whitcomb, who is the electrical inspector for the city of Lynn.
He said the project is more of a learning experience than anything else. He’s learning how to wire lights and use a ladder properly to change the ceiling light fixtures.
“I would just like to help the school (and) give it a new look,” said Marcos Ochoa, 16, also a rising junior. “It’s definitely a good experience.”
The summer youth employment program is designed to not only help Lynn’s youth gain valuable work experience, but also encourages them to become ambitious workers and dependable individuals. Employment consists of light construction activities and outdoor cleaning at selected sites in the city, as well as clerical placements at private businesses and nonprofit agencies in the city.
“At Lynn Tech, our job is to prepare these students for their trade,” Hennessey said. “I’ve got to get them ready and there’s nothing like doing real live work to get them ready.”