Located atop “Tiger Hill” in southern, middle Tennessee, FHS just completed its sixth year, and the student body has chosen to add high-tech GREEN to the orange and black colors of its Tiger mascot.

Perhaps you’re thinking, “orange, black, and GREEN?!” Good point. Green might be a difficult choice to add to the school’s color palate, so let me explain.

Lilli Johnson, a Girl Scout Ambassador and 2017 graduate of FHS, is the brains behind “Project Bright Future,” an effort which is adding solar panels to the roof of FHS to save money on the school system’s electric bills and put the school on a path toward reducing its carbon footprint. (Thus, the addition of “green” to the Tigers’ orange and black!)

To bring her vision into reality, early in her senior year Johnson raised $800 in donations and with the help of school officials and Fayetteville Public Utilities, completed Phase 1 of the project.

“So far, we’ve installed three, 100 watt solar panels on the roof, complete with inverters and a meter to measure how much electricity we’ve generated,” said Johnson. “We are already generating enough electricity to power the FHS digital sign in front of the school!”

Project Bright Future complements FHS’s already high-tech personality. In addition to criminal justice, cosmetology, and Future Farmers of America, FHS is just the 5th high school in Tennessee to be certified by Project Lead The Way, a nationwide program that brings hands-on, project-based STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) education to high school and middle school students. At FHS, students can take year-long courses in Introduction to Engineering, Principles of Engineering, Digital Electronics, Aerospace Engineering, and Advanced Placement Computer Science. Notably, next door at Fayetteville Middle School, even the 8th graders are offered a year-long introductory course in engineering. These Fayetteville Tigers are truly high tech!

So, what’s Lilli’s vision for future phases of the project? Well, the FHS Student Council has decided to add more solar panels to the array each year. The entire student body is excited about the project and in late March sponsored a coffeehouse open-mic night at the school to raise money. The coffeehouse raised another $600 – funds which will be invested directly in more panels and electronics to increase the power generated by Project Bright Future.

“The Student Council’s decision to support Project Bright Future is wonderful because it means this will be a student-led and hands-on endeavor with a meaningful impact,” said Johnson. 

Perhaps the essence of Project Bright Future’s success is captured in Lilli’s statement, “Every big difference must start somewhere!” Indeed.

GO (GREEN) TIGERS! 

By Mark Clark, Fayetteville City Board Member and TSBA Treasuer 

For the PDF version of this story, click here.

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If your school system is interested in starting its own version of Project Bright Future, contact Lilli at projectbrightfuture@gmail.com for more information.