Andover Townsman, Andover, MA

November 7, 2013

An eye-popping class guest

AHS students visited by $87,000 electric car

By Dustin Luca

---- — While “show and tell” are three words not frequently heard in the halls of Andover High School, students in one science course were treated to a special guest last Friday: an $87,000 electric car.

The school’s Environmental Sustainability Internship Class hosted an environmentally enamored, scientifically savvy couple from North Reading for a discussion delving into carbon consciousness.

The course taught by Melanie Cutler typically hosts a guest speaker every Friday. Last week, the speakers were North Reading residents John Rogers and his wife, Gigi Garcia-Rogers.

With them, the North Reading couple brought a lecture on reducing carbon dependency in an age where global warming and climate change concerns make headlines around the globe.

Their hour-long talk discussed ways students can reduce their carbon footprint at home and examples for how the Rogers’ household did it — in large part, by ditching the station wagon and buying a 2013 Tesla Model S electric car.

The vehicle, inside its sports car-like shell, is an electric car through and through. It charges through a power outlet, uses brakes that help recharge the battery mid-motion and can generally travel 240 to 260 miles per charge, Garcia-Rogers said.

While versions of the Model S go for around $40,000 to $60,000 to start, the Rogers invested in a number of upgrades in the vehicle to make it ready for the New England winter weather, bringing the final bill to $87,000, according to Garcia-Rogers.

After discussing their purchase and how they made the commitment, the couple surprised the students with a trip to see the car, which was hidden by the corner of the school’s field house.

The car left students buzzing as they examined the vehicle from front to rear, even getting inside to check out and go through its systems and built-in instrumentation and features.

While none of the students said a Tesla purchase was planned anytime soon, some said seeing one in person left a lasting impression.

That included Maddie Moulden, whose family recently cut back on red meat to reduce their carbon footprint based on how cattle farming contributes to greenhouse gas emissions.

“It just reinforced what I already knew and showed me I made a good decision,” she said. “I definitely think, obviously not to this extent, but how you can buy a new car can save up to 18 percent on your efficiency... it was a lot more than I ever expected.”

Fellow student Tim Awiszus said he would likely look for ways to make his next set of wheels run off the grid.

“Right now, I’m not looking for a car, but as I get older, I’ll definitely think about this stuff,” he said.

Bringing in people from the community to provide their own form of testimony on an issue helps get ideas going for the students, said Steve Fink, an Andover resident closely tied to the program.

“The original idea was, ‘Let’s get people who do stuff,’” Fink said. “They would be models for the students on what their career could be.”

In many cases, students who may be considering a certain career path could finalize their decision after meeting someone who has been successful in the field, Cutler said.

John Rogers said the environmental internship program is a great program because it allows the real world to reach through the school’s walls and touch students who will soon enter it.

“Climate change is pretty serious stuff, and there are pretty serious solutions,” Rogers said. “It’s great to have an avenue to reach kids who are really thinking about this stuff and connect them with the issues of the day.”