Hayground School is an elementary-level school for children ages 3 through 14 in Bridgehampton, New York. Founded in 1996, the school takes an innovative mentor-based approach to academics and strives to “create a community of students and mentors who explore together the central questions of human culture in the natural world.”
Hayground Camp, a summer program at the school, takes the school’s core values and transfers them to a summer camp setting. In the early days when the school and camp were first established, it so happened that Michael Sonnenfeldt, Sol’s Chairman and largest shareholder at the time, was a parent at the camp. He alerted the school’s board to the idea of installing solar lighting.
One of Hayground’s core values is sustainability and, as such, it was ahead of its time in considering alternative energy sources on its campus, thanks to Sonnenfeldt’s recommendation. They started by addressing the low visibility on the school grounds’ pathways: 100-watt incandescent bulbs over the doorways were the only source of light.
Sonnenfeldt’s charitable organization, the Goldman Sonnenfeldt Foundation, donated the first solar lights for the school, installed along the pathways in the late 90s. Parents of children attending Hayground played an active role in the installation during the annual Helping Hands Days, when the Hayground family comes together for community service work.
These lights remained in place until 2015, when the Goldman Sonnenfeldt Foundation donated an additional nine Sol solar lights, upgrading the existing lights to a newer model. “The old lights are still working, and were relocated to the property’s perimeter,” explains Jon Snow, who has worn several hats at Hayground over the years, including faculty chair, community liaison, and artist in residence. Parking lot lights were also added later.
“As the school develops and is hosting more and more campus events, the lights have been a great addition to increasing campus safety in an incredibly efficient and aesthetically pleasing way,” says Snow. Watching the technology improve over time was a bonus. “The opportunity to see a nascent technology evolving to provide increasingly better lighting was inspiring.” Furthermore, it allowed students to witness renewable energy first-hand and see the value of sustainable technology.
“Sol was very responsive to our original problems and our needs over this 20-year span,” says Snow. “As one of the facilitators and installers of the solar lights, I was able to pay close attention to the differences that quality light makes to an environment. The lights have solved our lighting challenges brilliantly.”