NewsPositively Hampton Roads


Virginia Beach high school students create wind, solar-powered holiday light display at Oceanfront

wind turbine holiday lights display.jpg
Posted at 12:46 PM, Dec 16, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-16 17:54:54-05

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. – Visitors to the BayPort Credit Union Holiday Lights at the Beach will see a unique addition this year: a wind and solar-powered light display.

This particular display, located near 17th Street, is one of many other light displays at the Virginia Beach Oceanfront's Boardwalk; however, the others are not powered by a wind turbine.

It’s a partnership among Beach Events, James Madison University Center for the Advancement of Sustainable Energy, Dominion Energy, WINDSdays and Virginia Beach City Public School’s Environmental Studies Program.

The Environmental Studies Program, which is an academy of sorts, started during the pandemic and allows high school juniors and seniors to participate in a half-day program at the Brock Environmental Center.

“Instead of being a traditional academy that’s a school within a school, we are a classroom that’s connected to the Chesapeake Bay Foundation’s Brock Center," explained Chris Freeman, the director of the Environmental Studies Program.

The students and staff erected a 25-foot-tall wind turbine. Freeman said he's thrilled to be able to teach students real-world topics, and told News 3 it’s been one of the most rewarding experiences of his teaching career.

Senior Jake Holston said he's grateful to have this opportunity and is exploring options of becoming an electrician like his father.

"For me personally, it was just an incredible opportunity. I never thought I’d be doing this sitting in 12th grade English," Holston said.

Joel Rubin directs WINDSdays. He works to raise awareness about clean energy and Dominion Energy’s project of adding 176 wind turbines, which he says will be built about 27 miles off the Atlantic Coast starting in 2024.

Freeman said when visitors see the wind turbine, it sparks a welcomed conversation.

"It gives families a chance to have a counter-narrative and really have students be the focal point of change in a community" Freeman added. "And to connect this with the work Dominion Energy’s doing 27 miles off our coast, is a really powerful thing."

For more information on Holiday Lights at the Beach, click here.

According to the website, tickets must be purchased online and are sold out for Saturday, December 11.

Related: Suffolk grandfather spreads holiday cheer with 1.5 million lights