Glendale Unified students charged up at GWP Utility Day

Students from R. D. White Elementary School learn how senior water systems mechanic Chris Ercek repairs broken water mains at the annual Glendale Water & Power Utility Day at the utility operations center in Glendale on Thursday.
(Raul Roa/Glendale News-Press)

Conservation, safety and preventing power outages leapt off the pages of an instructional pamphlet and became real-life demonstrations and seminars for several Glendale Unified students on Thursday morning.

About 190 fourth- and fifth-graders from Monte Vista and R.D. White elementary schools were invited to the seventh annual Utility Day, hosted by Glendale Water & Power.

Students saw a sizzling Mylar-balloon electrical blowout, an injury rescue, honked the horn inside a 5-ton excavator and utilized gallon jugs to guess how much water is wasted daily.

“It’s really our pleasure to host the students,” the utility’s spokeswoman Atineh Haroutunian said. “When they’re done with all this, they will basically know how we deliver water and power to their homes and about renewable energy, energy safety and conservation.”

Glendale Water & Power customer service representative Cara Lanzafame showed how many gallons of water per day are wasted by non-efficient toilets at the annual Glendale Water & Power Utility Day at the Utility Operations Center in Glendale on Thursday.
(Raul Roa/Glendale News-Press)

Thirteen stations were set up across a large parking lot as groups of 10 to 15 students spent time learning about water and power functions and topics such as water conservation and water engineering, solar education and repair work.

At the LED-lighting tent, utility workers said the city is in the process of replacing its roughly 13,200 lights from high-pressure sodium to more efficient LED lights.

The children, though, were perhaps most excited when a worker pulled out a pair of old 100-watt and 1,000-watt bulbs that had been removed and replaced.

“I thought I would be zapped,” Monte Vista fourth-grader Ben Kim said. “I wasn’t zapped, so I’m having fun.”


Students from the class of Monte Vista fourth-grade teacher Jee Tahk were elated to climb into a 10,000-pound JCB 48Z-1 mini-excavator. Some even screamed with delight when they found and pressed the horn on the digger, dubbed “Lady Gaga” by operator Ray Ayala.

“It’s always fun to show the kids around,” said Ayala, a 17-year city employee. “If they work hard in their math and science classes, they can work here, too.”

At Cara Lanzafame’s “water conservation” table, the utility customer-service representative quizzed students on the amount of water “wasted” while in the restroom.

Youngsters guessed how much water went down the drain when they brushed their teeth (3 gallons per minute) and during a 15-minute shower (24 gallons).

Students were asked to provide their answers by moving a series of 1-gallon jugs into an answer box.

A student creates circular art with a marker as the solar unit spins around. The activity took place at the annual Glendale Water & Power Utility Day at the Utility Operations Center in Glendale on Thursday.
(Raul Roa/Glendale News-Press)

“This is the sort of [Science, Technology, Engineering and Math] education going on in our classrooms, but now it’s taking place with real-life scenarios,” said Virginia Karanfilian, a fourth-grade teacher at R.D. White. “This is my fourth time at Utility Day, and I think it’s wonderful.”

Monte Vista fourth-grader Lucas Amirganian said he was amazed to hear Glendale Water & Power employed 88,000 electric meters in structures citywide.

“I like learning about the street lights and about the [Grayson] power plant,” Amirganian said. “I learned a lot.”


According to Haroutunian, Glendale Water & Power paid for local students to ride buses to the utility’s operation center, located at 800 Air Way, for Thursday’s event.

A morning session was designated for Monte Vista and R.D. White students, while an afternoon offering was reserved for students from Jefferson Elementary and Montrose-based Armenian Sisters Academy.

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