RAINBOW DISTRICT—Rainbow District School Board (RDSB) is once again among the top 10 fastest growing school boards to receive EcoSchools certifications for the 2018-2019 school year. To date, 60 percent of Rainbow Schools have earned certifications, 21 percent higher than the provincial average. These schools include several on Manitoulin Island.
This year, 27 schools achieved EcoSchools certifications, including among them Assiginack Public School, Central Manitoulin Public School, Charles C. McLean Public School, Little Current Public School and Manitoulin Secondary School. Seven schools achieved a gold certification, 15 achieved silver, and three achieved bronze. In a first, Central Manitoulin Public School (Mindemoya) and R.L. Beattie Public School were certified platinum, the highest level for Ontario EcoSchools.
Certification recognizes achievement in six key areas: ecological literacy, energy conservation, environmental stewardship, school ground greening, teamwork and leadership and waste minimization.
It should be noted that CMPS also won a Go Green Globe Award in 2015. In the recognition of this award at the time it was noted, “CMPS had received a Toyota Evergreen Grant to support sustainability, with flower beds, vegetable gardens and trees being planted. Fresh fruit and vegetables are harvested for the breakfast program and the flower beds contribute to bird and monarch butterfly habitats. The outdoor re-greening projects also provide excellent opportunities to integrate environmental education into everyday learning. The Go Green Team leads a number of initiatives including the school’s composting program and events such as boomerang and lights out lunches, and Turn It Off Tuesdays. Go Green members perform regular audits to monitor food waste, recycling and energy use. Students and staff participate in activities such as the Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup, and celebrate international events like Earth Day and Mountain Day. Staff and students continue to build prosperous relationships with community volunteers and partners to sustain their efforts.”
David Wiwchar, principal of CMPS, told the Recorder on Tuesday, “One of the main teachers that needs to be recognized for her efforts towards the school receiving the EcoSchools platinum certification is Cory Davy. She is very enthusiastic in eco-programs and at the school, in developing initiatives like school-wide composting with every class in the school having a compost box, and a large composter set up in the school yard.”
“We have litterless lunch days, where no garbage goes to the school trash as students are encouraged to not bring in anything for their lunch that needs to be thrown out or can’t be composted,” said Mr. Wiwchar.
“Cory (Davy) spearheads the Earth Day events every year, where each class visits Wagg’s Wood, and around the school and outside there are areas set up where teachers explain things like the importance of keeping plastics out of the ocean. It is a fun day for the students and very educational because they not only get the information but they are actually out of the school in the forest and learning about the importance of nature. All the students and teachers get involved in the workshops. She helps set up various stations where the students visit during the day and learn about the environment and earth,” continued Mr. Wiwchar.
“The local food movement is alive and well around the school, with the school holding the annual Fall Fair, organized by Ellen Ferguson, the local food garden, and with visits for example by Chuc and Linda Willson from the Kids Can Grow program,” continued Mr. Wiwchar. “Another initiative we have at the school is the salmon micro-hatchery where the Gore Bay Fish and Game Club provides salmon eggs for the students to raise and hatch and then release in an area stream every year; and the quilt squares project, led by Cory where students made quilt squares and they are now displayed all around the community.”
“There is also the No Mow Zone at the school where a strip of the back field has basically been turned into a hayfield in trying to attract bees,” continued Mr. Wiwchar. “The grass is now up to your knees, and Hydro planted two pear trees there and I provided an apple tree for the students to grow so basically an orchard has been started as well.”
“The Ontario EcoSchools program provides students with proficiencies, perspectives and practices that will help them become environmentally responsible citizens inside and outside of the classroom,” said Judy Noble, superintendent of schools and chair of the RDSB’s environmental committee.
“Each year, I am amazed at the strategies staff and students implement to reduce their carbon footprint,” said Director of Education Norm Blaseg. “Even the smallest of changes can have a profound impact on our health, and the health of our planet.”
“We are extremely proud of the work being done to make green a vibrant part of our rainbow,” added Mr. Blaseg.