Nanaimo schools recognized for world-saving environmental efforts

By Spencer Sterritt
April 12, 2019 - 3:41pm

Grade 7 student Carson Carbett-Smith removing invasive plants from Wardropper Park as part of school-wide efforts to protect the environment.submitted/Departure Bay Elementary Eco-School

Grade 7 student Alex Nelson using a metal detector to find agricultural artifacts.submitted/Departure Bay Elementary Eco-School

NANAIMO — Two eco-friendly projects in Nanaimo schools are being recognized for instilling hope and a desire for change in the next generation.

The Departure Bay Elementary Eco- School and Coal Tyee Elementary are two of 100 finalists in the 2019 Superpower Your School contest. The contest promotes students who are actively taking on the challenge of helping the environment.

At the Eco-School, the Grade 7 class has removed garbage bins from their classrooms and are now working on separating everything into recycling and compost.

“It gives you hope for the future that this generation will become our leaders one day,” Grade 7 teacher Becky Thompson told NanaimoNewsNOW. “Perhaps our future has some hope for a greener future when our young people care about our environment so much already.”

Her students are working towards making the eco-school zero waste and then share the message with other schools throughout the district.

“It's just part of their thinking now,” she said. “It gives them a lot of pride that the work they've done warranted such a great response and their efforts are being recognized.”

While the Grade 7 Departure Bay Elementary students started this project at the beginning of the school year, the initiative from Coal Tyee Elementary is as old as the youngest students at the school.

An outdoor garden was built several years ago and it has since become a classroom, with tree stumps for chairs and wooden tables used by all grades. Vegetables can be picked from the garden and it's become a hub of healthy learning and sustainability for students and parents.

Coal Tyee principal Doug English said the area is now a calm place for everyone.

“Some kids don't do well in the confined classroom environment but when you put them in an outdoor space with fresh air and more sunlight, some of our kids what are challenged in the classroom thrive out there.”

The school is now looking at expanding their environmental efforts, possibly into the wetland beside the school.

The efforts by both schools will be judged by a panel of environmental leaders. Five elementary schools will be picked and earn $20,000 for new technology.

The top schools will be announced in the weeks leading up to Earth Day on April 22.


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