The children of today will be the environmental movers and shakers of tomorrow.
It’s with this frame of mind that students and teachers at Linwood Public School last week spent a day outside greening their school grounds.
“It’s so much fun. You get to save the environment,” said Matthew Schwendinger as he took no break from plunging his spade into the ground.
“And you get to miss school.”
On May 14, a warm and sunny afternoon welcomed the students as they dug holes and planted 15 native tree species, 12 native shrub species, planted a perennial garden around the new addition to the school and cleaned up the nature area. They added mulch to a few areas including the butterfly garden.
With a warm sun shining down the prevalent mood was jovial and the students exhibited a sense of pride and ownership for their garden.
“It really helps; if kids plant trees, it’s less likely they’ll break them,” said Grade 7 student Bennett Schnurr.
To fund their green exploits this week, the students put into action the money they received through the TD Friends of the Environment Foundation this winter. This is the second grant the group has received in some two years, as last season, under the guidance of teachers Ed Piva and Kathy Puskas, the students – a group of some 27 known as the Green Team – accepted a $2,000 Toyota grant to beautify the green space in front of the school building.
This year, the group expanded that project with the $5,000 they received from TD Friends of the Environment.
They also applied for EcoSchools certification (Ontario EcoSchools was created in 2002 by a consortium of education stakeholders to address environmental issues in the formal education system) and hope to hear back by June 5 whether they were granted the gold standard certification.
It’s all part of a greater plan to inculcate in the students a knowledge of environmental issues and a sense of global responsibility.
“It’s important for teachers to educate students about the importance of making efforts to conserve for future generations because all the evidence points right now to a tipping point and we’re kind of on the crest of that and we need to make changes in our behaviour before it’s too late,” said Grade 7 and 8 teacher Ed Piva, who was recently recognized by the Elementary Teacher’s Federation of Ontario for his efforts and dedication toward fostering environmental action.
“Everyone has the ability to choose if they want to positively impact the environment that we all share. Clearly, the students of Linwood Public School care enough about our environment to be the change. They have created a place that will foster respect for the natural world and responsibility for the creatures that live in it for many years to come.”
Environmental awareness and participation are growing, now that the new science curriculum requires environmental education up to Grade 8.
“We’re expected to teach about it now, not just casually talk about it; it’s a teaching expectation, which is great,” said Piva.
Linwood PS is going beyond the curriculum, however, and recently applied for gold standard certification through the Ecoschools program. Piva, Puskas and a handful of Green Team members are hoping to learn about their application at a day-long event scheduled for June 5 at the Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI) in Waterloo.
To become certified, a school must demonstrate achievement in a number of areas, including teamwork and leadership, energy conservation, waste minimization, school ground greening, curriculum (environmental education) and environmental stewardship and school community.