An area that was barren and sparse just five years ago is now lush and green, filled with trees, bushes, birdhouses and flowers thanks to a group of environmentally aware students and teachers at Linwood Public School.
To fund their greening projects, the students put into action the money they have raised over the past few months. In previous years, they have been able to draw on money received through the TD Friends of the Environment Foundation or a Toyota grant, but this year their grant applications came up dry.
“As thorough as our application was, there were a few holes,” said Grade 7 and 8 teacher Ed Piva. “We were asking for a larger sum of money to fund a green roof. We are going to incorporate the advice we were given into next year’s application, but this year it was up to us to fundraise.”
And the Green Team – a group of some 25 students, led by Piva and fellow teacher Kathy Puskas – held a school-wide event which they called a ‘Barage Sale,’ a bake sale and garage sale combined that brought in more than $1,000. In addition, the Linwood PS’s home and school committee donated $2,000 to the cause.
“With the sale, not only were we able to raise a bit of money for our project, but we were able to recycle,” said Piva. “People had so many things in their attics or garages that they weren’t using but that someone else could use.”
Now, a variety of trees and shrubs, including hemlocks, sugar maples and basswoods, have been selected and are ready to be planted around the school property. Students, too, are ready to get their hands dirty on the fourth annual Linwood PS Greening the Campus Day, to be held June 9.
“It is very important that students have instilled in them an appreciation of the natural world. There are so many environmental atrocities afflicting our planet, and it is all too easy to feel discouraged,” said Piva. “Part of my job is to bring them back to earth, and get their hands dirty.”
The school has also applied for EcoSchools certification. Ontario EcoSchools is an environmental education program for Grades 1-12 that helps students develop ecological literacy while engaged in practices to become environmentally responsible citizens. Developed and run by school boards, Ontario EcoSchools also helps improve school building operations to reduce environmental impacts. 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. A gold certified EcoSchool must achieve 75 per cent or higher in all categories.
The Linwood group are now awaiting a decision on its gold-level ambitions.
“The students get really pumped up about greening the school,” said Piva. “There is very little vandalism to our nature area because the students themselves have ownership over it. It’s a pay-it-forward system. The trees that are there now were planted by the older brothers and sisters of our current students. Planting trees is like leaving their legacy.”