St. Francis French Immersion School has received its certification as an environmentally friendly school under the Ontario EcoSchools program.
The local Catholic school received its silver accreditation - and a plaque to honour the school's green efforts - from the non-profit organization in June.
Principal Colleen Hannah says that staff attended a workshop for EcoSchools Ontario back in the fall of 2017, where participants discussed the importance of teaching students about environmental impact and how to be critical thinkers when it comes to ecology.
The staff then brainstormed and consulted with students after seeing what resources were available on the EcoSchools Ontario website, where they showed those students leaders a number of resources that were available.
“The students chose those which they thought would most resonate with their peers and with younger students,” Hannah said.
The push to attain Ontario EcoSchools accreditation, says grade five\six teacher Stephanie McWilliam, began with promoting the idea of ‘eco-awareness’ to all of the school’s junior classes.
“We went specifically to the (grades) four\fives and five\sixes, and we saw that it could be very easily embedded into their science curriculum,” McWilliam said.
A number of eco-friendly initiatives were implemented throughout the 2017-2018 academic year, which saw students at St. Francis collecting everything from batteries to used shoes to stuffed animals in order to be recycled.
An energy audit had students calculating the amount of energy consumed in the school on a daily and monthly basis, while a waste audit had students tracking how much garbage was being produced at the school.
Students then were tasked with finding creative ways of reducing waste and energy consumption at the school.
“In caring for the environment, we also wanted the students to understand that they’re also caring for themselves, because we’re all interconnected,” McWilliam said.
According to the EcoSchools Ontario website, nearly 9,000 environmental lessons and more than 4,500 student-led campaigns took place during the 2017-2018 academic year under the organization’s certification program.