Energy Warriors, Waste Warriors and Environmental Monitors at St Louis

16 Jun 2016   |   Blog   |   Supporter action   |   Our Common Home

Tags:  sustainable living, sustainability, schools   |   No comments

Staff and students at St Louis


Dear young people, the just use and stewardship of the earth’s resources is an urgent task, and you have an important contribution to make.”
Pope Francis, January 2014

We cannot tackle poverty without addressing the issue of climate change, and while every person on the planet is affected by climate change, the impact is especially severe for communities living in poverty.

In Aspendale Victoria, one school is championing sustainable environmental practices, and ensuring that the young people understand and take pride in caring for our planet.

Sustainability Education

St Louis De Montfort in Aspendale, Victoria embeds sustainability education throughout school life and the curriculum.

A walk around St Louis reveals the school’s permaculture vegetable gardens, bush tucker garden, orchard, grey water recycling system, aquaponics system, observation ponds and enclosures for chickens, rabbits, birds, goats, lizards, turtles and frogs.

One of St Louis’ most extensive programs is their Garden to Kitchen program, run five afternoons a week. The program provides 480 students per year with the opportunity to return to nature and experience hands-on learning in a sustainable environment.

Students cover biological science by researching the diverse plant and animal life that exists in the garden. The cooking classes incorporate mathematics and students thoroughly enjoy learning about fractions and measurement through real life application. During these sessions students also learn about seasonal produce, the importance of compost, animal husbandry and much more.

St Louis joined the ResourceSmart Schools network and in 2015 achieved 5 Star Sustainability Certification. This means they demonstrated significant leadership in each of the five ResourceSmart Schools modules of Core, Biodiversity, Energy, Water and Waste as well as actively helping other schools to start their own sustainability journey.

Leadership and whole-of-school involvement

Sustainability education precinct

Much of the success of St Louis’ sustainability initiatives lie in their whole-of-school approach. Supportive senior leadership has been essential. St Louis has leaders that believe in sustainability and its importance to our world and future.

Teachers at the school worked together to develop a school environmental management plan which includes targets for each area of Waste, Water, Biodiversity and Energy. An environmental teacher group meets regularly.

Community support has also been critical. Parents get involved through a parent garden group and the school has many partnerships with the wider community, including the Catholic Education Office Melbourne and Kingston council.

To encourage student leadership, there are eight Year 6 environment and sustainability leaders who promote sustainable practices across the school. The school also has Energy Warriors, Waste Warriors and Environmental Monitors in all classes. The Energy Warriors have the responsibility in classrooms to ensure the school reduces our energy usage by turning of lights and computers and closing doors. The Waste Warriors ensure that students dispose of waste correctly in paper, compost and general rubbish bins. Environmental Monitors promote sustainability initiatives such rubbish free lunches and walk to school days.

Student drawings

 

The initial precinct was funded through the school. In 2014 St Louis received a $50,000 Department of Industry grant. They have also received $70,000 in funding from Parents and Friends which will allow them to proceed with new initiatives.

The future

St Louis’ sustainability journey continues and they are looking at many more initiatives including new enclosures for frogs, turtles and lizards, and infrastructure such as wind turbines, solar panels and water bores.

Advice to other schools – Ingredients for success

Students in the garden

Inspired to bring change to your school? Here are St Louis’ ingredients for success:

  • Passion
  • Vision – know why you want to do this
  • Support from the Principal or like-minded people who can influence others
  • Planning
  • Get your school community on board
  • Get buy in from others. Fundraise, start small - you can always grow
  • Join a network like ResourceSmart
  • Monitor how you are going and show you are saving money
  • Partnerships – link with schools in area, council etc.
  • Celebrate what you do!

Find out more how you can take action for climate justice in your school


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