From energy conservation to environmentally-focused classroom lessons, students at the Peel board are going for green in record numbers. This year, 100 schools and three outdoor education centres in the Peel District School Board certified with the Ontario EcoSchools program, joining a growing movement of 1,900 schools across the province. Support for the program has been provided by the Region of Peel and Toronto and Region Conservation Authority.
This program created goals for the Human Impact eco-club to accomplish and gave an incentive of achieving the highest possible status. The atmosphere of the school had once again changed and there were many staff and students that wanted to be involved in these initiatives. Harold M. Brathwaite accomplished so many projects in just a year and ended up with a Gold EcoSchool status.
"This program brought a brilliant motive for us and we believe every single school should be participating in an EcoSchools program," says Rajbalinder Ghatoura, student and eco-lead of the Human Impact eco-club, Harold M. Brathwaite Secondary School.
The Peel board is proud to be part of this vibrant network. Some highlights from the 2017-18 school year include:
- nine schools achieved Bronze level, 29 Silver level, 55 Gold level, seven Platinum level and three Green level (outdoor education centres).
- in 2017-18 the Peel board completed a $12.9 million energy efficiency upgrade program at schools buildings, including implementation of new automation systems, energy efficient heating/cooling systems and other new technologies. During the 2018-19 school year, the board is implementing another $6.4 million of energy efficiency technologies.
Earlier this school year, students from Derry West Village Public School, a platinum level EcoSchool, were featured on CTV News as they celebrated Earth Day with activities on reduce, reuse and recycle and ways to save the earth.
"All of the habits and lessons that our students learn become traits they take home with them when school is over. Our Eco-Initiatives have also provided leadership opportunities for our students; this collective cause has shown them that their actions can and do make a difference, and our students have flourished with this knowledge," says Christina Brulotte, principal, Burnt Elm Public School.
"Our Eco practices have become a part of who we are in the building and what our school community is about. Being recognized for our efforts working together as two schools in one, is a reward that both staff and students take pride in," says Sarah Downes and Shauna Forrest, EcoLead teachers, Tony Pontes and Countryside Village public schools.
Ontario EcoSchools works with 58 school boards to nurture student leadership and foster environmental learning and action in school communities. Certification is based on a provincial standard of excellence and reaches over one million students across Ontario.
"Through the program, students work with staff and community members to develop strategies to conserve energy, reduce waste, green their schoolyard, and develop environmental literacy. To see our students empowered to affect positive change in their schools and communities as environmentally responsible citizens is truly inspiring," says Tracy Appleton, sustainability specialist, Facilities and Environmental Support Services.
Ontario EcoSchools is an award-winning environmental education and certification program for grades K-12 that nurtures environmental leaders, reduces the ecological impact of schools, and builds environmentally responsible school communities. All publicly funded schools can access the EcoSchools program free of charge.
For more information on the Peel board's EcoSchools, contact Tracy Appleton, sustainability specialist at 905-890-1010 ext. 2168 or [email protected].