There’s something green growing at Kente Public School.
A handful of Grade 4 and 5 students joined their teacher Cassie Lyon at the Hastings and Prince Edward District School Board meeting of trustees on Monday night to speak about their efforts to transform Kente into a gold standard EcoSchool.
The class took part in the Ontario EcoSchools certification program this year, an award winning environmental education and certification program for students from Kindergarten to Grade 12 that
nurture environmental leaders, reduces the ecological impact at schools and builds environmentally responsible communities.
Lyon posed the question to the students at the start of the year ‘How can we be green?’ and the learning flowed from that inquiry into virtually every aspect of the curriculum.
“This type of learning doesn’t happen without support at the board level, support at the school level and support in the community,” Lyon told trustees and HPEDSB staff.
The students used a vacant wall in their classroom to keep track of their learning and illustrate how everything connects to the overall question.
On Monday, the students highlighted five aspects of their collective work this year, touching on the expansion of their recycling program, a school-wide garbage reduction effort, a composting program, straw elimination, creating a waste free classroom and a community garden located at the school.
The garden, crafted with support from Picton Home Hardware and the Community Garden groups in Picton and Wellington, is a celebration piece in a year of ecologically minded learning and has really energized the school and the community as the term winds to a close.
“It’s not an exaggeration to say that it feels like everyone in our community is interested and excited about what we are doing at Kente. Friends and family are pitching in, the staff at Picton Home Hardware want the latest updates, parent council is supportive, community members are dropping off soaker hoses and the farmer down the road is going to dig post holes for our pergola next week and families are signing up at the office to take care of the garden over the summer,” Lyon said.
The school was hopeful to have a harvest meal prior to the end of studies next week and the produce harvested later this summer will be donated to local food banks.
“Our environmental initiatives have strengthened our place in the community and we really could not have done this without community support,” Lyon added.
Kente principal Annette Huizinga knew of the eco-school program but admitted to wondering how a Grade 4-5 class would be able to undertake all the required curriculum pieces.
“Wow, what can’t these students do? They can move mountains,” Huizinga said. “They have voiced loud and clear they are environmentally responsible. It’s amazing what these students have accomplished in a very short amount of time.”