MONTREAL, SEPTEMBER 17 2008- The English Montreal School Board’s (EMSB) East Hill Elementary School in Rivière-des-Prairies came away the big winners September 16 when the top three entries in the CBC School Needs Projects were announced at the corporate broadcaster’s headquarters. East Hill’s “Go Green” project entails the expansion of recycling at their schools and two others in the neighbourhood and the creation of a Green Fair next spring.
At an event broadcast live as part of CBC Radio One’s Homerun (88.5 FM) program and filmed for the CBC Television News at Six, East Hill was awarded a prize of $1,700 for its Go Green project. There were eight participating schools from four public boards – the EMSB, the Lester B. Pearson School Board, the Riverside School Board and Sir Wilfrid Laurier School Board. Two schools from each board participated, with St. Monica in N.D.G. being the other EMSB entry.
The Foundation for Greater Montreal (FGM) and the Alexander and Ruth Dworkin Foundation (ADF) each committed $5,000 for this project. This funded school environmental visits, provided $500 in up-front funding for project development to each school and grant funds for the three most compelling projects, as identified by the project judges. Schools received visits from either Equiterre or the Earth Values Institute, as well as the National Film Board of Canada and CBC to help educate and motivate students in the possibilities of an environmental project in their school and community.
The projects for participating schools were determined by the students themselves, with the support of a teacher. Each proposed project was limited to between $1,000 and $2,500. In terms of the proposal judging process, students were selected from secondary schools of each board to join the FGM’s Youth in Philanthropy program and serve as judges for School Needs. Maria Scotto of John F. Kennedy High School in St. Michel was the EMSB rep in this category. The School Needs Project was created in 2007 out of the CBC Montreal Matters project to help fulfill need at an elementary school that could not be met through its normal operating budget. Each year, the CBC School Needs project follows up on the previous year’s Montreal Matters topic. This means that for 2008, students developed projects related to the environment.
The East Hill Project
East Hill has established a Green Team and expanded recycling beyond paper. With the support of the Green Team, the school now recycles milk cartons, plastic and aluminum. Their goals now are to inform their two neighbouring schools, Leonardo Da Vinci and Michelangelo, about this project and of the work of the Green Team in order to set up a similar unit in each of the two schools thereby decreasing waste here as well and to spread awareness in the community of environmental issues. The East Hill team will now visit each school to present information to their students via power point presentations, video and discussion.
Students from each of the two schools will be invited to East Hill to observe the Green Team in action. East Hill will also provide the schools with the materials required for the recycling, such boxes for the classrooms and bins for the school. Next spring the three schools will hold a march through the streets of the community to be followed by a Green Fair. This will include kiosks, workshops, presentations made by the three Green Teams, as well as partners in the community. It should be noted that Leonardo Da Vinci is already quite advanced in environmental matters and was recently granted membership in the prestiguious Brundtland Environmental Group, which has as its mandate to promote pacifism, democracy, solidarity and the environment.
“There has been a considerable drop in the level of waste at East Hill over the course of
the last two years,” says East Hill Principal Maria Di Perna. “By implementing the expanded recycling project, the same thing stands to occur at Leonardo Da Vinci and Michelangelo. Parents have come forth at East Hill to mention their children have insisted on recycling at home, that parents’ guilt has spurred them to begin recycling. This tie between home and school would be experienced by the other two schools as well.”
Teachers Nadia Barrafato, Rocco Simone and Spiritual Community Animator Rocco Speranza helped coordinate the project.
St. Monica Proposal
St. Monica had proposed a school beautification initiative spearheaded by students and culminating in the creation of a school butterfly garden. Tackling such a project, the proposal stated, would empower students to take ownership of their school and show respect for their environment. Beautifying the school grounds would also promote school spirit. The $500 in startup funds, in fact, were already put to good use. Students cleaned up litter on the school grounds and the surrounding area that includes Benny Park. They sorted the refuse to find recyclable items and purchased plants, gardening supplies, and paint.
“At St. Monica the student population and staff are environmentally aware, creative, and curious,” says Principal Richard Mason. “We fully intend to carry out many aspects of our original proposal using our own funding, including the possible creation of a school butterfly garden.. This entire experience has been motivational for the staff and students.”
Mr. Mason said he wishes to thank Stephanie MacKinnon, who taught Grades 5 and 6 last year and guided the students through the project.
You can see and hear more about these reports by going to http://www.cbc.ca/montreal/features/schoolneeds for more details.