Waterloo Region, ON – This year, schools across Waterloo Region are certifiably green! Thirty-six schools in the Waterloo Catholic District School Board certified with the Ontario EcoSchools program, joining a growing movement of 1,900 schools across the province.
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 1,000,000 students across Ontario.
- For the 2017-18 school year, three schools achieved Bronze level, 18 Silver level, 13 Gold level, and 2 Platinum (St. Anne CES – Kitchener, and Saint John Paul II CES). It is the Board’s stated goal to have all 44 elementary schools and 5 secondary schools certified by the end of the 2018-19 school year. See complete list of WCDSB certifications further below.
- The Board’s Sustainable Education, Stewardship and Sustainability Committee has established four key strategic priorities to guide its efforts over the next three-year period: Learning & Teaching; Staff & Student Engagement in Action; Operations & Communications; and, Community Connections & Partnerships. For more information, please visit the WCDSB EcoZone.
- 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.
- Visit ontarioecoschools.org/media/ for more information and for a full list of certified schools across the province.
WCDSB is proud to be part of this growing network, and supports ongoing environmental practices. In 2009, St. Nicholas CES in Waterloo became the first WCDSB school to certify, and has continued to certify as an EcoSchool for the past nine years.
Heidi Rudy, teacher and EcoTeam lead at St. Nicholas, reflects on what started their journey: “It all began when I was approached by two students who were concerned with everything they were seeing in the media about the problems with the environment. We decided to start an eco club: K2OPS was the winning name and stands for Kids Keeping Our Planet Safe.”
Rudy was the teacher who led and began the club, and with her guidance, the students have run campaigns such as litterless lunches, Earth Hour activities, walk-to-school days, reusable water bottle campaigns, anti-idling campaigns, and lights-out initiatives. The school also planted gardens and shade trees as part of EcoSchools certification, and started up a vermicomposter.
Rudy notes that the Ontario EcoSchools program was instrumental in guiding their K2OPS ideas each year as well as providing incentive: “The importance of the program is immeasurable. The main reason I ever took it on was for the students. I have learned so much through them. To see their passion about caring for our Earth is all of the impact that I need to see to keep the team going.”
Reflecting on the last nine years, Rudy notes the difference the program has made at her school and beyond: “I would say that everything we have done is a success story – bringing the awareness to everyone and their families is success in and of itself!”
“We are so proud of the efforts our students staff have put into living greener lives at their schools and at home. The Ontario Catholic School Graduate Expectations call on all students to — among other things — be “collaborative contributors” and “responsible citizens” and their success in the EcoSchools program shows just how much they take their responsibilities to the environment seriously. Of course, without the dedicated leadership of our outstanding school staffs and the great work of our Facility Services department, being “green” would be a much bigger challenge”.
~ Loretta Notten, Director of Education
“Being a teacher at a certified Ontario EcoSchool has been a very rewarding experience for me. It has allowed me to connect with students whom I might otherwise not interact with in a meaningful and significant way. It is rewarding to work with students on things that will have a very significant impact on their lives and their future, apart from the day to day curriculum lessons and class work. Seeing students taking responsibility for bettering their own futures at such a young age inspires me to want to continuing doing as much as I can to help them achieve their goals.”
~ Angela Pagett, Teacher, St. Anne (Kitchener) CES
“We never had composting bins at home, and now we all have them at our homes. We have had students at our school who had never recycled before and used to throw everything in the garbage at home. Now everyone is recycling and composting.”
~ Emma, Anna, Giuse, Grace, Madison, Matthew, Grade 7 students, St. John Paul II CES.
“Ontario EcoSchools certification provides a framework for environmental learning and action, and school communities bring it to life. The program allows schools and school boards to benchmark their progress and celebrate achievements year-over-year. We are so proud of the 1,900 schools and 58 school boards that participated in the program in 2017-18. This is a record number over our 13-year history.”
~ Lindsay Bunce, Executive Director, Ontario EcoSchools
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