What’s happening in Rainbow Schools?

Rainbow Board achieves 100 per cent certification in EcoSchools Canada

We did it!

When Rainbow District School Board declared a climate change emergency, a commitment was made to have all of its schools EcoSchools Canada Certified by 2022. As the school year draws to a close, EcoSchools Canada has officially confirmed that the mission has been accomplished. Rainbow District School Board is one of only two school boards in Canada to have achieved this distinction in the 2021-2022 school year.

“Achieving 100% EcoSchools certification is a very significant achievement for a school board,” said EcoSchools Canada Program Manager Clara Luke. “Being a certified EcoSchool means that a school is committed to environmental sustainability and climate action. For an entire school board to have this commitment from all of its schools signals that there has been a concerted effort to take environmental action and that the support for this important work spans the school community, and beyond – including students, teachers, school administrators, custodial staff, support staff, school board administrators and trustee leadership.”

She added: “We extend a huge congratulations to all Rainbow Schools and all members of their school communities who worked so hard during another challenging year to prioritize climate action and sustainability.”

“On behalf of the Board, I commend all schools for their outstanding achievement,” said Chair Bob Clement. “The Board made the commitment, schools embraced the challenge, and students and staff worked with purpose and with passion to achieve their goals.”

He added: “As we celebrate the happy outcome, we can all be proud that we have made a difference. More importantly, we have instilled in students and the school communities that we serve eco-friendly practices that will last a lifetime.”

“With our ongoing focus on sustainability, our schools have reduced their carbon footprint,” said Director of Education Bruce Bourget who praised the Board’s Environmental Education Committee for its leadership and all schools for their stewardship.

“Our schools have demonstrated that the smallest of changes can have profound impacts,” said Director Bourget. “Students are adopting the values and behaviours required to achieve sustainability, transferring what they are learning in the classroom into their homes and into their communities. This generation is leading the way, paving the path forward for those who will follow in their footsteps.”

By the numbers, Rainbow Schools earned 11 Bronze certifications, 7 Silver, 13 Gold, 11 Platinum and 1 Remote/Virtual School certification in the 2021-2022 school year. According to EcoSchools Canada, any level of certification is an achievement to be proud of. It indicates that a school is taking action on climate change while empowering students to make climate-conscious decisions in their daily lives, and to share these learnings with their families and communities.

The significance of the certifications, however, is best reflected in the overall impact these environmental efforts have on the planet by supporting the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals – 815 kilograms of waste diverted from landfill and 41 tons of CO2 emissions reduced from school ground greening activities. In addition, 13 schools participated in actions related to water conservation, 281 classrooms had their energy efficiency optimized and 1828 waste-free lunches were packed and taken to school. Rainbow Schools promoted responsible consumption and production, climate action, clean water and sanitation, affordable and clean energy, and sustainable cities and communities.

The top 10 environmental actions that occurred in Rainbow Schools, in reverse order, were indoor gardening and greenhouses, pollinator gardens, National Sweater Day, Take Me Outside Day, switch off lights and devices, Earth Day, Community Clean-up, waste-free lunch, good on one side paper and, ranked number one, create your own action. Schools went beyond traditional environmental practices and found creative ways to make a difference.

Barrydowne College, for instance, grew a food garden by overcoming infrastructure challenges – one classroom with windows and no outdoor space. The alternative school, located at Cambrian College, had hydroponic gardens installed in their classrooms. The herbs and vegetables grown were used in food classes to prepare nutritious meals for students.

Environmental Education and Sustainability is a priority embedded in Rainbow District School Board’s Strategic Directions for 2022 to 2027.

The EcoSchools commitment is the cornerstone of the Board’s Climate Change Action Plan.

Guided by five key principles – promotion of global stewardship through EcoSchools Canada Certification practices, inclusive of Indigenous perspectives, evidence based and data driven initiatives, supporting educators with knowledge and resources, and working closely with community partners – the plan aims to raise student, educator, staff and parent awareness of environmentally responsible practices; embed eco policies within the Board’s strategic planning, supporting sustainability; and establish environmental leadership groups to empower others to act as responsible environmental citizens.

EcoSchools provides benchmarks for environmental learning and action in Canada, instilling in students the proficiencies, perspectives and practices to help them become environmentally responsible citizens inside and outside of the classroom.

Certification recognizes achievement in six key areas: ecological literacy, energy conservation, environmental stewardship, school ground greening, teamwork and leadership, and waste minimization.

Monthly environmental challenges, which include an Indigenous component, have proven to be an effective way to broaden the scope of education and environmental action. Through an “Anishinaabe” perspective, students have the opportunity to experience and understand profound customs and teachings to place an even greater value on the protection of our planet, our home, Mother Earth “Shkagamikwe”. Relevant Anishinaabemowin reinforces appropriate action to support the environmental focus for the month.

Eco-Challenges for 2021-2022 included World Rivers Day, Waste Reduction Week, World Fisheries Day, Youth Climate Action Day, Seed Swap Day, National Sweater Day, International Day of the Forest, Earth Day, World Turtle Day and Clean Air Day.

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Media Contact:
Nicole Charette, Senior Advisor,
Corporate Communications and Strategic Planning,
Rainbow District School Board, 705-674-3171 ext. 7217.

Photos:

A.B. Ellis EcoSchools.jpeg
Planting trees will always be part of the Eco mission for staff and students at A.B. Ellis Public School. Planting are, from left, Nikhil Neelamu, Madison Delisle-Beland and Riley Main.

Barrydowne EcoSchools.jpeg
Barrydowne College teachers Karen Gauvin, left, and Natalie Lachance, and student Camden Coles prepare the school’s indoor garden. Planters are filled with compost from an indoor waste management system. This diverts food waste from landfills and reduces greenhouse gas emissions.

Lockerby EcoSchools.jpeg
Members of the Lockerby Composite School Environmental Council took part in the Sudbury Horticultural Society’s Plant Sale this year. Participating were, from left, Laura D’Aloisio, Sydney Leishman, Adam Selalmatzidis and Eric Kuhn.

Monetville EcoSchools.jpeg
Students in Grades 4/5 at Monetville Public School participated in the French River Earth Day sculpture challenge. Students used recyclables to create a fish sculpture, with items placed in a larger fish made from old chicken wire. The fish is on display in the community as a reminder to keep waterways free of waste and pollution.