Recognizing our certified Ontario EcoSchools
The Ottawa Catholic School Board is proud to have 54 certified Ontario EcoSchools. This special provincial certification allows our schools to be recognized and celebrated by our community for their achievement in environmental education and action. The EcoSchools initiative uses an innovative teaching model that helps students develop ecological literacy while engaging in practices to become environmentally responsible citizens. Our Board beleives in this cause, and it is clear that our school and staff do as well.
How our schools become certifiedEach school forms an EcoTeam which review their school's energy and waste practices. They use this information to create and implement a formal action plan for improvement. Once they put their plan into place, the EcoTeams review their hard work every three months. The process is very detailed, and each step is documented by Ontario EcoSchools. EcoSchools certification provides a rigorous province-wide set of criteria to award points to each school. These points help determine which level of certification our schools receive. Upon certification, each school will receive an EcoSchools plaque and a seal for every year of certification. To become certified, a school must demonstrate achievement in at least four key areas:
Ontario EcoSchools is an environmental education and certification program for grades K-12 that helps school communities develop both ecological literacy and environmental practices to become environmentally responsible citizens and reduce the environmental footprint of schools.
Some inspirational examples of EcoInitativesA number of schools have undertaken their own unique initiatives to integrate environmental awareness with student learning.
Students and staff participated in National Sweater Day. They learned about the importance of saving energy, and how to use less heat during winter. Lowering heat, even by one or two degrees, also reduces gas emissions and pollution. They learned that energy conservation is the first step towards reducing reliance on non-renewable sources of energy like natural gas and coal.Students and staff wore sweaters for two school days in February. All students were encouraged to wear a sweater and sign their classroom pledge on one of those two days. The heat in the school was turned down by 2 degrees. EcoTeam members distributed and collected completed classroom pledges, and reinforced theWWF motto, "Turn down the heat, Turn up your sweater: One or two degrees makes a difference.”
For the past five years, Holy Trinity High School has been participating in a reciprocal social justice experience in El Salvador. Students have an opportunity to immerse themselves in the day-to-day struggles of those who live in El Salvador, as well as see how actions taken in Canada can have a direct effect on people living so far away. The students learn about the possible environmental consequences of Canadian mining in the community they visit, San Jose Las Flores. It is an eye-opening experience for them, as they see the direct impact of Canadian mining companies and practices on a tiny community thousands of kilometres away. They also visit a co-operative dried fruit processing factory in the town of Guarjila. This women’s co-op provides steady work to the economically depressed, and is completely powered by solar panels. The students also hear about what it is like to work in a sweatshop, and learn the differences between that type of system and fair trade practices.
In 2013-14, a smaller group of 13 students (Grade 11 & Grade 12 Biology) from St. Mark, St. Francis Xavier, St. Joseph and All Saints were extremely busy with five full days of the Huntsman Marine Science Centre in St. Andrews, NB – pure, hands-on, experiential learning! The students learned about factors that affect the growth of whale populations and various other species. They collected wild specimens on various beaches in and around St. Andrews, and then brought them back to the lab for physical analysis and response mechanisms. The critters were unharmed and put back safely into the wild. There were also many hikes, guest speakers, and visits to local fishing industries.
In addition, students learned about marine ecosystems and the biodiversity of marine environments. Students were exposed to fish farm techniques and learn about the future sustainability of the fishing industry for Eastern Canada. They are immersed in hands-on learning the entire trip. The highlight of the trip is always the whale watch boat tour – the students saw whales two hours off the shore of Grand Manan Island, in the middle of the Bay of Fundy. They saw the endangered species of North Atlantic Right Whale, as well as Humpbacks and Porpoises. On the ferry ride over to Grand Manan, they even saw Finback Whales and Porpoises!