Everyday environmental action at St Joseph-Scollard Hall SS (NPSCDSB)

This year we are pleased to welcome schools in Nipissing-Parry Sound Catholic District School Board (NPSCDSB) to our growing network. We know that certification takes dedication and perseverance, so we asked school and school board staff about their thoughts on the process. The answers below were provided by students and staff on the St. Joseph-Scollard Hall (SJSH) EcoTeam, and school board staff from NPSCDSB.

First-time Certified School Reflections

How did St. Joseph-Scollard Hall initially get involved with the Ontario EcoSchools program?

“The Outdoor Leadership and Environmental Studies Program (SOLE) is a unique program to SJSH, one of NPSCDSB’s secondary schools in North Bay. One teacher, Terry Dubroy, established the course which provides students with in-depth learning in the areas of Outdoor Physical and Health Education, Environment and Resource Management, Ecotourism and more. Throughout the semester, students develop their leadership, community-building, practical outdoor skills and participate in a variety of activities to support this learning. The Ontario EcoSchools program was a natural fit for initiatives already being undertaken by the SOLE program at SJSH. Throughout the certification process, several teachers at the secondary level were able to receive training which contributed to the sustainability and growth of environmental initiatives taking place.”

Teacher, St. Joseph-Scollard Hall

As a student at SJSH, what are some of the highlights from your involvement in the program this year?

“Honestly, the entire EcoSchools experience was a highlight in some shape or form. It was brilliant to be able to reach out to our school community and make a difference. Our EcoTeam was able to collaborate on different projects, such as working in the greenhouse, running our Earth Day event, the EcoWalk, or a plethora of different activities and events. We were able to engage students and get them to learn about our planet and to be aware of their ecological footprint. It was interesting to meet certain members of the city, such as the fire marshal, and work on adding recycling boxes to every floor of the school. It was fun to put together the EcoReview and watch as we saw ourselves improve and see our efforts accumulate.

Wholeheartedly, the entire EcoSchools experience was memorable, inside-and-out. I’m thankful for the opportunity to have completed this adventure, and I, on behalf of my EcoTeam, could not have imagined not being a part of the first year of Ontario EcoSchools certification.”

Student, St. Joseph-Scollard Hall

Why do you think it is important for schools to build an environmental focus into their everyday activities?

“As members of the EcoTeam at St. Joseph-Scollard Hall, we believe it’s important to build an environmental focus into everyday activities. We take great pride in teaching students and staff to celebrate and respect the Earth by being deliberate and diligent with our actions every day, not just on Earth Day. Both students and teachers have the capacity to learn and make positive changes that promote the wellness of the Earth and that of every person.

Our EcoTeam is particularly proud of the huge impact we’ve had on the recycling practices of our school and student body. Before we had such a large environmental focus, we found cans and juice boxes in the garbage. Students wasted paper without a single thought. These movements may look small, but this is so much more than just recycling. We are all educators in our own right. We do not have to only be students anymore. Every day of our lives, we’ve made an impact on one another — why not teach others how to be stewards of the land?”

EcoTeam members, St. Joseph-Scollard Hall

“We are delighted to have St. Joseph-Scollard Hall receive an Ontario Ecoschools certification. The greenhouse alone is a great symbol for our school community, illustrating the hard work of our staff and students and their commitment to environmental leadership.”

Derek Belanger, Principal, St. Joseph-Scollard Hall

School Board Reflections

As a School Board supporting schools to certify, what would you suggest to other Boards hoping to get involved?

“One challenge we faced at the School Board level is that St. Joseph-Scollard Hall is our first certified EcoSchool. One difficulty in spearheading this initiative was that there was no previous knowledge to build upon. Because the SOLE program aligns so well with the founding principles of Ontario EcoSchools, we were able to draw on the knowledge of the SOLE program to develop strategies to guide student learning, school awareness and student involvement.

A recommendation to other boards hoping to get involved would be to build on what you know is already successful in your schools and utilize the passion and interest of your students and staff.”

Kate Bondett, Communications officer, NPSCDSB

What are your hopes for the next year?

“At NPSCDSB we are hoping to build on the projects we have initiated in secondary schools. We will also support St. Joseph-Scollard Hall as it deepens its programming. An example of this is having board office staff maintain the garden and greenhouse at St. Joseph-Scollard Hall during the summer months. This gardening project may also help to inform how we support school gardening initiatives throughout the Board. NPSCDSB will also support interested elementary schools who may be considering becoming an EcoSchool.”

Kate Bondett, Communications officer, NPSCDSB

“One of NPSCDSB’s ends or student outcomes is that students are responsible, respectful and caring stewards of their world. Through participation in the Ontario EcoSchools program, SJSH students have easily met this goal, and continue to develop and model a culture of environmental stewardship not only in their school, but the greater community as well.”

Anna Marie Bitonti, Director of Education, NPSCDSB

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