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Saturday, March 6, 2021

Students making a difference from the ground up

St Mary’s Catholic College at Gateshead is one of the most environmentally friendly schools in the region.

Staff and students were recognised this week as the school took out one of the top awards at the 2020 Lake Macquarie School Environment Awards.

Year 10 student Zac Macdonald said he was excited about the win.

“It feels like we achieved a great feat and it has boosted my pride about being involved with the environmental activities at school,” he said.

“[It’s important because] it helps the community to be more aware of the environment, and it’s also nice to be in an outdoor classroom learning about the local environment.”

Zac has been involved in several activities that help the school save energy, reduce waste and improve the natural environment.

The tips he’d give to others are pretty simple.

“My advice is to recycle and reduce litter and, if you have a garden, look into planting native plants,” he said.

Each year students plant nearly 1,000 trees, tend to a bush tucker garden, embrace opportunities to reduce waste and learn about sustainable food preparation.

They also observe the ecology of a dedicated frog garden and cultivate a growing number of native stingless beehives.

Science teacher Katrina Piper said it was important to give students the opportunity to create both local and global change.

“Students are very aware of the environmental crisis that our planet faces,” she said.

“Participating in the Environmental Awards encourages them to be involved and make a difference from the ground up.”

Joining them in the top spot is Blacksmiths Public School, who was the overall winner in the Primary School category for employing sustainable actions.

Relieving Principal Mr Luke McIlvenie said one of the school’s focuses was to improve environmental awareness among students.

“At Blacksmiths Public School, we focus on sustainability and understanding for our school community,” he said.

“School environmental leaders facilitate and foster student involvement with daily activities and processes that ensure the school is helping the environment.”

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