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St Mary’s gets green-gold status

AS well as having students who can hold a conversation on environmental topics, St Mary’s Catholic Primary School has a number of initiatives that teach students how to live sustainably.

There is a tank to catch rain to water the garden, chickens in a coop made from re-purposed fences, a flower garden to attract bees, and a compost area to put food scraps that will feed the gardens.

St Mary’s was given the top status of green-gold by Enviroschools for their work in practising sustainability in their school environment.

They are the first urban school to be granted the green-gold status.

The school was going for silver, up from bronze, but their work educating their students on environmental impacts, and putting it into practice on school grounds, impressed Enviroschools facilitators Kauri Forno and Kirsty Gaddum.

Ms Forno said the day was about “a pause” on their Enviroschools journey to acknowledge and celebrate what they had been doing.

“On the day we found loads of evidence to show that the five guiding principles were beautifully interwoven into school life. They are sustainable communities, empowered students, Maori perspectives, learning for sustainability and respect for diversity of people and culture.”

St Mary’s is one of 27 schools in Tairawhiti that participate in Enviroschools, which is a nationwide programme where schools commit to a long-term journey to connect tamariki/students with their environment.

St Mary’s Year 5 student Francesca Grant said she had learned a lot about reducing the use of plastic.

“Because it is harming our world,” she said.

Year 6 student Dougie Wilcox-Taylor said he had learned about the need to plant more trees. He was backed up by fellow Year 6 pupil Marshall Boyd.

“We need to look after the world and plant plants because if we don’t we will have less oxygen to breathe and then we die.”

SILVER REFLECTION DAY: It was called a Silver Reflection Day but St Mary’s Catholic Primary School leap-frogged the silver status and went straight from bronze to green-gold for their work educating students on how to live sustainably. From left are St Mary’s School students Dougie Wilcox-Taylor, Marshall Boyd and Francesca Grant. The green-gold status granted by Enviroschools made St Mary’s the first city school to reach the top environmental nod for all the work they are doing on their school grounds to teach students about living well into the future. Picture by Rebecca Grunwell