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GLC marks fifth anniversary as EcoSchool

BY LINDSAY BRISCOE

Nearing the end of its fifth year as a certified Ontario EcoSchool, Golden Learning Centre (GLC) has become a shining example to other schools in the region.

“Golden Learning Centre is actually one of the strongest schools, definitely in the region. It’s been a role model for folks, given its location and the depth of engagement. The program is really impressive at this school,” said Sue Hamel, the Ontario EcoSchools assessor for the Northwest, in an interview.

In June 2011, GLC achieved Ontario EcoSchools gold status certification, a distinction it’s maintained since. The different levels of certification are based on six pillars: teamwork and leadership, waste reduction, energy minimization, schoolyard greening, curriculum, and environmental stewardship.

A school-wide assembly held on May 13 focused on the pillar of stewardship. The school’s Eco Team presented a banner highlighting its commitment to the David Suzuki Foundation’s Blue Dot Tour and the four rights the school wishes to promote: the right to have a voice in environmental decisions, to fresh air, to clean water, and to healthy food. The plan is to meet with mayor and council and ask them to pass a municipal declaration recognizing those rights, just as 48 other municipal governments across Canada have already done as part of the tour.

The goal, according to the Blue Dot website?

“Neighbours come together to change a city, cities come together to change a province, provinces come together to change a nation, and Canada recognizes your right to a healthy environment.”

Grade one teacher Candace Wiwcharyk says GLC has come a long way in terms of implementation of the six pillars into its everyday learning.

“It’s much more engrained than when we first started, from administration down to the kindergarten kids. It’s who we are as GLC, at least that’s the way I see it,” she said, adding that the school caretaker Dan Berlignhoff even put aside time to make sure her class could be involved in planting new trees in the schoolyard last week.

Since it began ten years ago, Ontario EcoSchools has created a new level of certification: platinum, which Hamel says GLC is well on its way to achieving.

Ontario EcoSchools recently learned that it has received funding to help build capacity in schools specifically in the Northwest. The plan is to host workshops in the fall to hear feedback and ideas from schools throughout the region.

For more information, contact Sue Hamel at skhamel@lakeheadu.ca or visit www.ontarioecoschools.org.

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