The tamariki [kids] of Miller Avenue School in Paeroa are working towards a cleaner, greener school that they can be proud of.
The school is striving to re-acquire its Enviroschools accreditation after a lapse of several years, and its efforts have aligned well with the new localised school curriculum.
Teacher Jane Lupton said the Enviroschools project began after a number of changes at the school, as teachers and students began reconnecting to their cultural identity and the environment around them. “It’s something that I’m quite passionate about, and we could see a need,” Jane said.
“It was encompassed in our Positive Behaviour 4 Learning [programme] about caring for our environment as well, so it was a natural step.”
Work on becoming an Enviroschool began in term one, with a specific focus on “me and my environment”. So far the students have turned their attention to reducing waste on campus, as well as beautifying their surroundings. Every class participated in an enviro-showcase at the end of term two, with contributions ranging from brainstorming ways to improve the school, to building a “cancer remembrance” daffodil garden for a student who survived leukemia.
“The kids really ran with it in the first and second term,” Jane said.
“We tried to maintain our focus on what was achievable … it’s nice for the kids to actually see something come to fruition from their ideas.”
Now, the school boasts an enviro group for interested students in years four and up, on top of school-wide activities. They help resource teacher Judith Munro with all the gardens, weeding, composting and replanting.
“We do painting, we do gardening, over there we have a worm farm,” said enviro group member Bayley Kovacevich-Adams, 11.
The group has big ideas for the school, Bayley said, explaining plans for a music board made from recycled items, extra planting, and colourful gutter boards.
Nine-year-old Alfie Snowball said they were also working on having a cleaner school.
“Recycling [is] one of the main things that we do,” Alfie said.
Further plans down the road include a Pātaka Kai, extensions to the composting and worm farm area, revamping the waste station and replanting the wild area at the bottom of the field with natives as well as flax, which will then be used for weaving.
Jane said the kids were learning a lot about sustainability as well, and she was hopeful the changes would flow on to the wider community as students became used to being environmentally aware.
“It’s about using what we’ve got and being clever about what we’ve got, making the most of the resources that we have,” Jane said.
“We’re really pleased with the way the students have embraced it.
“We’re just looking forward to growing that side of our local curriculum and raising that awareness, hopefully the fingers will spread out into whānau and then into the wider community as well.”
By ALICE PARMINTER, Public Interest Journalism funded by NZ on Air