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St Louis a ‘Super-school’ of sustainability – ResourceSmart Schools Awards announced.

16 October 2017

The 2017 ResourceSmart Schools Awards have been announced with Aspendale’s St Louis de Montfort’s Primary School being named School of the Decade for its comprehensive work to build a better environment.

With the ResourceSmart Schools Awards celebrating a decade of environmental progress at Victorian schools in 2017, the School of the Decade Award was introduced.

After winning a swag of awards last year, St Louis’ also won Community Leadership School of the Year (Primary) and Leadership School of the Year, It was also a finalist in the Student Action Team of the Year (Primary) section.

St Louis de Montfort’s Primary is a 5star ResourceSmart School which has embedded sustainability into its school culture. Highlights of St Louis de Montfort’s Primary sustainability efforts include:

  • a kitchen made from converted shipping containers including a wood-fired pizza oven
  • an amphitheatre including re-used tyres and sleepers in its construction
  • solar panels with a battery system were installed in 2016
  • an orchard and garden beds, aquaponics ponds and garden beds, a permaculture area, composting, rabbits, birds, chickens, wetlands and reptile enclosures.
  • student waste and energy warriors lead the reduction of waste and energy in each class
  • the ‘Sustainabux’ program has boosted the adoption of environmentally-friendly action by rewarding individuals and classes. Sustainabux can be collected and redeemed for prizes including movie afternoons
  • involvement in the Friends of Aspendale Station group
  • other schools visit and take part in workshops to learn from St Louis de Montfort’s experience

Sustainability Victoria’s Interim, CEO Stephanie Ziersch, said this year's  efforts were outstanding.

“The awards really are the ultimate ‘show and tell’ and celebrate the achievement of schools across the state that are committed to sustainable action.”

“It’s fantastic that schools are seeing the results from taking positive actions.”

“The Resource Smart Schools Awards celebrate the achievement of schools that are committed to sustainable action and reducing the impact of climate change.”

“Just to enter means you have the confidence that you are making a difference in the community,” Ms Ziersch said.

“I know that there are many schools doing great work in sustainability, and I want to encourage those that have never entered, or which haven't for some time, to get involved next year.”

The ResourceSmart Schools Awards are Victoria’s biggest sustainability awards for schools.

The awards are part of Sustainability Victoria’s award-winning ResourceSmart Schools program, which helps schools embed sustainability into everything they do

In 2017 they celebrate a decade of school achievements in sustainability.

More than 1,300 Victorian schools have taken part in ResourceSmart Schools which rewards and recognises students, teachers and schools for sustainability achievements through Sustainability Certification and the ResourceSmart Schools Awards.

How the ResourceSmart Schools Awards are making a difference

In 2016 schools taking part in ResourceSmart Schools saved $4.55 million by reducing energy, water and waste.

Since 2008, the program has:

  • saved schools more than $20 million in energy, waste and water costs
  • avoided more than 58,000 tonnes of greenhouse gases
  • reached more than 1,300 Victorian schools and 96 early learning services and
  • provided financial benefits and helped young people and school communities to gain knowledge, skills and experiences needed to make sustainable choices in their lives.

To join the ResourceSmart Schools Program at www.resourcesmartschools.vic.gov.au.

And the winners for the 2017 ResourceSmart Schools Awards are....

Biodiversity School of the Year (Primary) - Firbank Grammar (Sandringham)

Firbank Grammar has increased understory and vegetation structure, created a nature trail project and installed mosaic bird baths to encourage local fauna and flora. In the classroom, the school ran an exhibition, ‘Sharing the Planet’ demonstrating students’ understanding of climate change, endangered species and factors that affect ecosystems. Students look at how plants and animals respond to environmental conditions, adaptation and human actions.

Other finalists

  • Eppalock Primary School (Axe Creek)
  • St Therese Primary School (Torquay)
  • Badger Creek Primary School

Biodiversity School of the Year (Secondary) - Kyneton Secondary College (Kyneton)

Kyneton Secondary students have been working with Macedon Ranges Shire’s environment department and local Landcare groups to conduct field studies on insect populations at Bald Hill Reserve, a patch of remnant vegetation near Kyneton.

By monitoring insect diversity scientists hope to identify how the availability of certain foods affect the continued presence of Brush-tailed phascogales, a small marsupial whose habitat has been fragmented by land-clearing. This collaborative project gives students the unique opportunity to work with scientists and volunteers to gather real-life data to help protect Brush-tailed phascogales in the Macedon Ranges, and strengthen ties between the school and community.

Other finalists

  • Yarra Ranges Special School (Mt Evelyn)
  • Lowanna College (Newborough)

Waste School of the Year (Primary) - Manchester Primary School (Mooroolbark)

Students are conscious of the dangers of litter to the environment and wildlife in the school-grounds and via the storm-water drains to the Yarra River and the sea. They explore a variety of global waste problems like the Great Pacific Garbage Patch and the impact of waste on animal and plant life. There is a four bin system in every class-room, ‘Bin monitors’ ensure correct disposal and a group of students called ‘Waste Warriors’ scour the school-grounds for rubbish and report back to their grade. The school vegie garden has a worm farm and compost bin, while the Parent Club seeks advice on how to reduce waste when running fund raising events. LOTE and art programs have a focus on reducing the purchase of excess packaging. Reusable bags, rubbish free lunches and recycled art materials are also encouraged.

Other finalists

  • Carrum Primary School
  • Mentone Primary School
  • Werribee Primary School

Waste School of the Year (Secondary) - Nossal High School (Berwick)

Nossal High School does not just complete a module or buy recycling bins, they completely overhauled the school culture. While working through the ResourceSmart Schools waste module, the Nossal Environmental Sustainability Team (NEST) membership grew from around 15 to 60. Across the school, students are getting involved, having conversations about waste and making change. The school has reduced waste to landfill by 40 cubic metres and saved significant amounts of money. The school is a relatively young school and had very few waste management or awareness systems in place before the waste module focus.

Other finalists

  • Brentwood Secondary College
  • Kaniva P-12 College
  • MacKillop Catholic Regional College (Werribee)

Water School of the Year (Primary) - Exford Primary School

Fifty kilometres west of Melbourne’s CBD Exford Primary School relies purely on rain water tanks for its water supply. Exford’s population has grown dramatically over the past few years, and it’s vital that staff and students take notice of the water supply. Sustainability and water management is a focus and students and staff go out of their way to empty buckets that catch drips, hand watering plants and creating water saving posters and projects to remind everybody of the need to conserve water.

Other finalists

  • Werribee Primary School
  • Stella Maris Primary School (Beaumaris)
  • Epping Views Primary School

Water School of the Year (Secondary) - Warringa Park School (Hoppers Crossing)

Students at Warringa Park’s Bethany Road Campus actively participate in a global water conservation project, Water is Life. Students work within the school and with others around the world. The Water is Life Project culminated in a whole campus Action Day. Student involvement resulted in local action with measurable outcomes, like fundraising for a water tank to be installed at the campus to water gardens. The students work was presented to the United Nations in New York as part of the worldwide schools team.

Other finalist

  • MacKillop Catholic Regional College (Werribee)

Energy School of the Year (Primary) - Werribee Primary School

Werribee Primary School has implemented a number of strategies to improve energy efficiency, including installing solar panels, monthly ‘Out with Lights’ days to challenge students and teachers to not use electricity or gas, and journals which encourage energy saving at home. Most notably, Werribee Primary School has made an enormous effort to encourage and support active transport and students take part in safe riding/scooter skills and regularly collect data on transport use and report this to the school.

Other finalists

  • Athol Road Primary School (Springvale South)
  • Koonwarra Village School
  • Epping Views Primary School

Energy School of the Year (Secondary) - Lauriston Girls School (Howqua)

Year nine students at Lauriston Girls School Howqua Campus monitor their weekly energy consumption and have been challenged to reduce their energy use through the ‘Black Balloons House Competition’. The number of black balloons generated by each school house is calculated each week and a ‘Green House Award’ is awarded to the one that generates the least black balloons resulted in a significant reduction in energy use,

Other finalist

  • MacKillop Catholic Regional College (Werribee)

Student Action Team of the Year (Primary) - Tatura primary school (Tatura)

Members of the Envirokids team at Tatura Primary School have been busy advocating ways the school can reduce waste and energy use by presenting to the whole school on a weekly basis, maintaining a notice board and providing input for the school newsletter. In 2016, the team implemented a three-bin system in each classroom for compost, recycling and landfill waste, They also made signs to promote correct bin use. As a result, the school cut its landfill waste by 33 cubic metres over 12 months and was awarded the Hume Region Waste School of 2017.

Other finalists

  • Ararat 800 Primary School
  • Chewton Primary School
  • St Louis de Montfort Primary School (Aspendale)

Student Action Team of the Year (Secondary) - Cheltenham Secondary College

The Environmental Team at Cheltenham Secondary College has actively promoted sustainability in the school and wider community. The team has presented at staff meetings, hosted a rubbish-free breakfast for staff and students who took part in Ride to School Day, maintained a sustainability noticeboard, presented workshops at local primary schools and organised a letter writing bee to lobby politicians to oppose further investment in coal. Most notably, the Environmental team successfully lobbied the local café to reward customers who brought their own reusable coffee cups.

Other finalists

  • Melbourne High School (South Yarra) – Highly commended
  • Nossal High School (Berwick)
  • MacKillop Catholic Regional College (Werribee)

Teacher of the Year (Primary) - Loretta Leary, Mount Waverley Primary School

Loretta Leary led Mount Waverley Primary to become a 5Star ResourceSmart school. Among her work has been regular workshops for school staff and she has mentored primary, secondary and pre-schools though their sustainability journeys. Over 17 years she has held working bees and sustainability stalls at school fetes, entered competitions; winning a National Tree Planting Day title, Nude Food Day award, Royal Melbourne Show awards, Landcare grants and a Melbourne Water grant to present at the Kids Teaching Kids conference. Loretta initiated and implemented energy, water, waste and biodiversity projects to reduce the school’s carbon footprint. With the new Victorian curriculum, Loretta has been instrumental in keeping sustainability a core focus and worked with the school's Scope and Sequence team to ensure sustainability was visible throughout the school's program.

Other finalists

  • Killara Primary School (Sunbury) – Robyn Smith
  • Wooragee Primary School (Wooragee) – Christine Varker
  • Carrum Primary School (Carrum) – Marcus Mulcahy

Teacher of the Year (Secondary) - Kelly Jenkins, St Joseph’s College (Newtown, Geelong)

Kelly Jenkins’ work has had a profound impact on the school’s attitude towards sustainability. She engages with students and staff with great enthusiasm and determination to help students develop and implement sustainable initiatives. She attended the National EREA Sustainability Conference and Catholic Principal’s Conference in Canberra to showcase initiatives undertaken at St Joseph’s. She established an energy efficiency investigation for Year 10 students in Home Science which included the use of power generating electromagnetic bikes, analysis of classroom electricity use and energy auditing of lights and devices. To demonstrate her approach she developed her own acronym FICAS, F: Focus and Fun, I: Incentive, C: Comparable, A: Achievable, S: Supported.

Other finalists

  • St Monica’s College (Epping) - Rachel Zammit
  • Nagle College (Bairnsdale) - Andrea Savage
  • Nossal High School (Berwick) - Jessica Ball

Community Leadership School of the Year (Primary) - St Louis de Montfort’s Primary School (Aspendale)

St Louis de Montfort’s Primary sees community leadership as empowerment through education. The school collaborates with various organisations to host tours and deliver events like the Steps to Sustainability Conference, Big Green Schools Conference, Victorian Garden Workshops and presentations at the Kids Teaching Kids Conferences. The school uses contemporary teaching and learning practices in science, technology, and maths initiative, with students having the opportunity to work with experts from Swinburne University and St Kilda Eco Centre. The school has a sustainability precinct comprising of vegetable gardens, aquaponics garden, permaculture area, propagating shed, composting, worm farms, reptile habitat including turtle ponds, lizard housing and frog bogs and a kitchen garden. The school uses the precinct to educate the wider community. Students have the opportunity to impart their knowledge and understanding about flora and fauna.

Other finalists

  • Toongabbie Primary School (Toongabbie) - Highly commended
  • eppalock Primary School (Eppalock)
  • St Judes Parish Primary School (Langwarrin)

Community Leadership School of the Year (Secondary) - Catholic Regional College St Albans

Catholic Regional College has taken out the secondary school Leadership title at Sustainability Victoria’s ResourceSmart Schools Awards for its Community Food Project. The program works within a number of local communities to champion collaboration, earth stewardship, sustainability and action on climate change. The Community Food Project has established Catholic Regional College as a welcoming community hub that demonstrates different ways to produce fresh food, integrate sustainability objectives into the school and connect with other community programs. Within the school community, staff, students and families also work for a more sustainable future by composting and deliver real-life experiences for young people.

Other finalists

  • Warracknabeal Secondary College (Warracknabeal)
  • Monterey Secondary College (Frankston South)

Leadership School of the Year - St Louis de Montfort’s Primary School (Aspendale)

St Louis de Montfort’s Primary has demonstrated outstanding sustainability leadership. Student waste and energy warriors lead their classes to ensure waste and energy reduction in all classrooms. This year’s student leaders introduced the ‘Sustainabux’ program, which has helped improve sustainability practices across the school by rewarding individuals and classes for taking positive sustainable actions. Students can collect and redeem their ‘Sustainabux’ for prizes including movie afternoons, extra play or chip lunches. The student leaders are role models and impart their sustainability knowledge to fellow students, teachers, staff, parents and members of the wider community through their actions and words. Staff have incorporated sustainable education across all areas of the curriculum and lead students in an inquiry-based approach to learning. Staff have professional development opportunities to learn about new and current approaches to sustainable education. Apart from its involvement in the Friends of Aspendale Station group, the school has demonstrated its leadership by installing solar panels with a battery system, and reducing its rubbish collection. The school demonstrated a great ability to involve the wider community and constantly reinvent its approach to sustainability.

School of the decade - St Louis de Montfort’s Primary School (Aspendale)

St Louis de Montfort’s Primary is a 5star ResourceSmart School which has embedded sustainability into its school culture. Most notably, the sustainability precinct provides hands-on learning opportunities for students and contains a kitchen made from converted shipping containers, a wood-fired pizza oven, greywater pond, garden beds, aquaponics ponds and beds, an amphitheatre made from re-used tyres and sleepers, a permaculture area, composting, an orchard, rabbits, birds, chickens, swales (wetlands) and reptile enclosures.

St Louis de Montfort’s Primary School has also demonstrated a commitment to educate the wider community on sustainability issues by hosting workshops and events such as Steps to Sustainability Conference, Big Green Schools Conference, Victorian Garden Workshops and presenting at Kids Teaching Kids conferences.

Other finalists

  • Winters Flat Primary School (Castlemaine) - Highly Commended
  • St Macartans Parish Primary School, (Mornington)
  • Carrum Primary School (Carrum)