Awaba Public School and St Mary's Catholic College win big in School Environment Awards

Date posted: 24 October 2018

Awaba Public School and St Mary’s Catholic College, Gateshead, have taken out top honours in the 2018 Lake Macquarie School Environment Awards.

Lake Macquarie City Council’s Manager Sustainability, Alice Howe, said the awards recognise, support and reward schools that are participating in environmental improvement projects across the City.

Dr Howe commended the 19 schools that entered the awards for their commitment and enthusiasm.

“It is a credit to teachers, parents and students to see so many schools across the City committed to improving their environment and interested in building a more sustainable community,” Dr Howe said.

“Lake Macquarie schools are doing incredible work reducing waste, energy and water consumption, as well as improving their local biodiversity.

“I would like to congratulate all winners and nominees on their achievements and hard work to become more sustainable and helping care for the local environment.”

St Mary’s Catholic College was recognised as the overall winner in the High School category for its active participation in Landcare activities as well as its dedicated environmental team who raise awareness and encourage active participation in environmental improvement activities.

Environmental team spokesman and Year 10 student Liam Nash said there had been significant behavioural change in the school fraternity since its environmental programs were put in place.

“It’s really important for us to have a connection to the environment, but a lot of kids these days don’t have that because they’re not outdoors as much,” Liam said.

“So when we do these things at school we can make those connections, and we learn a lot.”

Awaba Public School was awarded the overall winner in the Primary School category for developing an Environmental Management Plan, which is designed to help students and the community be more environmentally aware, as well as their ongoing participation in litter and waste reduction programs.

The winners of the awards were announced at a ceremony held in the Lake Macquarie City Council Chambers this morning. There were eight winners across eight awards categories.

The awards are sponsored by Hunter Resource Recovery, Delta Electricity, Sanitarium and Centennial Coal.

Winner profiles

Overall winner (Primary School) - Awaba Public School

Awaba Public School carried out a curriculum audit to identify current environmental teaching and find areas that can incorporate more sustainability components. Each year students participate in National Tree Day and Clean-up Australia day. Litter reduction is encouraged by a push towards reducing packaging in student lunch boxes and composting scraps, aiming to make this a bin-less school.

A playground and classroom bin system is in place that ensures students learn how to sort their waste into compost, recycling and garbage.

The school’s Environmental Management Plan is designed to help students and the community be more environmentally aware when dealing with such issues as waste management, energy consumption, land management and environmental education. Teachers in this school have incorporated environmental education in all stages of their teaching to further develop the school’s environmental sustainability program.

Awaba Public School has a 10 kilowatt solar system and other energy saving initiatives include participation in Earth Hour, energy audits, and signage at power points. Blinds are closed during hot weather to keep the rooms cool without having to use air conditioning. Students from the environment team hand water a thriving herb and vegetable garden from one of three rainwater tanks. The native beehive has been split into two hives helping to increase the number of native stingless bees that pollinate the school and surrounding gardens.

Overall winner (High School) - St Mary’s Catholic College, Gateshead

St Marys has a formally recognised environmental team that meet and speak regularly at school assemblies regarding environmental issues, to raise awareness and encourage active participation.

In the past 12 months this school has held eight Landcare days, with more than 150 students planting over 1000 native trees, shrubs and grasses along the banks of a local adjoining creek, and throughout the school grounds. Year 8 and 9 ecology units have recently introduced soil and water quality testing, and flora and fauna studies at this well established Landcare site.

Extra recycling bins, and an on-site clothing donation bin, help with waste reduction and reuse in this high school. This school recycles paper, aluminium cans, printer cartridges, mobile phones, and has a return and earn station. Fruit scraps are placed in compost bins and a worm farm and stingless native beehive help with pollination of local plants.

Water usage is monitored through the SUMs (smart utility management solutions) program, and reported monthly. Water monitoring and saving devices are installed in the school bathrooms, and water audits are conducted monthly. This school has 52 solar panels on the hall roof. Energy produced powers the school, with any leftover fed into the grid.

2018 Lake Macquarie School Environment Awards winners:

Overall winner – primary school, Awaba Public School

Overall winner – high school, St Mary’s Catholic College, Gateshead

Energy, Teralba Public School

Natural environment, Wyee Public School

Waste, St Mary’s Primary School Warners Bay

Water, Blacksmiths Public School

Innovation, Warners Bay Public School

Encouragement, Eleebana Public School

Page last updated: 24 October 2018