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Silver celebrations for Weston School's environmental efforts

Waitaki App

Ashley Smyth

27 June 2024, 12:19 AM

Silver celebrations for Weston School's environmental effortsCelebrating silver are Waitaki Enviroschools lead Chantal Barnes (left) and Weston School Enviroschools lead teacher Erina Simpson, with Envirogroup members Amelia Claridge (year 8) and Mason Wrenn (year 7). Photo: Supplied

It has taken a village for Weston School to be named a Silver Enviroschool - the second in the Waitaki District. 

Weston’s Enviroschools lead teacher Erina Simpson thanked a number of organisations and individuals during her acceptance of the school’s Silver reflection certificate this week.

Waitaki District Council Waste Minimisation officer and Enviroschool lead Chantal Barnes handed over the framed certificate, as part of the school’s Matariki celebrations on Tuesday (June 25).

In the past two years, as a Bronze Enviroschool, Weston’s orchard area has been extended by 10 fruit trees thanks to a grant from the North Otago Tree Planting Association; compost bins and a recycling station have been established using council grants and with help from Chantal and her waste minimisation team-mate Lucianne White, along with Trish Hurley from the Waitaki Resource Recovery Park.

Former and current school groundsmen Geoff Brown and Gus Caldwell were acknowledged for “going above and beyond” in their roles, including helping to establish new raised gardens, and keeping them watered. 

“We’d be lost without your help,” Erina said.

Ōamaru’s Mitre 10 Mega has also been “very supportive of us as an Enviroschool”, she said, with bags of seed raising mix, containers, seeds, gardening tools and more than 50 pairs of reusable gardening gloves donated, meaning funds could be spent elsewhere.

Local individuals Damian Burnett, Alton Davies, Blair Mathieson, and Linda Wilson were also thanked for contributions they made to various projects.

Erina acknowledged Linda as a “true treasure”, whose knowledge, support and work on the gardens is “so very much appreciated”.

Funds raised by the Weston Home and School have gone towards an additional garden shed, which will go up once junior classroom renovations are complete, and alongside this will sit a new picnic table, donated by the Waiareka Valley Lions Club, with a plaque in honour of John Thomson who recently passed away. 

“John lived in Weston his whole life and was educated here at the Weston School. He was the instigator behind the Lions Club picnic table project and a Waiareka Lions Club Foundation member,” Erina told the school community. 

Special acknowledgement also went to retired Weston teacher Jenny Kitchin, who began the school’s Envirogroup.

“You had great vision Jenny, amazing drive and passion,” Erina said.

“As you can see, we have a wonderful support network behind Weston School when it comes to Enviroschools. We look forward to now incorporating the kitchen classroom into our programme, with more garden-to-plate activities over the coming years,” she added.

Lucianne says she and Chantal are excited to keep supporting Weston School on its sustainability journey “and see what great things they get up to next”.

“We support and facilitate the Enviroschools journey for three early childhood centres and thirteen schools in Waitaki, with Maheno Kindergarten and Weston School the two centres who have now reflected at Silver,” she says.

Maheno Kindergarten received its Silver status in July last year.

“When centres reflect at Silver, they are looking at where they have come from, and how they have deepened their whole school approach to sustainability since they reflected at Bronze.” 

The Enviroschools kaupapa is about creating a healthy, peaceful, sustainable world through learning and taking action together, she says.

“Each Enviroschool’s journey is different and pausing to reflect at different stages is an integral part of the learning cycle; helping to deepen sustainable practices, look backwards on where they have come from, celebrate the learnings, people and actions taken and gain clarity on where they want to go next,” Lucianne says.


Photo: supplied/Enviroschools Otago Facebook