2017 has been a year of achievements at St Jude’s Parish Primary School in Langwarrin. In November, the school became the 47th school in Victoria to achieve 5Star certification.
Over the past 3 years, staff and students at St Jude’s have worked hard to complete all 5 modules and reduce resource usage and waste to landfill to below the benchmark targets set by Sustainability Victoria.
All students at St Jude’s are involved in sustainability efforts. The ELF team (Environmental Leaders of the Future) meet each week to complete tasks and work on sustainability projects around the school. This includes promoting nude food, collecting food scraps and maintaining the compost and worm farms, managing the recycling program and working in the garden. Produce grown in the garden is used in weekly cooking lessons. Extra produce is sold to the school community to raise money to support the sustainability programs.
Recently, there has been a major focus on reducing electricity usage and waste to landfill.
In the last quarter of 2016, the school invested in more solar panels. With support from the school board, a 25kW system was installed on the school hall. This has resulted in a reduction in electricity use from 355.48 KWh per student in 2014 to just 133.64 kWh per student in 2017, well below the 250kWh per student benchmark.
In the first half of 2017 the ELF team turned their attention to the amount of rubbish in the landfill skip. By monitoring the amount of landfill in the skip and through waste saving efforts, they were able to reduce the frequency of the pickup from once a week to once every three weeks, with the ultimate goal to have the skip collected just once a month. This was achieved in the second half of 2017. This has resulted in a reduction from 0.76m3 per student in 2014 to 0.22m3 in 2017.
The students are also sharing their sustainability efforts with the wider community. Throughout the year, a number of preschools and day-care centres have visited St Jude’s to participate in activities in the garden with the student leaders. This has developed the students’ skills in leadership, teamwork, cooperation, project ownership, public speaking and an awareness outside of the school community.
Students also participate in Parks Victoria’s Kids Teaching Kids event at Point Nepean each year. This year, two groups of students ran workshops for other students. One group presented on the Journey of Three Plastic Bottles.
These efforts have not gone unnoticed. In June 2016, St Jude’s was awarded Frankston City Council’s Sustainable School of the Month with a visit from the mayor and a feature in the local newspaper. This year, as well as achieving 5Star certification, St Jude’s were also finalists for Community Leadership Primary School of the Year in the 2017 ResourceSmart Schools Awards.
In 2018, St Jude’s have set their sights on redeveloping the school’s wetlands to provide an outdoor learning space and learning environment.
St Jude’s are a fantastic example of sustainable practice being embedded throughout an entire school. Their efforts to make significant resource reductions and engage with their wider community is recognised in their achievement of 5Star certification.
Written by Nick Rickard, CERES Outreach Educator