All Green and Exciting for Bishop Ray’s Visit

There was great excitement amongst the children at Muire Gan Smál Presentation Primary School, Castleisland on Thursday, June 5th ahead of the arrival of our new Bishop of Kerry to the school. The school was an absolute hub of activity all week with everyone eager to assist the dedicated Green School Committee with their ‘Spring Clean’ campaign ahead of the big day. The event was organised to celebrate the school’s phenomenal achievement of being awarded their fifth Green Flag for care for the environment.

The celebrations began with a presentation from the Green School Committee and prayer service led by Canon Mangan followed by the raising of the recently awarded Green Flag by Bishop Ray to the cheers and applause of the many children and guests gathered. Bishop Browne was then led to the new Gáirdín na Scoile which he officially opened and blessed. Children from Ms Twiss’ class, Mrs Kearney’s, Mrs O’Mahony’s class, Ms Browne’s class and Mrs Smith’s class then each came forward in turn to help Bishop Ray plant five apple trees in the already beautiful school garden.

Bishop Ray then took the time to chat with the children. Many hands were shook and even a few ‘high fives’ given before the children went off to enjoy their well deserved goodie bags and the adults enjoyed some light refreshments to the splendid sound of the school choir who were outstanding as always. A fantastic day was had by all and one we hope the children will remember for many years to come.

Green-Schools, known internationally as Eco-Schools, is an international environmental education programme, environmental management system and award scheme that promotes and acknowledges long-term, whole school action for the environment.

Eco-Schools is operated by the Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE) whose main partners include the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). One of the key success factors of the Green-Schools programme is that it is a themed programme. That is, schools undertaking the programme work through the seven steps one theme at a time.

The themes in sequence are: 1). Litter & Waste. 2). Energy. 3). Water. 4). Travel. 5). Biodiversity. 6). Global Citizenship – Litter & Waste.

Therefore, for a school to be working on the Energy theme they must have completed the seven steps for litter & waste and achieved their Green-Flag. For a school to be working on Biodiversity they would have to have gone through the seven steps with Travel and renewed their Green-Flag and so on. The use of themes helps prevent schools from trying to deal with every aspect of their environment at once, which could be overwhelming. Furthermore, it allows schools to build on their experience, expertise and best practice as they work from theme to theme. However, as schools work from theme to theme they quickly realise that there is quite a bit of overlap between the themes (e.g. recycling waste is a great way of using less energy and water to produce new products).

The Green School programme was first introduced to Muire Gan Smál by former teacher Mary Walsh who along with former principal Marie O’Connor was amongst the many guests invited to the celebrations on Thursday. Caitriona Leen then followed in Mary’s footsteps inspiring a new green school committee each year to continue the great work. More recently Claire Smith and Marie Murphy have taken on the role along with a brand new dedicated Green School Committee for the 2013-2014 school year. All of the above were rightfully acknowledged and thanked on Thursday at an event that was truly celebratory in nature, along with every single child in the school who have each done their own little bit to make the Green School programme at Muire Gan Smál the huge success that it has become. Thanks also went to all of the teachers and staff members both past and present who have contributed.