AWARD Teachers and pupils from Scoil Chroí Ró Naofa, Bangor Erris at their Green Flag ceremony. They were joined by Principal Kathleen Doherty, Mayo County Council Cathaoirleach, Cllr Seamus Weir, Cllr Gerry Coyle, Dara Calleary TD, Fr Brian Conlon, Cllr Michelle Mulherin and Cllr Tim Quinn. Pic: John O’Grady
Another first for Bangor NS as green flag is proudly raised
THE PUPILS and teachers of Bangor Erris National School were celebrating a unique double last week when they became the first school in Erris to secure a second green flag award.
In 2006, the school was the first in Erris to secure the green flag award and their hard work continued in the intervening two years, resulting in the award of the second green flag. On Wednesday, Cllr Seamus Weir, Cathaoirleach of Mayo County Council, and former Erris Person of the Year, Mrs Bridie Quinn, had the honour of raising the flag.
A large crowd, which included Ms Anna Dunlop of An Taisce, Dara Calleary, TD, Cllr Michelle Mulherin, Clrr Gerry Coyle, Cllr Tim Quinn, parents and well-wishers, attended the special celebration. The celebration included a play by the infant classes, entitled ‘Daffy Daffodil’, another sketch entitled ‘Energy Savers’ by first and second classes, an informative ‘Energy News’ item by third and fourth classes and a hugely entertaining recycling fashion show by fifth and sixth classes.
Mrs Kathleen Doherty, Principal of Bangor Erris NS, thanked all the people involved in the Green Flag project for their help throughout the year and reflected on the hard work done by the staff and pupils since the first flag was raised in 2006.
“The focus on energy conservation in the last two years has achieved great results in reducing the amount of energy we waste each year. First and second classes’ art work, third and fourth classes’ volcanoes experiments and study of Bellacorick power station and fifth and sixth classes’ Energy Squad have contributed immensely to the pupils’ understanding of energy usage and wastage. Our energy audit carried out by the ESB was amazing and we clearly understood where the energy wastage was occurring with this very useful audit.
“This green flag represents not only a wake-up call for our school, it has led the children to bring their convictions home and into the wider community, saving energy all round,” she said.
Mrs Dohety outlined future projects in the pipeline, including the further development of the school garden with a live sally rod sculpture at its centre. She thanked Mayo County Council and businesses who supported the school, saying that without their help the vegetable garden, mini beast habitat, bird sanctuary, ornamental garden, lake and wild flower garden would not have been possible.
She also paid tribute to the school’s Board of Management for their support of all the school’s projects and she said the enthusiasm for the Green Flag project in the school meant that work was starting on securing the school’s third green flag in two years’ time. She paid tribute to the staff, Mrs Marie O’Donnell, Deputy Principal, Mr Liam Lavelle, Mrs Anne Neary, Ms Dolores Garvin, Mr Pat Moran and Ms Sara O’Mara, claiming nothing would be achieved without their dedication and hard work.
Cooneal NS shows dedication to environment
“IF WE TRY we can make really make a difference. Save our lovely planet.” These were the words that rang out from the infant classes in Cooneal NS last week as the school proudly raised its second green flag.
Green Schools Officer for Cooneal NS, Finola Ruane, paid tribute to everybody involved in the green schools initiative and particularly commended the children of the school. “Without them it wouldn’t have happened,” she said.
The children of the school, decked in various green-themed costumes, entertained past pupils, teachers, parents, members of the board of management, representatives from Mayo County Council, Fr James Corcoran and Fr Peter O’Brien with song and dance as they gathered together to celebrate the school’s second green flag, symbolising dedication to energy conservation.
Mary Forde, Environmental Enforcement Officer with Mayo County Council, praised the dedication of the children of the school and said she had absolutely no hesitation awarding the school the second green flag.
“Even the junior children were aware they were working on the topic of energy and energy awareness,” said Ms Forde.
“The senior pupils had gone into extreme depth and knew about sources of renewable energy, why we should be reducing our dependency on fossil fuels and the importance of reducing our bills.”
Fianna Fáil Dáil Deputy, Dara Calleary, raised the green flag for the school and spoke about the importance of the initiative.
“It is evident that the pupils are living up to everything they learnt the first time. In this day and age it is very important to learn how to save energy,” said Deputy Calleary, urging parents to pay heed to the children’s knowledge of energy conservation.
“When they learn at this age they will bring it with them through their lives.”
Deputy Calleary congratulated everybody involved and paid tribute to the involvement of Mayo County Council in the project, saying that he didn’t know of any other Council who put as much effort into the green flag programme.
Deputy Calleary also offered a novel idea of ensuring pupils, and indeed teachers, did not litter their environment by suggesting that any person who was found littering was given a detention based on their age – one minute for each year!
Having received the first green flag two years ago for environmental awareness, the flag for energy efficiency was a natural progression and the school already has its sights set on a third green flag. The green flag committee consisted of pupils Siobhan Higgins, Cathal Boland, Sinead O’Boyle, Harry Lawlor, Leanne Bilbao, Shane Maheady and Niamh O’Donnell and Mary McLoughlin, school secretary, along with special needs assistant Maureen Melvin.
Principal Martha O’Shaughnessy said the school was trying to bring energy awareness out into the community and was dedicated to keeping an eye on the school’s carbon footprint.
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.
Unlike a once-off project, it is a long-term programme that introduces participants to the concept of an environmental management system. Green Schools also foster a strong sense of citizenship and leadership among participants that spreads far outside the school into the wider community.
Community spirit lauded at special Ballindine day
“See you, green flag,” said High Infants pupil Stephen Niland, as he gazed in admiration at the new emblem fluttering high on the poll in the evening breeze on his way out from Ballindine school. It was a lovely moment in time, a child’s splendid sense of perception winning through as the rest of us passed by without hardly noticing the flag at all.
An hour earlier, John Grant, CEO of the Western Alzheimer’s Foundation, together with local Davitts and Mayo senior footballer Colm Boyle (a past pupil), had jointly presided at the raising of the flag.
For the pupils and staff of Ballindine National School, it was the culmination of many months of long hours and hard work. But the primary focus of securing green flag status was never lost sight of and it was worth all the effort when the happy school community gathered outside the school for the ceremony on Friday.
The Green Flag project has been a huge success countrywide and has created enormous awareness of environmental issues and the need to exercise care in the management of the eco-system.
The school principal, Mary Glynn, led the words of welcome and outlined the background to the journey to green flag status. “It all started last year when the children approached the teachers asking to join the Green Schools programme. From then on, it was committee meetings, action plans, measuring and monitoring rubbish bins and making sure everyone sorted the rubbish properly.
“A large compost bin was placed in the grounds and smaller ones in each classroom. Reduce, Reuse and Recycle soon became the order of the day in Ballindine NS. The teachers’ enthusiasm would have waned many times but the children were so eager for their committee meetings and intent on getting the green flag, that the whole school became involved, from infants to sixth class.
“I am not at all surprised at the volunteering and community spirit shown by the Ballindine school children because they were surrounded by this same spirit in the local community. Ballindine is the prettiest town on the N17 because volunteers sow and look after those beautiful flowers all summer. The old school has been converted into a wonderful community centre and playground where the parish council hosts parties for the children on special occasions. The two graveyards, flags, bunting and today’s party are all thanks to the many volunteers we are blessed with in Ballindine.”
She thanked all the teachers in the school – Anne Burke, Martin O’Brien, Maria Henry and TJ McGreal – secretary Mary Barrett, the caretaker Larry Goggins, the parents, Parents’ Association, Board of Management and all the community for their encouragement and support along the way.
Fr Martin O’Connor, PP, presided at the blessing ceremony and congratulated all associated with this special day in the history of Ballindine school.
John Grant joined in the plaudits and told the gathering that ‘great credit’ was due to the young people and to the staff for the manner in which they had undertaken the Green Flag project and brought it to fruition. John Halligan, chairman of the Board of Management, was unable to attend as he was supervising the Leaving and Junior Cert exams but he sent his best wishes and congratulations to everyone.
A very enjoyable party was hosted by the Parents’ Association in the school after the ceremony and PJ Barrett proved the music for the outdoor disco where the children were joined by some enthusiastic parents for the Birdie Song, Rock the Boat, and the Hokey Pokey. That’s what it’s all about!