Departure Bay Elementary School has been given the go-ahead to officially become an eco academy by the Nanaimo school board. According to Lisa Frey

Departure Bay Elementary School has been given the go-ahead to officially become an eco academy by the Nanaimo school board. According to Lisa Frey

Nanaimo school given green light to become eco academy

NANAIMO – Trustees gave Departure Bay Elementary School approval to become a green school.



The Nanaimo school board has given Departure Bay Elementary School the green light to become a green school.

Trustees gave unanimous approval Wednesday night, and the aim is to have an ecological-centric school that will yield students with knowledge of their place in the environment. According to Lisa Frey, principal, the eco-school has been running as a pilot project since September.

The curriculum adheres to the new B.C. Education Plan and many activities are project based, said Frey. They are multi-disciplinary, incorporating many subject areas into the activity.

Frey pointed to Grade 6 students working with Vancouver Island University students at the beginning of the school year to study varnish clams, an invasive species, at Departure Bay beach.

“They had to do some measurements. They had to measure all the varnish clams, they had to help organize that data, so they were working with data, and of course then, that meets what we are looking to do with the curriculum at that particular level.

“Collecting data, how to organize and display that data in a way that communicates information … in each of these projects there’s opportunity to cover many subject areas,” said Frey.

She said the school wants to continue to provide this type of program year after year, without having people pay fees, and to that end, it has applied for numerous grants. While there are none from the province, Frey said approximately $19,000 has been secured from a variety of organizations that support environmental initiatives, including WildBC, an environmental education program from the Habitat Conservation Trust Foundation.

“Certainly every year, we’ll be looking to complete grants, but I have to say, as far as in the environmental area, there’s not a shortage of groups and grant opportunities that support the kinds of initiatives that we have at our school.

“There have been many grants that have come to our attention, that we haven’t applied for, so I feel confident that there are lots of opportunity in the future,” said Frey.

Steve Rae, school board chairman, said he is hoping enrolment benefits.

“We’re hoping this kind of thing draws kids back from the private system. Long term, this is something that we should be offering in all our schools, that’s the goal of this district, is to be able to do that,” said Rae.

Frey said information on public meetings and registration deadlines will be forthcoming.

The school will change its name to Departure Bay Eco-School as a result.