Lesley Wright

Lesley Wright

Uplands Elementary finalist for computer lab prize

NANAIMO – School's recycling program caught the eye of judges in the competition.

Students, staff and even the local community could come out big winners in the Staples Canada 2014 Recycle for Education contest.

Uplands Elementary School is named as one of 20 B.C. finalists in the contest, held in collaboration with Earth Day Canada. Close to 700 elementary and secondary schools submitted entries, detailing their environmental initiatives.

To get the attention of contest judges, each school had to describe how it incorporates recycling programs into its daily school activities.

Stella Robinson, Uplands school secretary, said students put all their juice boxes and other recyclables in bins outside their classrooms. Students with special needs and their education assistants collect those into large bags that are picked up about twice a month. Deposit returns raised from turning in the packages, cans and bottles are deposited into an account.

“We put that into an account try to buy food for the kids who come to school without food,” Robinson said.

Lesley Wright’s kindergarten class composts leftover fruit, banana peels and other items with red wriggler earthworms that break down the waste and create castings that make a rich compost that can be mixed with dirt and used in the school’s garden. The children are growing sunflowers from the compost as part of learning how their efforts pay off.

Wright is also teaching her students about invasive species and will be involving the staff and students in a broom-busting campaign to remove Scotch broom from around the school.

“Teaching the kindergarteners about the environment is super close to my heart,” Wright said. “I’m very passionate about recycling and doing a little bit more and a little bit more just to get those brains started when they’re five to love our earth and to know that we’re the people who are expected to take care of it.”

If the school wins the computer lab grand prize, Wright said it could be used to make presentations to other schools to promote environmental initiatives and possibly be made available as a resource for families in the area that can’t afford computers of their own.

Only two schools from each of five regions across Canada will be selected to receive $25,000 each toward the purchase of new technology and computer lab equipment.

The contest winners will be announced in early May.