Holding bags full of recyclable plastic, Walnut Grove Secondary students joined science teacher Tim Stephenson inside Stephenson’s classroom that’s outfitted with LED lights that run off a solar panel mounted on the roof of the school. WGSS earned a $20,000 prize to go towards technology, because of the school’s eco-friendly initiatives. Troy Landreville Langley Times

Eco-friendly school nets cash award from Staples and Earth Day Canada

Langley’s Walnut Grove Secondary one of two B.C. schools recognized in Superpower your School contest

Eco-friendly Walnut Grove Secondary students and staff have ‘super-powered’ their school, and netted a sizable grant in the process.

Staples and Earth Day Canada have selected the Langley high school as one of 10 winners in the national Superpower your School contest.

The school was chosen from among more than 740 applicants for its outstanding sustainability efforts and environmental initiatives.

Principal Balan Moorthy said students have led some ambitious environmental initiatives in the school.

“They’ve been recycling plastic, to get the plastic water bottles out of the school,” Moorthy said.

“It’s all the initiatives combined: it’s the lights-out campaign, it’s the fact that one of the (students) is doing a specific directive study on analyzing the different ph levels of oceans — she’s got fish tanks that are displayed in the school… and they are changing the mediums to see how it affects the simulated ocean life. We’ve got a number of initiatives in the school.”

An example: WGSS includes a classroom outfitted with LED lights that run off a solar panel mounted on the roof of the school. Teacher Tim Stephenson stands at the head of the class delivering science lessons to students under dimmed LEDs while referring to the projected image behind him that is coming from his iPad — also solar-powered.

“You combine those (projects) all together and I think that’s the driving initiative for us being the eco-friendly school,” Moorthy said.

A school assembly is scheduled for April 19 to celebrate the win, which includes national recognition and a shopping spree of $20,000 in new technology products from Staples Canada.

Walnut Grove is one of 10 schools — five elementary and five secondary — from across Canada to earn this distinction.

The tech ‘shopping sprees’ are part of the Superpower your School contest organized annually by Staples and Earth Day Canada to mark Earth Month and celebrate “ecovators” of all ages – both students and teachers.

Walnut Grove student Elysia Park wrote to Staples, listing the initiatives.

“The smallest efforts to raise awareness about the issues regarding the environment has expanded to major projects that are partnered with neighboring schools and companies,” Park wrote.

“Our initiatives started with installing a water bottle filling station to reduce the use of plastic bottles. Every break, there is a line of students and teachers with reusable water bottles in their hands waiting to fill their water bottles.”

Park added, “with the support of the school’s science department, a group of students passionate about the oceans have created an IDS (Independent Directed Study) credit course by setting up four saltwater tanks in the science hall to emulate ocean acidification and global warming. The tanks are flourishing with life and are visited by countless students that pass in the hallways to be alarmed by the effects of their carbon footprint.”

Walnut Grove has also partnered up with a UN award winning company – The Plastic Bank, Park noted.

“It’s a company (that) harvests plastic waste to alleviate poverty in developing nations. Together, our green team has created the first single-use plastic contest in school where teachers and students collect their single use plastic and bring it to school for a chance to win prizes that are eco-friendly,” Park said.

“Some of the single use plastics are also used as materials for the future engineers of our school.”

As well, Walnut Grove’s engineering club has been creating prototypes of products that are produced by 100 per cent single used plastics.


‘Thoroughly impressed’

“Through the program, we’re able to see the incredible depth of eco-stewardship found in the Canadian character, particularly in our schools,” said David Boone, Chief Executive Officer of Staples Canada.

“I’m thoroughly impressed and inspired by the initiative and passion shown by our young minds and members of the education community as they come up with ideas that have local impact and make the world a more livable, enjoyable place.”

Organized in partnership with Earth Day Canada, the contest recognizes Canadian schools that are paving the road to youth participation in environmental protection by teaching current and future generations about the importance of sustainable development.

“From a chicken coop on campus that provides eggs for the school’s breakfast and lunch programs, to establishing an annual forest festival that engages 2,000 children, the work of this year’s winners goes far beyond traditional school initiatives,” says Earth Day Canada president Deborah Doncaster.

“The winners are an inspiration and we are proud to recognize and celebrate their efforts.”

Winners of the 2018 Staples Superpower your School Contest are:

British Columbia and Yukon

Elementary: École Margaret Jenkins School, Victoria

Secondary: Walnut Grove Secondary School, Langley

Atlantic Canada

Elementary: Petite Rivière Elementary, Petite Rivière, Nova Scotia

Secondary: Waterford Valley High, St. John’s, Newfoundland & Labrador


Elementary: Vimy Ridge Public School, Ajax, Ont.

Secondary: East Elgin Secondary School, Aylmer, Ont.


Elementary: École Alternative des Cheminots, La Prairie, Que.

Secondary: Louis-Philippe-Paré, Châteauguay

Western Canada

Elementary: St. Joseph School, Calgary

Secondary: Central Memorial and the Career Technology Centre, Calgary

“We hope the new technology and boost in recognition will lead to even more projects in 2019 and that, together, we can encourage more and more ecovators and ecovation in Canada,” Boone adds.

First launched in 2011, the program has awarded a total of $1.95 million in tech products to some 80 schools.

To learn about the winning projects, visit www.staples.ca/powereco.

– Files from the Langley School District

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