Merici College's Fiona Buining (Sustainability/Science Teacher), Bec DeCourcy (Sustainability Officer) and Caitlin Treble (Year 10 Sustainability student) spoke to Genevieve Jacobs, Journalist at ABC Radio, about Merici College being selected as one of Australia's top Innovative Schools for 2017 in 'The Educator' magazine. 'The Educator' received a record number of entries this year so being selected as one of the final 40 nationwide is a fantastic achievement. Our submission provided details of our Sustainability/Healthy Canteen/Kitchen Garden Program. Healthy bodies are the perfect template to create a healthy mind. At Merici College we have created and established a healthy eating and drinking policy, social action and fundraising policy and an amazing canteen that supplies value for money meals and drinks without artificial flavours, colours or preservatives. Ingredients are sourced from our kitchen garden and fruit, meat and vegetables are sourced from local markets. Meals are created by staff and students in our state of the art Trade Training Centre. A variety of plates are served each day, cafeteria style with no packaging. Students also must sort their scraps into various bins for compost and recycling. This holistic approach ensures students are aware of the impact of paddock and pasture to plate and beyond.
Merici College’s focus on sustainability is evident throughout the curriculum for students across year levels. Every department incorporates content that empowers students to live more sustainable lives. Students learn skills that can be applied to environmental problems, content about environmental issues and solutions, and behaviours that help to reduce their impact on the environment. This learning is seen in humanities, mathematics, languages, technologies, creative arts, sciences, religious studies and sports. In 2016, Merici was awarded certification from ACTSmart Schools for having a curriculum focused on sustainability.
Merici College run the school canteen in order to provide a healthy alternative for students and staff and incorporate it into Merici’s vision of a more sustainable school. The key objectives of this Healthy Canteen are to:
• Provide affordable healthy food;
• Enable vocational students to get industry experience whilst studying;
• Encourage girls to sit and eat in a social environment;
• Reduce the amount of processed and packaged foods and drinks consumed by students;
• Enable the college to take positive steps towards sustainable practices to reduce, reuse and recycle.
The Healthy Canteen has since been a catalyst for other sustainability initiatives within the school. These include the establishment of a kitchen garden, the sustainability elective and improving waste management and energy efficiencies in the school. All these activities are integrated, and are either driven by student groups; SAM (Sustainability at Merici and led by Sustainability Captain) or part of the curriculum.
The school's Kitchen Garden aims to provide students with the practical experience in growing fruit and vegetables that promotes an understanding in sustainable food production. The core objectives are to:
• Provide students with the practical experience in growing their own fresh food;
• Use the garden to develop skills in design, vegetable cultivation and water management;
• Make use of produce from the garden to help promote healthy eating.
We are a flag ship school with students and staff participating and upholding the Sustainability initiatives. It is our priority, to provide for all our community an education that… develops the knowledge, skills, values and world views necessary for people to act in ways that
contribute to more sustainable patterns of living. (Australian Curriculum, Cross-Curriculum Priorities, Sustainability)
Listen to the full interview at the link below.
Mrs Loretta Wholley