As a successful week of Earth Day-inspired activities comes to a close, we are pleased to announce that J. H. Bruns is one of ten Superpower Your School contest winners. Staples awards five elementary schools and five high schools from across Canada with a $20,000 technology grant to purchase items that will help each school with its environmental programming and activism.
J. H. Bruns has been working on environmental issues since 2005 when eight young women in grade twelve started ESP, the Earth Stewardship Program. Over the years, students at J. H. Bruns have been the catalysts for the banning of single-use water bottles and Styrofoam in our school division, partnering with CJS, Dakota Collegiate, and other high schools along the way. J. H. Bruns has been composting since 2009 in our effort to divert CO2 and methane gas-producing organic material from the landfill. This year, students are building a machine to help us divert other organic materials (meat, bread, etc.) from the landfill. In 2015, students worked to eliminate Styrofoam and plastic whiteboard erasers by manufacturing a hemp-fabric eraser made from organic, fair-trade material. The erasers work so well that the teachers who use them no longer require the whiteboard spray cleanser, and so can eliminate another plastic bottle from the recycling bin.
In November of 2016, J. H. Bruns conducted the first of five school-wide waste audits with the help of the Green Action Centre. Using the premise that "the world becomes what we teach" (Zoe Weil) Bruns students became "solutionaries" and many projects were born. This innovative approach had the grade nines (ELA) and the grade tens (geography) collecting all of the trash/recycling over a 24-hour period. They then had to sort the waste, collect the data, and begin problem-solving. Students researched and then purchased refillable whiteboard markers, which are now in use at the school. The waste audits occur each semester.
Our students in SLP are instrumental in helping Bruns become more environmentally responsible by running our battery recycling program, the "bag it" program, and the "Tabs for Scarlett" program. They grow seedlings and then help us to plant and harvest the garden each spring and fall.
In January of 2017, Bruns became a part of a National Inquiry Project and Dialogue on Climate Change sponsored by Green Learning. Our mission (along with 25 schools from across the country) was to determine how we might "become a low carbon and prosperous Canada." We participated in WebEx Webinars, working with students in other provinces. Projects included improving water and waste management (advocating for the replacement of outdated toilets), improving the composting system, and planting a garden with the help of a Shaw/United Way grant. Students met with the city councilor in charge of the Water and Waste Department, presented their work at a climate conference, and made a presentation to the Board of Trustees. In May 2017, we participated in a Webinar with Minister of the Environment and Climate Change, Catherine McKenna.
The $20,000 in grant money from Staples will be used to support the work being done in the geography and science courses at J. H. Bruns, as well as in the new Innovation and Design program.
Thank you to Staples for their support.