Lessons from Eco Club
By: Lorna McGillis, Vice-Principal, St. Anthony, Port Hope
Our rapidly changing environment prompts us to stop and think, and indeed take stock of how we live on our planet. We are called to respond and to adopt new ways of living as Pope Francis highlights in his encyclical, Laudato Si’: On Care for Our Common Home.
The response to this call by our school’s Eco Club members has been one that exhibits understanding, commitment and an embodiment of stewardship that lends hope that the future of our Earth is in capable and caring hands.
Speaking about her reasons for joining the Eco Club one student explains, “I wanted to be a part of something, to help out here at school and I wanted to increase my understanding of things like recycling and keeping the Earth clean.”
“We learn about different plants and how to grow them and keep them healthy,” says another Eco Club member.
In the warm days of September, St. Anthony’s Eco Club members tended our school garden, a bountiful testament to God’s wondrous gifts. The garden had been planted the previous spring. Started indoors from seeds, members nurtured their seedlings until they were hearty enough to be moved to the garden. A steady schedule (during lunch recesses) of bucket brigade watering and attentive weeding led to an abundant fall harvest of lettuce, peppers, tomatoes and beans. Eco Club members peeled, chopped, sliced and diced their way through a recipe for salsa, so full of flavour that it could defeat any grocery store brand.
“Saint Francis is the example par excellence of care for the vulnerable and of an integral ecology,” writes our Holy Father. “He is the patron saint of all who study and work in the area of ecology.”
Our students learned a lesson on the vulnerable as they devoted time and attention while on butterfly watch. A station was set up to display the metamorphosis of caterpillars into butterflies in the front lobby of our school. Watching, waiting, hoping and praying they bore witness to the wonder of nature as it unfolded before them.
“We learned about butterflies, and about other animals like frogs, fish, and the ‘love geese’ who come to live in our pond,” explains an Eco Club member.
Throughout the winter months, Eco Club efforts focus on indoor tasks such as classroom waste monitoring, recycling and compost collection. Each Monday, we award the coveted Golden Bin of Awesomeness to a classroom that received the highest points for proper sorting of waste the previous week. The school also promotes the use of refillable water bottles and responsible use of energy through Lights out Lunches.
Eco Club members exude a spirit of commitment as they travel through the halls with clipboards, buckets and bins. They enthusiastically rake leaves to make a protective blanket for the garden before winter, and nurture all forms of life that inhabit our school’s ecosystem. They are the stewards who show concern for all God’s creation and who are developing that inseparable bond between a concern for nature, commitment to society and interior peace, as did St. Francis. Our students are learning a great deal about not only the science of ecology, but other lessons too as reflected in the Catholic Graduate Expectations.
And so passes another school year at St. Anthony. Time to reflect and take stock of what has been accomplished and the lessons and relationships gained along the way. The Eco Club’s Picnic by the Pond will be a celebration of stewardship in the very best of nature’s venues.