Scoil Chroí Ró Naofa in Clones, Co. Monaghan is a large primary school school with over 200 students and 13 teachers. The school received it's first Green-Flag in 2004 for it's work on waste & litter and successfully renewed their flag in 2006. The Green-Schools committee is democratically elected each September. Nominations are taken and ballot papers made by the outgoing members, the prospective candidates have to give reasons why they should be elected to the committee and how they believe they can contribute to the work of the group. Outgoing members are encouraged to put themselves up for re-election to ensure continuity, also the numbers on the committee increase as the children move up the school. Junior infants are co-opted onto the committee in the last term each year to familiarise them with the work. The older children also operate a 'buddy' system and bring the younger members along to empty bins and go on litter patrol so that they will know how to carry out tasks in the event of senior classes not being available or when they move onto second level schools.
The Energy review was carried out in each classroom and children were asked to examine ways in which they could save energy. Pupils could also leave their energy saving ideas in 'suggestion boxes'.
New targets in trying to reduce the amount of energy consumption in the school were set and these targets have been achieved within the constraints of the school building which has an ‘archaic heating system and dodgy wiring and plumbing’. Because of their ancient heating system they were unable to turn down thermostats (heating system has two settings: on or off!) so a decision was made to switch their energy supplier to Airtricity to encourage the use of renewable forms of energy. Scoil Chroí Ró Naofa will move into a new building next year which will have lots of energy saving features such as sensor lighting and will be insulated to a very high standard with lots of natural light.
Energy monitors are selected by each class to ensure that lights, computers, etc. are not left on when the room is empty.
Litter & Waste
The school has adopted a 'zero tolerance' approach to litter.
The school is now a centre in the locality for collecting items for recycling (household batteries, mobile phones, chargers, printer cartridges and used stamps). They also provide a facility for people who are unable to travel all the way to ‘Scotch Corner Recycling Centre’. The children, staff and parents will even collect batteries, bags of clothes, stamps, etc. from elderly people or from those who can't come to the school during opening hours.
'Fruity Friday' was introduced to reduce the amount of waste for landfill by eating fruit and encourage healthier food choices.
Children are encouraged to bring re-usable containers to school for lunch and drinks and they have virtually eliminated the use of plastic film and aluminium foil for lunches.
Days of Action
Take part every year in a local 'Clean-Up' day. It is usually held on a Saturday in April and over thirty children from the school turned up last year to make Scoil Chroí Ró Naofa the largest group taking part. The waste collected was separated into recyclable and landfill waste.
The school attended a number of workshops run by Sustainable Energy Ireland and these proved to be of great benefit to the children in helping them learn about where energy comes from and how it can be conserved.
The Parents Association paid for a trip for the committee to visit the Ecos Centre in Ballymena in early February 2006 – the children prepared their questions and impressed the director of the centre with their grasp of and interest in environmental issues. This visit was invaluable as pupils saw how alternative sources of energy i.e. solar, wind and willow (biomass) are used to supply heat and power in a building and they could find out about sustainable living in a 'hands-on' way e.g. measuring their 'environmental footprint'.
Informing and Involving
Scoil Chroí Ró Naofa has played host to a local second level school, as they prepare to take up the challenge and work towards obtaining a Green Flag. .
Pupils from the school appeared on the local radio station, 'Northern Sound', following the award of their first Green Flag in 2004. Cavan Vocational School heard all about this and subsequently two teachers accompanied by a group of transition year students visited Scoil Chroí Ró Naofa in September 2004 with a view to getting ideas for setting up their own Green-Schools programme. The pupils in Scoil Chroí Ró Naofa gave their visitors a guided tour and showed how they had achieved their goals through trial and error.
The committee has published articles in the Clones Community Forum newsletter; this magazine is published three times a year and goes out to every house in the town and surrounding villages in Monaghan and Fermanagh. So they are getting their message out across the border too. They also frequently put notices in the local parish bulletin (also cross border) to remind people that they can leave their batteries, mobile phones, etc. with us for recycling.
In March 2005 the school received word from RTE 2's NEWS2DAY programme that they had been picked from over 2,000 entries to make a programme. The seven senior members of the committee who had made the application for the competition took part in the programme and did a very good job of promoting the school, town and Green-Schools programme. The finished programme was shown on the 'Den'.
A group from 5th and 6th class were invited to take part in a television programme called 'Great Trees of Britain' which will be broadcast on BBC2 in the autumn of 2006.
We can expect ‘Scoil Chroí Ró Naofa TV’ in the very near future!