SECOND GREEN FLAG FOR ST DYMPNA’S NS TYDAVNET
Michael Fisher Northern Standard Thursday 18th June p.39
Two flags now fly proudly at the entrance to St Dympna’s National School in Tydavnet, marking their contribution to preserving the environment. In a special ceremony last week, past pupil and now successful video games designer Terry Cavanagh from Tullyvogey returned from England to raise the second Green Flag awarded to the school. He was assisted by another former pupil, Frances Treanor from Drumdart, who received national acclaim recently when she was overall winner of the Texaco Children’s Art competition.
The Green Flags are part of a international scheme to encourage schools to develop action programme for reducing litter and waste and conserving energy. Green-Schools is an international environmental education programme, environmental management system and award scheme that promotes and acknowledges long-term, whole school action for the environment. At European level, Eco-Schools is operated by the Foundation for Environmental Education whose main partners include the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).
Green-Schools in Ireland is operated and co-ordinated by the Environmental Education Unit of An Taisce in partnership with local authorities throughout the country, such as Monaghan County Council, and is sponsored by the Wrigley Company Ltd.
Over 3,800 primary, secondary and special schools in Ireland are currently participating part in the programme and 2991 schools have been awarded a Green Flag. The Irish Green-Schools programme is one of the most successful within the international network.
Green-Schools is a themed and seven-step programme. Schools undertaking the programme work through the seven steps one theme at a time. The themes in sequence are:
- Litter & Waste
- Global Citizenship – Litter & Waste
- Global Citizenship – Energy
The school drew up an action programme last year as part of their attempt to earn a second flag. Led by the principal Fiona Connolly and the Board of Management chaired by Peter Cavanagh, they applied to the Summer Works Scheme for funding to replace single glazed windows with double glazing in order to conserve energy.
At the start of the new school year last September, two members from Senior Infants were chosen to replace sixth class pupils on their action committee. The principal and senior pupils organised senior pupils to do door duty on the main door on cold or wet days to ensure the doors remain closed in order to retain heat as much as possible in the building. They also organised a low energy action day, and formed a ‘Switch it Off’ squad to monitor lights and appliances. Pupils were asked to write poems or draw pictures on the theme of energy conservation and these were displayed near the entrance to the school, along with a diagram showing the reduction in the amount of electricity the school had used over a twelve months period.
Among the snappy slogans the children came up with were:
“When you’re in bed, make sure all the energy is dead”, “Don’t waste energy”, “Energy misused cannot be excused” and “Switch the switch to slow down global warming”. The event was described succinctly in this report (published on the school website) by one of the pupils: Caoimhe McCarra, 6th class, Secretary of Green Schools Committee
The Green Flag ceremony started at 11:00 sharp. Miss Connolly told Ben and I to start. Ben welcomed everyone and talked about what he does as Chairman of the Committee. I talked about what I do as secretary. Mrs Slowey’s class did a poem called ‘Growing’ by Linda Hamill and sang a song called ‘Marvellous Things’. Mrs Meehan’s class said a poem called ‘Éirigí a pháistí’ and sang ‘An Brat Glas’. The Senior Speech and Drama class performed a wonderful mime. Miss Connolly’s class sang ‘Happy’ and a One Direction Medley. Miss Connolly made a presentation to Mrs Mc Crudden because she is sadly leaving us at the end of the year. Peter Cavanagh said a few words on behalf of the Board of Management. He then called on his son Terence Cavanagh who came from London for the day! Terence showed us equipment he used to code and programme when he was our age. Miss Connolly got a massive shock the whole school kept secret from her! We made a card and everyone in the school signed it. She also got a lovely present. Mrs Finnegan got a bunch of flowers. We then proceeded down to where the flag was being raised. We counted down 5-4-3-2-1 and up it went! Everybody got ice cream and sauce. We were delighted!