EcoSchools Canada Recognizes St. James Catholic High School with Platinum Certification

St. James Catholic High School has achieved the highest recognition from EcoSchools Canada, Platinum certification.

EcoSchools Canada’s certification is a national recognition for kindergarten through to grade 12 schools honoring environmental excellence. By participating in the program, the school community receives a clear picture of their current environmental practices and enables them to take action to reduce their environmental footprint.

In order to receive the certification, St. James Environmental Council undertook 19 environmental actions, including the creation of a pollinator garden, professional development, and reducing single-use plastic waste. They then entered the actions online to earn points. Based on their accumulated submissions, the school application was assessed and awarded the highest of four levels of certification, Platinum.

While St. James has achieved several Silver and Gold certifications through their participation in the EcoSchools program over the years, this the first time the school’s Environmental Council has achieved Platinum.

With exceptional leadership and enthusiasm for the EcoSchools program, St. James’ Environmental Council President and Student Council member, Talia Yawney, explains the groundwork.

“At the beginning of the year we finalized a total of 19 actions to complete within our plan, some of them being mandatory and others we selected. Each action comes with a set of certification questions and requirements (ex. survey results), as well as points to be earned for that action. I and our environmental council members planned our events for the year around these actions in order to incorporate our ESC certification into every event including our Bee Week, Low Waste Week and Earth Week,” she said. “We aimed for Platinum Certification by planning for enough actions and points to reach the required amount, which is around 101. We went above and beyond tallying 143.25 points in total. After answering all of the certification questions and submitting our plan, we met with Eco Schools Canada representative, Rebecca, to solidify our plan and provide proof of our actions. Our collaboration and student involvement across the school is what made us stand out as a Platinum school.”

Yawney has been the Environmental Council President at St. James for the past two years, having been involved with the council and evolving ‘grass-roots’ ideas and environmental initiatives for three.

“Last year we wanted to work towards a Platinum Certification but were unable to complete it due to COVID-19. All schools within the program earned ‘certification level’. EcoSchools Canada took advantage of the missed certification year to completely redo their website and make it more efficient and flexible for the following year,” explained Yawney.

While Yawney is graduating and heading off to study Chemical Engineering at the University of Toronto after navigating this challenging year, she is proud of the council for earning this prestigious designation.

“I would like to say thank you to our incredible Environmental Council advisors Mrs. Musselman, Mrs. Zonneveld and Mrs. Young as well as all of our members, Valerie Monterroza Prieto, Aisha Zubair, Victoria Vieira, Yoskan Haile, Darla Bard, Sophia Freeman, Isabella VanMilligen, Elizabeth Malone, Chloe Jones, Stephanie Good and Joseph Kleingebbinck. In addition, thank you to the St. James Arts Council, Social Justice Club, Athletic Council and Student Council for collaborating with us. Mrs. Burns and her leadership class, Mr. Kaufman and his TERRA class, head custodian Mr. Aramini, our school administrators, and all partners involved in the serenity and pollinator garden project including Moritz Sanio, Kiki Danniger, Mr. Lawrenson, Mr. Glaab, Ms. Lyle, Ms. Nealson, Ms. Hazlett and Mr. Della Savin and his construction class. Thank you for all of your hard work and your role in helping St. James earn this Platinum Certification,” she said.