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Students worm their way to accolades

Jillian Dickens
Northern News Services

Iqaluit (Dec 12/05) - Aqsarniit middle school in Iqaluit is the head of the class when it comes to the environment.

NNSL Photo/graphic

Aqsarniit middle school Environment Club member Justine Cooperkang shows off the worms that make the Iqaluit school's composting efforts really come alive. - Jillian Dickens/NNSL photo

The environment club, spearheaded by two Grade 6 teachers - Josefina Rueter and Shannon Hessian - has made a real difference at the school and in the community.

It is kept alive by the 25 kids who attend meetings every Monday.

They helped start the city's blue bin program. They also started their own green bin program for recycling paper, and worm bins for recycling compost.

The school was recently awarded the Canadian Network for Environmental Education and Communication Award for Excellence in Environmental Education.

"The school has done 670 environmental projects in two years," said Rueter, who is rooting for a Green School designation, which takes 1,000 environment-based projects. We think we'll get that by the end of the year."

Rueter says it's not just the environment club that won the award, it's all the staff and all the students who take part in these projects.

The environment club is split into three groups. There's the education team, which makes presentations to schools on matters of the environment.

There's the action team, which writes letters to politicians and other authorities in the city on what they would like to change and how. (They are currently fighting to have the city put the paper recycling program back in place.)

And there's the school team, which does the hands-on stuff at the school, like taking care of the worm bins, repotting plants and keeping the grounds litter free.

Jessica Alainga, an education team member, says she likes "everything" about the club.

Justine Cooperkang is focused on the political aspect of environmental protection.

"I like writing letters to people," said Cooperkang.

Both students are in Grade 6.