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Flying the Green Flag in Galway
by Máirín Uí Choileáin. Coláiste Cholmcille, Indreabhán, Co. na Gaillimhe

The chosen topic for our 3A CSPE project was attaining the Green Flag for our school, lots of hard work but very rewarding with on-going benefits for the school and the environment. The Green Flag programme is run by An Taisce in conjunction with the local authority, so the first step is contacting both and registering for the flag with an Taisce.
The local environmental officer in Galway County Council very helpful and we invited her to the school to outline what the benefits of the project would be and to give us guidelines on how to achieve our goal. This was a little mini project in its own right, having set up the various committees.
The Permission Committee – sought the principal's permission for setting up the project and inviting guest speakers.
The Invitation Committee – wrote a letter of invitation to guest speakers.
The Room Committee – organised rooms for talk
The Welcoming Committee – welcomed speaker – tea in staffroom – introduced her to audience.
The Questions Committee – organised questions beforehand and people to ask them on the day.
The Thank You Committee – organised a card and thank you gift and gave a little speech to the visitors when they left. Following on our meeting with the Environmental Officer we set up a central committee within the class group – it was voluntary and then I asked people to become chairperson, PR officer and secretary from this group based on their interests and talents. An environmental study was conducted over three days, with pupils going out and monitoring the litter before first break and again after second break, and tabulating the results. We issued questionnaires to caretaker, science room, kitchen, staffroom etc. to determine what type of waste was being produced and we made known the findings to the school population on a “Green School's Notice Board.” We then formulated an action plan and decided on the aims for the project.
Realising that far too much was being sent to land fill we decided upon a recycling policy which was aided by the fact that the waste collectors in the area had begun to introduce a recycling programme. We organised new bins for recycling paper, cans, plastic, a green cone for fruit, tea-bags etc. and bird tables(made by TY) for left over lunches. We made a plan of the school which we displayed on the Green Flag Notice Board giving the name of students in charge of different areas in the school. A letter was sent home to parents and to the local newspaper to publicise our project and got an interview on local radio. We spoke to the whole school population as it would not succeed without their co-operation and gradually they came on board.
There was a slogan competition, a literary and an art competition to highlight the Green Flag concept and some students made up signs for the various bins, ones to remind people to conserve energy and water and took the winning slogan as the green school motto and having laminated them, hung them in appropriate places around the school. The litter situation was continuously monitored and students were very vigilant in keeping their assigned areas clean.
Other activities undertaken included a tree planting ceremony for national tree week, a clean-up day where the whole school participated and during which we planted shrubs and flowers. We invited parents in to see the fruits of our labour on open day and had a magazine printed for the occasion. We then applied before March for the Green Flag, answering a fairly detailed set of questions and sending copies of aims, plan of actions, etc. We had our school assessment after that and received our flag in the An Taisce office, Black Lane Dublin 8 at the end of May.
It is a very worthwhile on-going project that fosters the pupil's sense of rights and responsibilities and stewardship while developing their own talents and creative ideas. It is also a great way of engendering school spirit.