Deep Creek Middle School in Eleuthera was the first school to receive Green Flag Certification in The Bahamas and in the Caribbean, and now Forest Heights Academy has joined the ranks.
On Feb. 7, a Green Flag Assessment Team visited Forest Heights Academy and was given a tour by Colby Cross, president, and Rebecca Strachan, vice president, of the school’s Eco Club. The team also visited several classrooms to see firsthand how conservation and eco-friendly standards have been implemented at the school.
Green Flag Certification is an international recognition, which is awarded to eco-friendly schools committed to environmental education and performance. As a registered Eco-School, Forest Heights focuses on areas related to energy, waste, biodiversity, and school grounds.
By the end of February, Forest Heights Principal James Richard received word that Forest Heights Academy’s application for the Green Flag Award was successful. They received a formal letter and a presentation ceremony is set for a later date.
In the letter, Musgrove said: “Forest Heights Academy should be proud to be the first high school in the country to be awarded this internationally recognized Eco-Certification for schools. As only the third Bahamian school to receive this award you are among our programme pioneers and serve as an example for other schools to emulate.”
Upon hearing of the school’s certification, Rebecca said it was very exciting news to her, and it makes her feel proud to achieve such a great accomplishment because they have been “so green,” and that they are an Eco-Friendly School.
Colby was also proud of himself and the entire Eco Club. He said that they have made history, and that it helps to make them more well-known in The Bahamas.
“It is a great achievement for a school, and it helps to set an example for others schools on Abaco and in The Bahamas,” he said.
Musgrove further commended the school on engaging in Green activities like turning off lights when a room is not in use, servicing water fountains to encourage students to fill water bottles, recycling cans through CansForKids, recycling glass and paper, and composting for their school garden.
“Forest Heights Academy is in the process of partnering with a company to recycle Grades 1 and 2 plastics in their school community!” Musgrove enthusiastically added.
The students are also committed to eliminating Styrofoam in their cafeteria, using natural wood signs to identify native plants, and effectively engaging eco-committee members and non-members in the program.
However, Colby and Rebecca will both graduate in June. Nevertheless, the students said they will leave their Eco Club folder behind, so that remaining students can begin their record keeping and make sure data is recorded properly. Rebecca said that once the students continue doing what they have done and adhere to the Assessment Team’s recommendations, they will do well.
Colby added that although there are sure to be challenges with teamwork anything is possible.
Forest Heights Academy will receive an Eco-Schools certificate and the Green Flag. Their first Green Flag Award is valid for two years (June 30, 2015), so in order to renew their certification they will need to maintain their current efforts, follow up on the Assessment Team’s recommendations with regard to record keeping and community awareness, and add new topics or goals.
Colby and Rebecca agreed that it would be good for schools like theirs who have gained certification to actually visit other schools to encourage them to become an Eco School. The students also had recommendations of their own for the Assessment Team. They suggested that the team provide a list of requirements that they are looking for beforehand because there were not many examples to follow, and to make the paperwork less tedious to fill out.
The members of the Green Flag assessment team included: Janel Campbell, Lead Assessor, Ministry of Tourism; Eustacia Jennings, Environmental Officer from the Bahamas Electricity Corporation (BEC); Kaderin Mills, Bahamas National Trust; Olivia Patterson, Friends of the Environment; and Juliette Deal, Out Island Eco. Marcia Musgrove, Bahamas Reef Environment Educational Foundation (BREEF) Outreach Manager and National Eco-Schools Coordinator along with Deanna Stecker from Man-O-War Primary School, were observers.
Hope Town School was also awarded the Green Flag last year. They were the first government school in The Bahamas to receive the award.