Recycling leadership earns students State award

A Year 7 support unit class has shown the power of collaboration after winning a NSW environment award.

10 June 2021
A group of students and one teacher standing near red recycling bins.
Image: Past and present students who have been a part of the recycling program, from left: Aurora Price, School Learning Support Officer Venessa Houley, Alex Park, Tabitha Ward, Will Turner, Randall Rumbel and Chloe Snape.

A support unit class at Coonabarabran High School has been awarded the prestigious title of NSW Young Environmental Citizens of the Year.

The award was announced by NSW Environment Minister Matt Kean on the weekend to coincide with World Environment Day.

The Coonabarabran High School D7 Support Unit Class’ was acknowledged for its environmental leadership in developing eco-sustainability programs and its significant contributions to the school’s Return and Earn program.

It is the second award the students have received this year after they were honoured during the Warrumbungle Shire Council Australia Day ceremony with the Young Environmental Citizen of the Year Award.

Mr Kean said the students at Coonabarabran High were “making a real difference in their local communities and setting an important example for others to follow”.

“The youngsters are an inspiration to all schools around the state,” Mr Kean said.

Head teacher, Support Unit Sharon Rankmore said the students had been recognised at the school's assembly this week to mark their achievements.

“We are so proud our students,” she said. “Their leadership has been a true positive in our school.

“This award is a significant achievement for the class because it reinforces to them their potential and the power of collaborative action.”

Mrs Rankmore said the recycling program started when the Coonabarabran High School Support Unit was first opened in 2005.

It involved students entering classrooms to collect the recycling boxes and transferring the contents to the collection centre.

The program was expanded in 2019 across the three support unit classes when eco-sustainability units were integrated into the Support Unit’s Science program with the help of a grant that led to the establishment of a learning garden.

Mrs Rankmore said they would use the award winnings to “grow’ the recycling program to include composting food scraps from recess and lunch.

This would be used in the food gardens the students maintained for their food technology classes.

“It's gratifying to know that a small group of students with disabilities in a small, rural NSW town are recognised for contributing to the health of the planet,” Mrs Rankmore said.

“This award will highlight the great learning that occurs in NSW public schools and in particular how we strive to ensure that our environments are inclusive of all students.

“For our community this recognition will certainly enhance the self-esteem of all involved - students, staff, and their families.”​

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