St Francis Xavier wins sustainability award

St Francis Xavier School, Runaway Bay
A happy bunch of students from St Francis Xavier School with their sustainability trophy​
​​TAKING a wholistic approach to achieving a greener, cleaner school has earned St Francis Xavier School, Runaway Bay, a prestigious sustainability award plus $1000.

The school's “2020 Vision for a cleaner and greener school" presentation took out the primary school category at this year's Gold Coast School Sustainability Awards.

In addition to a trophy and the $1,000 cash prize, St Francis Xavier School was also offered a space at the Gold Coast's 2020 Sustainable Symposium.

An initiative of Sustainable Schools Network and Gecko Environment Council, the School Sustainability Awards were initiated to encourage students to take a closer look at sustainability and, specifically, sustainability at their school.

The intention was to support schools to become more sustainable and to learn in action-orientated and authentic ways.

St Francis Xavier students from Years 3 to 6 attended the finals at Broadbeach where they presented their 2020 Vision to judges, environmental organisations and other primary and secondary schools. 

In presenting the award, judges said the school's “2020 Vision" encompassed many elements that would achieve a greener and cleaner environment over the next 12 months.  

The school produced a short video ( for the awards submission that outlined the activities which have been successful in meeting the school's environmental objectives, but also identified areas they wanted to improve.

Some of the school's successes to-date included setting up a Year 6 Sustainability Committee which helped plan environmental initiatives that included; recycling of all scrap paper and cardboard in each classroom; banning straws as well as poppers at the tuckshop; banning glow sticks and balloons at big events (such as discos and fetes); munch and crunch package-free, healthy morning teas in Prep while early years students were assigned the role of fan and light monitors.

Year 6 student Jack Stewart said he felt really proud his school had received such a prestigious award. 

“I've been finding out about the amazing things people are doing to help the environment and it's made me realise that, even as a kid, I can be a change maker too." 

The 11-year-old said he was looking forward to next semester when he would lead the Year 6 Sustainability Committee and help turn the plan into action.  

Year 3 student Lincoln Malloy said he too was looking forward to the plan being put into action.

“I think the more you do to help the environment, the more you feel like a better person," he said.

“I have been picking up rubbish around where I live and I'm making sure there's no rubbish on the ground at school." 

The school's 2020 Vision included a robust recycling program for cans and bottles with two yellow wheelie bins already installed in the school and 348 containers collected in the first pick up. 

Every container collected will raise 10 cents through the Container Refund Scheme and will go into a special environment fund for the school.

They also planned to reduce the amount of waste at school, through education and promotion of healthy NUDE lunches, which aimed to eliminate the need for playground rubbish bins.

With help from Brisbane Catholic Education, SMART metres will be installed to monitor the energy used to runs fans, lights and computers, allowing the school to set targets and reduce energy use.

There were also plans for a sustainability garden which focussed on teaching students about the food cycle, water collection, native plants and also provide partnerships with members of the parish.

To drive environmental programs, the school will expand the Year 6 Sustainability Committee to include younger students, as well as parents, and network with environmental organisations and other schools to exchange ideas and work together to achieve successful programs towards the common goal of a sustainable future.

The awards program, organised by Gecko Environment Council and the Sustainable Schools Network, followed a successful Sustainability Symposium in early May which was attended by more than 400 students from across the Gold Coast. ​

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