Galway Bay FM Newsroom – St. Augustine’s National School, Clontuskert, Ballinasloe has been named as the winning primary school in the SSE Airtricity and Microsoft Ireland Solar Schools Sustainability Competition.
The Schools Sustainability Project competition is the most recent project that SSE Airtricity and Microsoft Ireland have partnered on as part of their Solar for Schools programme.
Launched in 2020, the renewable energy programme enables schools to power classrooms using energy generated from their own roof, helping them to reduce their carbon footprint, and their energy costs.
As part of the Schools Sustainability competition, schools from Connacht, Munster, and Leinster took part in a three-module course on renewable energy, sustainability, biodiversity, technology and innovation.
Following these modules, project submissions were made demonstrating the efforts of the schools to improve the environment.
The school took first place for its environmental efforts, which saw students install a bug hotel to increase biodiversity, install an environmentally friendly sewage treatment plant, successfully petition to change waste management symbols in Ireland and become the first school in Ireland to receive the Climate Action School of Excellence Award.
At a prize-giving event held at St. Augustine’s National, a sustainability grant of €2,500 from Microsoft Ireland was awarded to the school, with each participating student also receiving a computer Tablet worth €100 from the SSE Airtricity eStore.
Speaking on the day, Kate Murray, Principal Teacher, St. Augustine’s National School Clontuskert said: “The Solar for Schools Education Programme and Sustainability Project Competition have given Clontuskert students and staff the opportunity to become sustainability champions. Through the focused learning opportunities in the program, our community has collectively become climate changemakers and leaders. Using a growth mindset to focus on our own carbon footprint, along with renewable energy and conservation, empowered us to take action and make positive changes.”
Following the prize giving, Fergal Ahern, Head of Business Development, SSE Airtricity said: “SSE Airtricity is proud to be Ireland’s largest provider of 100% green energy. Providing renewable energy solutions is in our DNA and we are delighted to partner with Microsoft Ireland on this educational schools competition that engages primary and post-primary students and gets them thinking about the impact they can make on the environment whilst helping them to develop and implement sustainable options for their schools.
“The students of St Augustine’s National School, Clontuskert have demonstrated great intent and passion for sustainability, showing us first-hand how sustainability and renewable energy can combine to help fight climate change while also benefitting their school and community on a daily basis.”
Richard Ryan, Datacentre Community Development Programme Manager, Microsoft Ireland also addressed the winning students: “Microsoft Ireland was delighted to partner with SSE Airtricity to roll out the Solar for Schools Programme in late 2020. Part of this programme was focused on educating the students about the impact the technology could have on creating a more sustainable future for their schools. With that in mind we were delighted to extend the engagement with the schools through this competition and it’s been inspiring to see the way the teachers and students have embraced and engaged in the process. I’d like to congratulate all the schools who participated in the competition, but particularly acknowledge the integrated approach taken by the winners to involve the wider school community.”
Further details on the Solar for Schools Programme can be found at www.sseairtricity.com/news.