Cork Education and Training Board’s (CETB) St. Colman’s Community College Midleton has been named Clean Coast’s Ocean Hero School of the Year for an incredible fourth year running.
This is an unprecedented feat in the history of this competition. Despite encountering stiff competition from thousands of other Irish schools, the Midleton youngsters were recognised as clear winners. The prestigious Ocean Hero Awards ceremony was held at the Clayton Hotel Cork City where these students got their hands on the coveted trophy.
The school and its mentor, Mr. Proinsias Ó Tuama, were singled out for their tireless work in protecting and conserving 11 of their local beaches in East Cork by removing tonnes of marine litter from the beaches, and for inspiring others to follow in their green footsteps. Students worked with Clean Coasts Ballynamona, helping to maintain the Blue Flag and Green Coast award status that has been awarded to beaches there. This year the students of St.Colman’s also took on the role of mentor to Coláiste an Chroí Naofa, Carraig na bhFear, bringing 80 of their students and teachers out beach cleaning with them raising further awareness.
Speaking with pride in relation to this incredible award win Ms. Karen Casey, Principal of St. Colman’s Community College commented, “We are delighted with our recent success in this year’s Clean Coasts Ocean Hero Awards. Our students are committed to creating a cleaner, more sustainable coastal environment and were thrilled to be recognised for the work they do. The students of St Colman’s Community College actively clean more than ten beaches and were, this year, pleased to mentor Transition Year students from another Cork school and pass on their experience and advice. The ‘Clean Coasts’ programme is an outstanding initiative and provides our students with a unique opportunity to engage with the concept of environmental responsibility.”
This award really is a testament to the hard-work and dedication for the student population, who have been able to see first-hand the positive impact they have made. Kevin Adenopu commented, “I never realised how much difference one school could make on our beaches – it highlights what we are capable of with enough determination”, while Jake Shaw communicated his disappointment at those who do not look after our beautiful coast “How people can be so careless with their rubbish appals me.”
The students under the guidance of their teacher Mr. Proinsias Ó Tuama have removed hundreds of tyres and bags of rubbish over the last three and a half years with the participation of over five hundred students. “This is the equivalent of one person working from 9-5 with no breaks or holidays for more than a year and a half or the same as €60,000 in labour given over to protecting our coastline” commented Mr. Ó Tuama.
“The Ocean Hero Awards are all about celebrating coastal custodians and inspiring others to join the movement for litter-free seas. St. Colman’s students are wonderful Clean Coast Ambassadors and will no doubt inspire more schools to get involved in the movement. It is so important to educate our young people about the importance of protecting the local environment” Mr. O’Tuama continued.
CETB’s St.Colman’s Community College are also engaged in a continual Think Before You Flush program which aims to reduce sewage-related litter and highlights the problem sanitary products and other items can cause in our marine environment and wastewater systems if they are flushed down the toilet instead of being disposed of in the correct manner. Every toilet door in the school has a ‘Think Before You Flush’ sign and the program is now being rolled out to include the families of students.
Sinéad McCoy, Coastal Communities Manager with the Environmental Education Unit, An Taisce, commended the school on their amazing achievement, “St Colmans Community College students and teachers have made incredible efforts to protect the local coastline. Their work has expanded beyond the school gates to inspire the local community and create real change in the social society and wider community. Clean Coasts were delighted to be able to award them their fourth Ocean Hero Award for the exemplary work carried out by the school in 2018.”
For live updates on the fantastic marine protecting and conserving work of the students of St. Colman’s follow them on Twitter.