Students from Sen Pok Chin school in Oliver celebrate with Staples Penticton manager Joe Aschenmeier after learning they won $25,000 in technology awards in the Staples Superpower Your School contest. Kristi Patton/Penticton Western News Staff

Oliver school wins $25,000 in new technology

Staples Canada, in partnership with Earth Day Canada, awarded $25,000 worth of new technology

The little school that could.

It is how teacher Kim Moffat refers to Oliver’s Sen Pok Chin Elementary School that just won $25,000 worth of new technology in the Superpower Your School Contest that rewards students for raising environmental consciousness.

Grades 5 to 8 students were learning about how their actions effect the earth and the teachers took it one step further getting them to go through the school’s trash to see just how much recyclable or compostable material was being sent to the landfill.

“At first the students were saying ‘I can’t believe you are making us do this.’ But as they started they were shocked. They got fired up and wanted to make a difference,” said Moffat.

The environmental studies continued for six weeks after they picked through the garbage bags. The classes explored ways to preserve food with the least amount of packaging, using garbage to create energy, visited the landfill and set up a recycling program presenting it to the entire school.

“Even today someone threw out a plastic cup into the garbage and someone went and picked it out and said ‘hey you need to put that in the recycling,’” said Moffat.

Principal Val Allen had passed along an email she received related to fostering environmental consciousness where schools could win $25,000 in technology awards from Staples Canada. In January, Moffat sent it in because the students were being so proactive in recycling and with other green initiatives. A month ago Allen found out they won and this week she shared the news with Moffat.

“She pulled me out of the class and said I need to talk to about something you have done. I thought, ‘oh God, what I have done?’ I thought I was in trouble,” said Moffat jokingly.

Already a tech savvy school, Moffat said this couldn’t come at a better time as some of their devices are getting older. Moffat already has her eye on microscopes and software upgrades.

“It is so great. They deserve it. They are great kids and I am so excited. They are so pumped up,” said Moffat.

“$25,000 into this school, wow, that is awesome,” said Osoyoos Indian Band Chief Clarence Louie.

We are very proud of this school, the teachers here and especially the students.”

Staples Canada, in partnership with Earth Day Canada, awarded the prize to the students at a special announcement on Friday. Joe Aschenmeier, general manager of the Penticton store, said close to 700 schools across Canada entered the Staples Superpower your School contest for the chance to win one of the $25,000 awards. He said there was a few things that stood out on the Sen Pok Chin application.

“There is three things. First is the salmon fry program, where the primary grades are raising salmon to put in the Okanagan River. The second big thing was a garbage audit they did that really hit home that they could take 90 per cent of what was in the garbage and divert it from going to a landfill. The third thing was a garden and food forest that they grew to the point they even have chickens and are using the eggs to help feed the students in the cafeteria,” said Aschenmeier.

Sen Pok Chin is one of 10 eco-focused schools that will be awarded $25,000 in new technology from Staples Canada. The students and staff received the good news during an assembly on Friday.

“This is my first time handing this out and man was it a lot of fun. I think it is going to have a huge impact here especially with the size of the school it will just have that much more of an impact,” said Aschenmeier.

The Staples Superpower Your School Contest is in its seventh year, the program has recognized 70 environmentally-conscious elementary and secondary schools.

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