A year in review: Social Justice and Ecology in the Boarding School
What a tremendous year Loreto Normanhurst has had in regards to our social justice and ecological actions. As a large community within Loreto, the Boarding School has not shied away from making tangible changes too.
At the beginning of Term 4 2017, the Boarder Council (six elected Year 12 Boarders) worked with Boarder Vice Captain Sophie Stanley and myself to devise goals for the coming year. These focused on changing the physical attributes of our boarding house to create a positive and welcoming atmosphere for all. Additionally to this, we aimed for ‘Plastic free commos, lunch and recess’, which we can proudly say we have achieved – more than what was initially anticipated. Working collaboratively with Chartwell’s catering, we were able to eliminate throw away plastic cutlery and plates and replace them with reusable plastic plates and biodegradable cutlery. This required boarders to be conscientious and put in a little bit of extra effort to make a big impact on our environment. Furthermore, we phased out plastic cups and cutlery from our common areas/kitchens and replaced them with reusable cutlery, plates, bowls and cups.
The Boarding School joined the Earth Hour movement in March by turning off lights, devices, fans and electrical appliances in our common rooms. We also encouraged girls to go beyond the hour and reduce electricity consumption by turning off bathroom lights when not in use and turning off power points before leaving for school every day.
During National Reconciliation Week and for the Close the Gap initiative, boarders dressed in the colours of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander flags (yellow/black/red or green/blue/white). We also heard stories and information from Indigenous students at school who proudly voiced their family history and cultural experiences, and along with awareness raising from the Aboriginal Studies students, education on these issues continues at Loreto Normanhurst.
Green Team members Dominica and Elizabeth were inspired by their home town ‘Boomerang Bag’ systems when they initiated our very own Boarding Boomerang Bags. These canvas bags are kept in Boarder Reception for girls to grab before dashing off to shop at Hornsby – this means we are reducing the plastic bags we use from small businesses. Most stores are yet to follow the footsteps of larger grocers and ban the use of plastic bags at their counters. For now, we will do all we can in minimising our plastic use in and out of school.
More recently, Loreto Normanhurst has joined in fundraising for the drought relief. As many boarders are immediately affected by the impacts of the drought, girls felt it extremely important to spread awareness and raise money in and beyond the school community. All Loreto girls were invited to brainstorm ideas on how Loreto Normanhurst could make an impact on such a big issue. The school held a sausage sizzle, staff meat raffle, opened a Buy a Bale donation page and accepted donations at the HSC Showcase Evening. The Boarding School held a ‘Parma for a Farmer’ night to raise money for the drought where girls took the opportunity to get dressed up for the occasion and spread the supportive community spirit.
Overall, there have been some successful initiatives introduced and continued this year in the Boarding School. I would like to thank Dominica Leaver who so ably led the JPIC and Green Team this year and kindly brought many of her brilliant ideas into the Boarding House. I look forward to hearing about more advancements and ideas for the future.