The Excelsior initiative runs across Gordonvale State School and Gordonvale State High School campuses and also caters for a student from Aloomba State School. Students and community groups work together to identify environmental issues and develop projects which address these issues. The initiative has harnessed the enthusiasm of nearly 30 students. Year 4 – 6 projects looked at different aspects of environmental sustainability. Year 7 and 8 students devised projects to reduce human impact on O’Leary’s Creek. Years 9 and 10 students developed projects to reduce the school’s impact on the environment. The Excelsior initiative has created a culture of environmental sustainability within the school and local community with an emphasis on long term behavioural change. The impact of the excelsior program will continue to be felt throughout the children’s lives and the paths they follow in the Wet Tropics.
In 2012, Gordonvale State School established a Junior Landcare Group. Sixty four students have registered and been involved in the establishment and identification of an indigenous food garden, building a butterfly garden, mulching, tree identification, reconstruction of a frog pond, growing and harvesting of fruit and vegetables, installation of nest boxes and weed removal. Junior Landcare is a lunch-time elective for students at the school. Working with teachers,Mulgrave Landcare members, community members and parents, these students have demonstrated a high level of commitment to sustainable landcare.
During 2012 Mossman State School undertook a wide variety of environmental activities. Classes from the school participated in Water Watch activities, conducting a health survey of their river confirming that the Mossman community care for their river. Students built a butterfly garden and planted 50 new trees in the school’s front garden. On Clean Up Australia Day they organised a clean up of their local area. For National Tree Planting Day students made up logos and banners around Dr Seus’s The Lorax, presenting this to their community. Students established a vegetable garden in 2011 and have applied for a grant to create a bushtucker garden. Students also set up a compost system and worm farm, participated in Nude Food Day and are currently preparing to establish a recycling program across the school. Students continue to demonstrate their enthusiasm to environmental issues by applying to participate in Wildlife Warriors’ reading challenge to raise awareness of endangered species.
Excelsior students developed and carried out an innovative workshop to educate students from across the country at the International Kids
Teaching Kids Water Conference in Melbourne on 16 October about pest animals in Far North Queensland. The workshop titled ‘FNQ Feral Fighters’ showcased the great environmental initiatives happening in the Far North. Games and drama were used to teach conference
participants how to identify and manage pest animals to stop their spread to other parts of the country. This fun and educational resource will be made available to other schools in the Far North. This creative piece of work has advanced environmental awareness in the Wet Tropics putting it back on the kids to teach other kids - a winning formula.
In 2009, the Excelsior students of Gordonvale State School revegetated O’Leary’s Creek through the school’s O’Leary Creek Restoration Plan. Motivated by the success of this project and the attitudinal and behavioural changes of members of the school and wider community, staff of
the school wrote a play called ‘O’Leary’s Magic. The play is performed by students to highlight the significant environmental and behavioural changes that have occurred at the creek since 2009. The play highlights the enthusiasm, skills and extraordinary talents of our local students and their ability to use drama to educate the whole community.