The St. Agatha school community won $25,000 for new technology because they implemented environmental initiatives like a recycling program, old-battery collection and hosted four Scarborough Green Fairs. Photo courtesy of Mary Walker

St. Agatha gets $25K for ‘outstanding’ green program

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  • April 5, 2015

TORONTO - For years, students at St. Agatha Catholic School have gotten by with “archaic laptop” computers.   But they’ve received a $25,000 surprise that will soon get them plugged into modern technology. 

The surprise came in the form of a credit from Staples Canada, which is rewarding the east-end Toronto school for implementing several “outstanding” environmental initiatives. 

The prize will go towards the purchase of new computers, something sorely needed by the school’s 475 students who currently share 41 “archaic laptops,” as a Staples’ spokesman referred to them.

“Our computers are old and we don’t have a whole lot of them,” admitted school principal Bela Matyas.

“What we’ve been able to do the last few years is spend some money but, due to finances, we’ve ended up buying refurbished computers. They are an improvement but they are not much of an improvement.”

Relying on outdated computer equipment in a 2015 classroom presents challenges for students and teachers.

“Technology is really what it is all about for these guys, so I think it is going to be really helpful for all of them,” Matyas said. “That is where their interests lie and I think you need to capture their interests to help them learn.” 

St. Agatha won the prize due to its “outstanding sustainability efforts and environmental initiatives,” said Leigh Pearson, Staples’ director of environment.

“Over the last eight years, St. Agatha’s Stewards of the Earth Committee has built a positive environmental impact from the contributions of teachers, parents and a 35-student team,” Pearson said.

During that time the school launched a recycling program, held a number of old-battery reclamation drives and hosted four Scarborough Green Fairs, including an event held March 28.

Matyas credits the efforts of teacher Anne Marie McCowan, who launched the environmental initiatives.

“She is very passionate about the environment,” Matyas said. “She’s been here in the community for a long time ... (both as) a parent in the community and a teacher.

“What the school is doing to create (environmental) awareness among the youth of today is what the contest is all about. I think that this school with this teacher has done a lot in that way.”

Pearson also praised McCowan and other teachers across the country who help form environmentally conscious students.

“Teachers that champion these eco-initiatives are very passionate and innovative — to us, they are ecovators — a term recognizing the superheroes who innovate to make a difference in the environment,” she said.

The Toronto Catholic school was one of 10 Canadian schools to be rewarded in Staples’ Annual Superpower Your School Contest. About 600 schools from across the country entered the competition.

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