Charles C. McLean recognized for environmental initiatives with Canada-wide contest award

    Charles C. McLean Public School in Gore Bay has won $25,000 in new technology from Staples Canada as part of the “Superpower Your School” contest. In photo, students, staff and dignitaries gather to mark the special event.

    $25,000 award from Staples Canada

    GORE BAY—With its many environmental initiatives Charles C. McLean Public School was formally recognized as a winner in the Staples Canada “Superpower Your School” contest this past Monday.

    “Congratulations on a fabulous effort by your school, teachers, staff and students, and the community,”  stated Ron Garlinski, general manager of Staples Canada Inc. at a special assembly held this past Monday at the school. C.C. McLean is one of 10 (elementary and secondary schools in Canada) to be chosen and the only elementary school in Ontario to win the contest, which comes with a prize of $25,000 to go towards new technology equipment at the school.

    Mr. Garlinski noted that, “after I read your (C.C. McLean) application three things stood out. One being the entire school participates in some measure, such as the microhatchery, gardening, greening, composting and everyone is involved in recycling. There is a real partnership in the school. Secondly, your community partnerships with groups like the Gore Bay Fish and Game Club (GBFGC) in the microhatchery program stand out. And your technology list where it was outlined what tech equipment you need and would use it for, such as website and YouTube site capabilities to provide information on the progress of the salmon you are raising in your microhatchery.”

    “Good morning and welcome to everyone; staff, students, and community members to this exciting and special ceremony,” stated Tracey Chapman, principal of C.C. McLean. She introduced the special guests on hand for the event including Mr. Garlinski, Algoma-Manitoulin MPP Michael Mantha, Ian Anderson and Ches Witty of the GBFGC, Gore Bay Mayor Ron Lane, Kathy Wachnuk, superintendent of schools with the Rainbow District School Board, school council chair Tina Tolsma and Billings Mayor Austin Hunt. “I would like to congratulate our school teachers-staff and students for all your hard work, and environmental efforts,” said Ms. Chapman. “It is wonderful to receive this kind of recognition. Of course we also need to thank all the community members and partners who often assist or provide support in environmental efforts here, such as the (GBFGC). You are all helping to help the students become environmental stewards. We have the most amazing team at this school and in this community.”

    “What you have accomplished here at the school will be heard across the province for a long time, you will be a leader for other schools to do the same,” stated Mr. Mantha. “You are making a difference as environmental stewards, having become leaders in the environment. What you do in Gore Bay helps Manitoulin and in turn helps Ontario and Canada. I am so happy and honoured to be here. Congratulations.”

    Gore Bay Mayor Ron Lane said, “Western Manitoulin has a lot to be proud of, and at the top of the list is C.C. McLean Public School. This is a special school, as are its people. This school has a long history of community involvement and participation.”

    Charles C. McLean compost captains Katelyn Shank, Daphne Carr, Alexis McVey, Willow Fogal, Ezra Diebolt, Jennifer Leblanc-Hudson, Hailey Hawke, Eve Labelle-Oliver went from class to class in the school to deliver refillable water bottles to students this past Monday. Also on hand was Ron Garlinski, general manager of Staples Canada Inc.

    Mayor Lane is a past student of the school, having attended Grade nine in the school 50 years ago when at that time it was a high school. “A year before Charles C. McLean was my Grade 8 teacher. He was a great guy and a great teacher.”

    “In this day and age, nothing is more important than the environment,” stated Mayor Lane. “Without good water and air there would not be any good food. It is important that all of you are now leaders in environment with your efforts. On behalf of council and the community and all of Western Manitoulin, thank you for doing what you do every day, and congratulations on a great job.”

    “On behalf of the membership of the (GBFGC) I would like to congratulate Heather Jefkins, her Grade 4/5 class and C.C. McLean school on this prestigious award and recognition today,” said Ian Anderson. “Two years ago Jim Sloss approached Heather with the idea of running a microhatchery in this school. Both Jim and Heather anticipated the benefits in the lessons to be taught and learned by the students concerning conservation, the life cycle of fish, habitat preservation and the importance of giving back to our natural resources.”

    “Heather and her students have demonstrated beyond a doubt their enthusiasm for this very worthwhile education experience. In the final analysis everyone wins. Thank you,” said Mr. Anderson.

    Ms. Jefkins told the packed gym that when Ms. Chapman came to her late last November about possibly making a submission to the Superpower Your School contest. “I knew our focal point would be our microhatchery. I knew other environmental programs were also established. But it wasn’t until I talked to all the other teachers that I realized how many environmental initiatives we had going on. How cool is it that our school is involved in many different projects.”

    The entire school community is involved, and the teachers and students have had the support of the school administration on its efforts for the past five years, along with support of the town and the community, said Ms. Jefkins. “It just proves you don’t have to be a big school, or have a large staff complement, all you need is people that say yes we can do that.”

    “I’m very proud of my kids and all the things our students and staff are doing here to benefit the environment. And I think we are making a difference,” said

    Ms. Jefkins.

    Grade 4/5 students Blaec Quinlan and Corbin Best then made a presentation on the microhatchery, all its components and what the class members have to do and how much they learn from this program. Ms. Chapman then introduced C.C. McLean’s compost captains, Grade 4/5 students Katelyn Shank, Daphne Carr, Alexis McVey, and Grade 3/4 students Willow Fogal, Ezra Diebolt, Jennifer Leblanc-Hudson, Hailey Hawke and Eve Labelle-Oliver. The students have refillable water bottles that were given out to all the students, provided by the Sudbury District Health Unit. “I wish the students good use of the bottles with our water filling station in the school.”

    With the $25,000 cash prize award, C.C. McLean will be able to purchase an under water camera to livestream its microhatchery; an iPad tripod for video productions; 25 iPads to document photos/videos, create presentations for YouTube, and use Facetime to work with experts in fish hatchery programs; and 25 Chromebooks for website design, social media and blogging.

    Ms. Wachnuk told the Recorder, “I think it’s a wonderful thing that C.C. McLean was chosen as one of the 10 schools across the country for these awards. Obviously the kids and staff at the school work very hard make our planet a better place.”