St Colman’s Community College Midleton is the An Taisce Ocean Hero School of the Year for an unprecedented fourth year in a row. The Midleton school beat off St. Michael’s College in Dublin 4 and Newpark Comprehensive in Blackrock, Co. Dublin with their Love Your Beach campaign. They were also lauded for their ongoing #ThinkBeforeYouFlush campaign dealing with sewage related litter, and for mentoring students in another Cork Secondary School.
Proinsias Ó Tuama and students from St Colman’s collected the Ocean Hero School of the Year Award 2018 in Dublin recently. The Awards recognises the invaluable work being done by Clean Coasts volunteers to protect Ireland’s beautiful coastline Projects including cleaning Ballynamona Beach near Ballycotton helped see off 3,700 other Irish schools and landed the Midleton Secondary school with the title School of the Year.
Mr Ó Tuama, who led the team of students, said their participation in the Award has sown the seeds of a real sense of responsibility for the future, one which the teenagers can bring with them into adulthood and challenging the students to keep the environment in which they live healthier and cleaner, promoting social responsibility. “The students removed hundreds of tyres and bags of rubbish over the last three and a half years, with the participation of over 500 students. “This is the equivalent of one person working from 9-5 with no breaks or holidays for more than a year and a half, or the same as €60,000 in labour given over to protecting our coastline”
The Secondary School students said they were shocked to see the type of litter that washes up on our shores. “As a student from St. Colman’s, I can’t explain how passionate and committed I am about keeping beautiful the coastline that is local to me in East Cork” said John Manning.
“How people can be so careless with their rubbish appals me” said Jake Shaw.
“I couldn’t believe how much rubbish we picked up” said Josh Coakley
“I was delighted to give back and do something good for the environment” said Ben Napier
“I never realised how much difference one school could make on our beaches – it highlights what we are capable of with enough determination” said Kevin Adenopu.
“I’d never seen so many bags in my life; it’s like a new beach” said Conor McCarthy.
“I am proud to be a student in this school. It’s an amazing milestone to do the 4 in-a-row!” said Kevin Ebarmamigieor.
Each School submitted a portfolio of their work before the winner was selected.
Sinead McCoy, Coastal Communities Manager with An Taisce’s Environmental Education Unit said “St Colmans Community College students and teachers have made incredible efforts to protect the local coastline. There work has expanded beyond the school gates to inspire the local community and create real change in the social society and wider community. Clean Coasts were delighted to be able to award them their fourth Ocean Hero Award for the exemplary work carried out by the school in 2018. “
The School said they were “delighted” with the win. In 2017 over 500,000 pieces of litter were picked from the Irish Coast by groups like that of St Colman’s College. The Ocean Hero Awards are about celebrating these Coastal custodians, while inspiring others to join the movement for litter free seas.