Aberfeldy School is a long-standing member of the Enviroschools programme in the Whanganui district. The school is located about half an hour's drive from the city on the Parapara highway and has students attending from across Whanganui.
It's a small rural school and has had a number of new enrolments this year. Many of the new families are interested in what the Enviroschools programme can offer their children as we see an increasing trend towards the importance of sustainability education around the world.
The Enviroschools programme is intended to foster a generation of people who instinctively think and act sustainably.
"We were due to start on our new outdoor learning environment earlier this year but due to unforeseen circumstances, construction is only just about to get underway this month," says principal Fran Lambert.
The outdoor learning environment was dreamed up and planned by students past and present and will include features such as a labyrinth, sensory gardens, sandpit, pizza oven, bike track, music wall, butterfly mosaics, water features, raised garden beds, a sun dial and a willow tunnel.
Students have been involved throughout the planning precess, however it isthe Ministry of Education which is helping fund and manage the project through to completion.
One of the Enviroschools' guiding principles is "empowered students" and that is evident at Aberfeldy School with the students involved in planning and designing how they want the school to look and feel.
Meanwhile, it is springtime and the students have been busy planting all sorts of vegetable seeds and helping nurture them to grow so they can then plant them out in their gardens. They have planted spinach, beans, strawberries and watermelon.
Although some recent plans at Aberfeldy have taken longer than hoped, the students aren't letting that get in the way of their enthusiasm and creativity.
The school has had plans to build a cob hut for some time now but hasn't had any luck getting the clay required to get this project off the ground.
So now they are looking at the old tyres they have lying around and wondering if these could be used to build an "earthship" — an eco building that makes use of old car tyres, a waste product, as infill for the walls.
The tyres are then rammed with earth and plastered over. Students have been researching how to build an earthship and hope to gather the materials to get started soon.