PENANG'S SMK Air Itam students who participated in the 'Green Project' even formed a cheerleading team to drive the message home to other students about environmental consciousness.
The school beat 15 other secondary schools to win the Chief Minister’s Green Award, a state-level project organised by Fairchild Semiconductor (Malaysia) Sdn Bhd to promote environmental awareness.
The students walked away with a trophy and RM10,000.
Chief Minister Tan Sri Dr Koh Tsu Koon gave away the prizes.
SMK (P) Methodist was the first runner-up, winning the Director-General of Department of Environment Award and RM5,000 while SMK Sungai Ara won the Director of Education Award and RM3,000 for coming in as the second runner-up.
SMJK Phor Tay, SMK (L) Methodist, SMK (P) St George, SMK Sungai Ni- bong and SMK Tinggi Bukit Mertajam won the five consolation prizes of RM1,000 each.
SMK Air Itam’s K. Kalaivani and Nurezzaty Abdul Majid, both 17, in their presentation explained that the project themed ‘Lend A Hand, Keep Clean & Green’, saw the students coming together for activities such as a gotong-royong, Green Week, poetry recital, poster drawing com-petition, essay writing and recycling campaign.
The girls said the recycling efforts involved collecting 11,000kg of newspapers, fluorescent lamps, empty plastic bottles and paper.
They added that old chairs and tables at the school were dismantled and reused as picket fences to decorate the school’s park.
“We never expected to win because it was a very close competition but I think our range of activities carried out in the school gave us the winning edge,'' Nurezzaty said.
She said the whole experience, which began when the students embarked on the ‘Projek Hijau’ a year ago, was educational and meaningful.
Dr Koh in his speech proposed that the Education Department encourage all the secondary and primary school principals to attend similar functions in the future so that they would in- spire their students to start recyc- ling projects in their respective schools.
“It’s very moving to see how much waste can be recycled and reused in schools.
“By having the projects at schools, it will create a multiplier effect in the society as students will go back and tell their parents about the benefits of the 3Rs (reduce, recycle and reuse),'' he said.
He added the present rate of garbage throwing had increased compared to the rate of garbage collection as people have higher purchasing power.
“We find it easier to throw away things especially in the rivers. Maybe we can even open a supermarket by the river considering all sorts of things we can find there,” he said.