One of Laois' most successful Green Flag schools is Derrylamogue NS, where pupils are now working to win their 5th Green Flag.
So far the country school near Rosenallis has achieved and retained the environmental awards for litter, energy, water and travel, with work now underway for a Biodiversity flag.
Emer Doyle, who teaches 1st and 2nd class, is the Greenschools co-ordinator.
“The children are enjoying this one in particular, because there is so much nature involved, like field trips to Glenbarrow,” she said.
They are creating a 'Spring 2016 Green Wave' taking time lapse photographs of areas where wild primroses, snowdrops, swallows and frogspawn are all appearing.
The pupils have already built a bug hotel with local zoologist Ricky Whelan, gone on field trips with artist Tom Joyce, and built bird boxes on the school grounds, as well as finding ways to reduce and reuse their waste, and cut energy and water usage.
“Tthe Green Schools initiative plays a big part in school life, and in making the children more aware of the environment. We have to work every year to retain all of the flags. Each class has a co-ordinator making up a committee which meets regularly,” Ms Doyle said.
Winning their travel flag proved a little tricky, as many students do not live within walking distance she said.
“Instead we introduced carpooling, and set out a 1km walkway around the school, while teaching the children about road safety. We got great support from parents,” Ms Doyle said.
The school has made permanent savings she said,
“It is more efficient to run since the beginning, when we built composters. We want environmental thinking to become automatic to the children,” the teacher said.
There are now 81 schools in Laois taking part in An Taisce's programme, including primary, secondary, further education centres and special needs schools.
Six more joined this year, while one school has won all seven flags, and is working on the Green Homes theme, improving conservation in pupil's homes.
Annmarie Kelly is Laois County Council environmental officer.
“We encourage every school to get involved, there are only a handful that haven’t yet started. We acknowledge the support provided by the teaching and non teaching staff, all in a voluntary capacity. I am delighted that Laois can stand proudly amongst its peers when it comes to Green Flag Awards. There are so many benefits, from environmental to building students' confidence, it really is a win-win for all involved,” she said.