Aitken College is fortunate to be located on 42 acres of undulating former farmland, with Brodie’s Creek running through the property. On any typical day, students may be participating in a range of exciting learning activities; some may be rostered on to empty the large number of recycling bins, primary students may be harvesting vegetables to use in the Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden Program and Year 10 students can be seen on the hillside practising their skills in agriculture and horticulture. The goats (Trudy and Sally), the pigs (Bacon and Eggs) and the chickens need feeding and, after school, parents purchase fresh Aitken vegetables and eggs from the market stall.
Since its establishment in 1999, Aitken has maintained an ongoing focus on environmental initiatives. Rain water is harvested to supply all drinking needs, bore water is pumped by two windmills to fulfil other water requirements, all sewage is treated on site, native gardens and wetlands enhance biodiversity and extensive solar panels add to the electricity supply.
Several years ago, Aitken received a number of awards in the Resource Smart Australian Sustainable Schools Initiative (AuSSi Vic), including Resource Smart School of the Year. Head of Environmental Programs, Cristy Herron, says, “Just as Aitken College paved the way for Victorian Schools in establishing sustainable practices, we also led the pack in tackling the daunting 5-star certification process, becoming one of the first schools to receive its 5-star award. Environment Monitors have been appointed in all Year 1 to 9 classes; they work hard to educate their classmates about recycling programs as well as ways to save energy.”
The garden and farming programs are very popular. Students propagate seedlings, plant vegetables and look after indigenous grasses and trees. The Friends of the Farm Group ensures that the animals are fed and watered. Sarah Dennis, Coordinator of Agriculture Programs, was a recent finalist for the Resource Smart Teacher of the Year Award and was also instrumental in Aitken College receiving a Regional Award and being State Award Winner in the 2014 Victorian Schools Garden Awards. “The tasty vegetables sold at the market stall display the students’ hard work and pride in the vegetables and herbs they grow from seed, all the way to something we can eat,” said Sarah.
The annual Environment Week in August has a full program of exciting activities which have included: the Future Spark Bike Power trailer, pedal-powered smoothies, farm tours, primary school water bug investigations and the Aitken Environment Conference to which local schools are invited to participate in a day of sustainability focussed activities. “We believe that hands-on experiences are the best way to relate to and educate about the natural environment – the kids love it! We feel fortunate to be part of a school that cares so much for the environment,” said Cristy Herron.
Aitken College was established in 1999 and has rapidly grown into an established and prominent low-fee independent school in the […]