Fort George Primary and Infant School has been declared the winning school of the 2016-2017 LASCO Releaf Environmental Awareness Program (REAP) competition. The announcement was made during the annual awards ceremony on Wednesday, June 7 in the Talk of the Town Suite at the Jamaica Pegasus.
The St Ann based school, which entered the competition for the first time last year, was awarded 10 computers and a round trip for two to the United States and Canada for teachers. Runner ups Bath Primary and Junior High from St Thomas and New Forest Primary and Junior High School out of Manchester, won a smart television with DVD player and a projector with screen, respectively.
The top three schools also copped awards for sectional prizes. Fort George Primary and Infant School won the award for the Most Trees Planted and received a $100,000 cash prize courtesy of associate sponsor JMMB. The school planted 1,795 trees, the most planted by any one school in the competition’s five year history. The trees were planted on the school compound and in adjoining communities. New Forest Primary and Junior High received a $50,000 cash prize and water tank from Walkers Wood and Rototech for the Best Garden. The school sold $400,000 worth of crop over the period which was used to purchase solar panels to aid the school’s library. Meanwhile, Bath Primary and Junior High School was awarded the Second Best Garden, winning a water tank from the LASCO REAP Competition for the school.
Stephen Newland, Founder and Project Director of LASCO REAP believes the growth of the competition is synonymous with the increase in awareness around the issue of saving and preserving the environment.
“We started the LASCO REAP Competition in 2012 with 50 schools. We are pleased that this number has grown to 124 participating schools for the 2016-2017 leg of the competition. This means that more schools are seeing the importance of saving and preserving the environment and that they can reap rewards.”
The Rootz Underground lead singer and environmental activist has plans to expand the program.
“The REAP Program has focused on prep and primary students over the last five years. We intend to expand the reach of the program by including churches and high schools in the coming years, because the impact of human waste on the planet is so far reaching,” explains Newland.
The theme for the 2016-2017 LASCO REAP Competition “Together We Grow” was adhered to by the 124 participating schools. 3704 trees were planted over the course of the year, totalling 15,365 trees planted across Jamaica in LASCO REAP’s brief span.
713,313 bottles, the equivalent to 21,615 pounds or 10.8 metric tonnes were collected last year. Catherine Hall Primary from St James showed its determination by collecting 153,915 plastic bottles of the total amount for recycling. The school was awarded $100,000 by LASCO iCool. To date, more than two million plastic bottles have been collected and recycled through the initiative.
The LASCO REAP Competition also awarded Bath Primary and Junior High for Best Essay; last year’s winner Howard Cooke Primary for Best Poem; St Jago Cathedral Preparatory for Best Song/Dub and Discovery Bay All Age for Art/ Fashion from Garbage.