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Elementary students dig into sustainability

sCCS Grade 4-5 class wins BC Hydro contest to plant 400 seedlings at Cheakamus


For 10-year old Filipp Sukhinenko, winning feels pretty good.

He and 30 of his Spring Creek Community School (SCCS) classmates won a BC Hydro Community Champions contest to promote sustainability by proposing they plant one seedling for every 100 pieces of paper they use in their classroom.

"We had to submit an idea for what we would do with $1,000," the Grade 4 student said, as they planted 440 Sitka Spruce and Douglas fir seedlings in Cheakamus on Thursday, June 2.

The students paired off into groups, then came up with several ideas to promote sustainability, such as taking public transit to school, or collecting water from snow, but the seedling idea won after the students all voted on which one could win them the $1,000.

"It was our group that came up with the idea," Sukhinenko said.

He and his classmates spent the morning being coached by Resort Municipality of Whistler (RMOW) staff on how to correctly plant the fragile seedlings, which must be planted on level ground with the root below the earth and completely straight, not "J-rooted."

Wet but eager, the kids spread out to plant a seedling every two metres, dodging bear feces and some of the seedlings they'd already planted.

"Watch out for that one," said student Lyla Hirsh as she directed visitors past tiny little trees that are much shorter than the surrounding grass.

Teacher Delia Murray said the students have learned to embrace sustainability.

"A lot of our learning is hands-on, on the Internet, and it's educating us on using less paper," she said.

The students submitted their idea late last year, and received the $1,000 prize in January. From there, they had to scope out what area could be used with permission from the urban planning department of the RMOW, and the large fields near the top of Cheakamus Lake Road were approved.

"And we walked here — and it's perfect," said Murray.