Grade 7s show off their knowledge of sustainability 

Sustainability has become a key part of the Whistler vocabulary in recent years. First a group of organizations and businesses became known as the earlier adopters of the Natural Step. Then a series of internationally-recognized speakers came to town to discuss the concept of sustainability. And now Whistler is in the midst of developing its own Comprehensive Sustainability Plan.

But for sustainability to truly be part of the local culture it has to be understood and practised by the people of Whistler, in addition to being discussed at the corporate and government level. And it has to be passed on to future generations.

Since last September Terry Dunphy’s Grade 7 class at Myrtle Philip school has been learning about, discussing, debating and, this week, presenting their own positions on sustainability.

Steve Dieter of Gibsons, who teaches the Natural Step at an outdoor school on Keats Island, presented a series of workshops on sustainability to the Grade 7s over the past school year. Mike Purcell, the municipality’s general manager of planning and development services, has also been involved with the class.

On Tuesday evening, 15 Grade 7 students presented their positions on sustainability and related issues in a friendly speech competition at the Spruce Grove fieldhouse. Their understanding of the concept and grasp of issues – both local and global – was very impressive. The poise and character they displayed in their speeches was even more so.

"I had 30 kids who could have been chosen (to make speeches)," Dunphy said. "They are quite a class."

A panel of judges, including acting mayor Marianne Wade, Myrtle Philip PAC president Cathy Jewett and Pique editor Bob Barnett, evaluated the speeches, and after considerable deliberation chose a top three. Melissa Smith was awarded third place, Lucas Baker took second place and Sarah Craveiro was judged top of the class.

John Nadeau of the North Shore Credit Union presented the top three with accounts that included $50, $100 and $200 prizes.

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