The Nature Club of St. Xavier's Collegiate School has always been committed to sensitizing its students on issues relating to environmental degradation. Thus it encourages its members to be pro-active towards sustainable development in their given milieu.
The St. Xavier's Nature Club consists of a dedicated group of students who are not there just to wear a badge, and get an extra tick on their report card. With more than a hundred and sixty members, the Nature Club of St. Xavier's Collegiate School embodies passion for and devotion to Mother Nature and Her creations.
This passion and dedication is manifested when at 1.30 pm, every working school day when volunteers of the Nature Club take up the task of clearing the post-lunch mess left on the field and the quadrangle. They thus teach by example that a clean environment is a communal and individual duty.
Such consciousness itself carried us far beyond books to work for our theme of conserving biodiversity. From campaigns to prevent noise pollution to collection of information and photographs of the environment, the Nature Club has done it all. This year we have also ventured into practicing organic gardening and implementing the techniques for the beautification of the school campus and thus promote the use of eco-friendly products. The Nature Club has installed waste segregation facilities in the school campus. Also a rain water-harvesting unit has been installed in the campus. Numerous street plays and awareness programmes are being enacted at different public places across the city to increase awareness among the common people. Plans are also underway to equipments to make a part of the school building solar powered.
Indeed this attitude of environmental consciousness translates into the world outside. Thus the one thing we can all agree on is that the Nature Club does a fantastic job, teaching us a valuable lesson in the process. And that perhaps is what education is all about.
REPORT ON NATURAL RESOURCE CONSERVATION PRACTICES
Over the last few months, we have taken numerous measures to ensure maximum conservation and sense facilities on campus with regard to mainly two aspects of natural resources- namely solar power.
With regard to rainwater harvesting, numerous harvesting tools have been incorporated into the construction plan for the new building (now in its finishing stages) on campus: The roof of the structure has been built with parallel gulleys which feed the rain water to the pipes at the rear of the building façade, thus acting as the catchment area. These feed the rainwater to an underground tank (40ft/18ft/15ft) which has been incorporated under the building structure. There is a filter consisting of a wire mesh which removes large particles (if any). This water is then used for gardening on the school grounds and other cleaning and sanitary purposes, by pumping it. The roof is sloped as well to facilitate the easy drainage of rain water.
With regard to solar power, there are ten solar panels which have been setup on the roof of the main building. These generate upwards of 2000W of power per year (depending on the weather) and are used to power the computer systems in the school.
We sincerely hope that our humble endeavour will contribute to some changes as far as the over utilization of natural resources.
Representative of Nature
Organic gardening is a form of cultivation that relies on crop rotation, green manure, compost and biological pest control in order to maintain soil fertility and productivity. Our school has tried to practice this type of gardening in a small garden near the hostel by using the organic garbage collected from the complex to make compost pits and also the produced manure in seasonal vegetables like spinach, radish, coriander, tomato etc. as well as to grow some seasonal flowers.
Father Xavier and the Nature Club teachers of the school played a very important role in guiding the members of the nature club throughout the programme. We had started this programme in the month of June after proper planning. We held several board meetings to decide the sight and the working process that would involve the Nature Club members of our school. The hostel garden was selected as the sight because there was less intrusion of students in this area. The garden was not used efficiently before this programme started and so it was the perfect sight to begin with. But unfortunately we had to postpone the programme to 20th of October due to the onset of the rains. We had to allow the soil to dry before restarting the digging which delayed the programme. The Nature Club of the school had bought six dustbins especially for the purpose of collection of highly bio degradable waste from the school, college and hostel kitchens. These dustbins were painted by the members of the club who are in class nine.
The students of class eleven, who are the members of the club, dug six pits in the garden, each four feet in length and breadth and two feet deep. The shovels, spades and other digging instruments were provided by the school. The members worked tirelessly for three days and in two groups in order to complete the digging faster and to prevent overexertion of any member. The mud that was taken out was used for covering the layers of the pits and for the farming plot.
These pits were filled with highly biodegradable materials like vegetable peels, tea leaves and egg shells that were collected from the canteens of the school. The class nine members of the Club were involved in bringing the dustbins from their respective locations and help in filling the pit. The pits were filled systematically by applying a layer of soil at certain intervals and also using cow dung in order to enhance the degradation process. On top of the cow dung, a layer of hay and straw was put. Then a thin layer of soil was applied and water was sprinkled to moisten the waste. One pit was selected only for the leaves, as it was more than four feet deep. These leaves were mostly collected from the garden.
The pits were filled and covered with a thick layer of mud to prevent insects and crows from destroying them and then a layer of cow dung was applied. The compost is supposed to be ready after two to three months after which it will be used as manure for the vegetables and flowers that will be grown.
A five feet wide farming plot was also prepared, which extended throughout the garden. The top layer of grass was carefully taken out and kept aside to be dumped in the pits and the top layer was dug to provide for the plants to be grown. Two compost pits that received sunlight throughout the day were also selected for growing plants after it was filled. Two members of the club accompanied Father Xavier to go and buy the seeds for the plot.
The role of organic gardening whether in cultivation, processing, distribution or consumption is to sustain and enhance the health of the ecosystem and organisms from the smallest in the soil to human beings. Organic gardening combines tradition, innovation and science to benefit the shared environment and promote fair relationships and a good quality of life. St. Xavier's has clearly shown the path to future programmes involving small scale organic gardening in the city.
To The Zoo
21st October, 2009: Seventy seven extremely excited students waiting for their excursion to the Kolkata Zoological Gardens, organized by the Nature Club of St. Xavier's Collegiate School. "Free Zoo Visit Day" was an initiative of the Forest Directorate Wing of the Government of West Bengal.
In this programme various schools were invited by the Government as a part of Wildlife Week-09. This was an educative endeavour so as to raise awareness about wildlife among children of the junior classes, particularly those of 6, 7 and 8. The exuberant students simply couldn't wait to see the" king of jungle" and the various other animals, while learning a few things in the process. Accompanied by four teachers and a few senior boys, the wildlife rendezvous finally began.
The day began hilariously when the students were greeted by a wild chimpanzee by showering the former with some friendly stones. The students there moved on to see a varied number of exotic birds from the slender billed eagle, to various feathered friends native only to the different Asian countries. From there started the desperate attempt to spot the "king of jungle". Although unsuccessful in their attempt, they were more than satisfied to be within a few feet of the white tiger, and our very own tiger native to the Sunderbans. Before we knew it, our time was up and we moved on to watch the educational movie, shown courtesy of the Government of India. This documentary outlined various efforts of organization being put into Tiger Conservation. This educational Polaroid stressed on the "Save the Tiger" campaign. This was a fitting end to an educative outing for our satisfied students.
It is initiatives, such as this, that will help to sow the seeds of animal conservation in the young minds, to whom we bequeath this world.
Nature Club Member Class: 11B
WE ARE A NOISY LOT
For the past four years I have been in the Nature Club. I did have experiences, but the day I remember the most is when we really made a difference. It was when I was in class IX. Fr. Boris was standing there outside his room and waiting for us. We saw the cane in his hand and thought it would be better if we started running. As soon as we reached there he started handing out t-shirts. These were provided to the school by the WBPCB. Then we were instructed on what we had to do.
We were given pamphlets, stickers and other things. Our objective was to spread awareness among the citizens about noise pollution. This nuisance is a growing hazard and most people do not bother about it and think that it is very wise to keep honking till the car driver ahead of them either speeds up or lets them overtake him. We had the Kolkata Police by our sides to help us.
At 8:30am sharp we were at the gates with Father and some other teachers to lend us a hand. Children who come in their private cars were given a pamphlet each and were asked to explain to their drivers that honking near hospitals, schools and government offices was a punishable offence and they should not at all honk near these areas. They were also told that honking should be prohibited as it is hazardous and may lead to many nervous problems. Many of the people driving really seemed to be convinced about our appeals.
We were also given stickers which we politely fixed on the insides of the cars. One of the people driving gave us a very good suggestion that we should stick these stickers on the back mirror of the car. His point of view was that if it was stuck on the backside then every time a person honking at the car in front of him on seeing it would at least think and maybe honk less.
This was our contribution. We the younger generation should always keep it in mind that we are the people who can bring about a change. We are not asking for something exceptional to be done but some contribution at our personal levels. We can simply contribute our bit by stopping our parents, relatives, cousins, drivers and the many others who honk on the streets.
We should remember that it is we who can make a difference, or with the growing levels of pollution we may someday face bigger problems.
Wealth and Ecology Should Reinforce Rather Than Contradict Each Other
Life is a manifestation of more than a billion years of ultra-competitive evolution, cut-throat battles and a relentless struggle for existence. All the widely accepted theories about life say that only the fittest will survive, and all others will perish into oblivion. This struggle can be seen every day in every living form - from the tiny ant to the mighty lion, from the most harmless little weed to the tallest tree in the rainforest. Every living being that we see around us is an example of a survivor; and together, the varied diversity of life lends meaning to the term ecology. Ecology therefore, refers not to a quiet peaceful day in a grassy meadow, but to a battlefield, where wars are fought under every fallen leaf, and thousands lay down their lives in the struggle for survival every minute.
And human beings are no different. They also display the inherent inclination to outdo, hoodwink and move ahead of others in life. Under the garb of civilisation and humanity, humans also fight their own sweet but deadly battles, and an undeniable proof of this is the ultimate weapon, something which has always awed us - money, wealth and power, all of which are interchangeable.
Wealth has always existed and will always exist. Whether it is earned by fair or unfair means, it will always be the ultimate aim of almost every action. Wealth can never contradict something else because of the simple fact that it is the innate goal of every living being - for humans, it is money, and for bees, it is the honey they collect. Therefore, wealth never opposes ecology; it only modifies and reinforces it. Simply put, wealth ensures the survival of the wealthy (not merely the moneyed), and therefore ecology is defined by the wealthy.
Today, tropical rainforests comprise the ecology of the Amazon. Tomorrow, its ecology might comprise glass-panelled high-rise buildings, busy thoroughfares and the occasional park. This may apparently seem grossly unfair to the harmless living creatures that were wiped out to make room for such flamboyant displays of human wealth. However, we have to remember that right from the beginning of time, ecological succession has always uprooted empires and made way for new ones. Maybe the rainforest itself came into existence only after its predecessor had been wiped out.
And in the future, maybe even our great cities will turn to dust to give way for a new definition of ecology. Nothing goes untouched by the laws of Nature, and our activities have already begun to ring our death knell. We can hold heart-warming rallies to protest against how we are destroying the earth, but the truth is that we are destroying ourselves - only ourselves. How can we have the audacity to state that we are killing Mother Earth?
The earth has existed for billions of years and will exist for many more billions of years. It is only us humans who will not survive. Both wealth and the misuse of wealth reinforce ecology. We are but a mere speck in the chequered history of the earth, and the circle of life will again create rainforests on top of our fallen cities.
Special thanks to:
Principal Rev. Fr. J. Francis,
Vice-Principal Rev. Fr. S. James,
Mrs. K. Dutta,
Mrs. T. Pal,
Mrs. A. Mathews,
Mrs. P. Chatterjee,
Mr. R. Francis
EDITING AND DESIGN: Ratul Chatterjee
PHOTOGRAPHY: Harsh Jain, Rajit Dasgupta, Soutrik Dey