There were flautists, tin whistlers, an accordion player, dancers and rappers in the grounds of Portlaw National School on Friday morning last to mark the official renewal of its Green Flag.
By the way, all of these talented individuals were in school uniform and added greatly to the mid-morning spectacle which drew a healthy attendance to the school’s lush frontage.
Throw in a Minister, a Senator, a Councillor, clergy, Gardaí and onlooking parents and it’s difficult to think of a section of the local community that wasn’t involved in the event.
In his appropriately coloured van, even the village’s postman passed by the school seemingly on cue as Minister Martin Cullen raised the flag, with the assistance of the school’s Green Flag committee.
Said the Minister: “I am very much aware of the ethos of this national school in relation to the environment, the wide range of environmental activities which you have undertaken; the scope and depth of your awareness of environmental issues; and how you have been communicating that awareness to others at home and in the community.”
This particular Green Flag was the fifth awarded to the 234-pupil school, which was among the first 20 schools in Ireland to receive this environmental awareness award.
“Your excellent work has been brought to my attention and I applaud each and every one of you for it,” added Minister Cullen.
“Maureen Halley and Brid Cotter (the school’s Green Flag co-ordinators) are to be congratulated for all the hard work that they’ve put into this initiative, which is in such strong evidence here today.”
The Minister also hailed the school’s spirit of entrepreneurship, citing how recycled paper at Portlaw NS is mulched, dried and packed into paper logs which slow burn in many a fireplace around the Tannery Town.
This venture also won the praise of Waterford County Council’s Environment Officer Kevin Moynihan, who commended the school’s linkage of the Green Flag programme into the daily curriculum.
“In the age we find ourselves living in, green issues are paramount and it’s a credit to everyone involved in the programme that we find ourselves here again for the renewal of this flag,” he said.
Former pupil Senator Paudie Coffey echoed the words of his fellow speakers and congratulated those who devoted such time, energy and enthusiasm to the project.
“There is a real community feel to this event,” he said “and it’s great to see so many people pulling together in the same direction”.
Added Senator Coffey: “It’s great to see so many sections of the community here today and it’s a source of great pride to me that this school was among the first in Ireland to be awarded this flag…
“I’m also delighted to see members of the Tidy Towns Committee here today, led by Johnny Crotty, who do such tremendous work for the local community on a voluntary basis…You, the pupils are the leaders of our future and in you we trust.”
Councillor Brendan Coffey congratulated the pupils and staff, and took the opportunity to congratulate Minister Cullen on his return to cabinet.
He also spoke of his and the local community’s pride in brother Paudie occupying a Senate seat, the first Oireachtas member to hail from the banks of the Clodagh.
Cllr Coffey hoped that the outgoing sixth class pupils would put their environmental awareness to good use in second level education and beyond.
“Keep up the good work, and I look forward to seeing more Green Flags flying proudly here for years to come,” he added.
Minister Cullen saluted the eco-aware pupils of Portlaw NS who, in his words, “have done such a positive job for the entire community”.