“Up Ballyduff” sounded a young male voice among the throng gathered in the front yard of Ballyduff National School on Friday afternoon last. And to think there was neither a hurley nor football in sight at the time. 
That the voice was greeting the hoisting of the School’s Green Flag says much for the gusto, verve and enthusiasm which pupils, parents and staff have brought to the project since work began back in September 2006.
Waterford County Council Environment Officer Kevin Moynihan congratulated all involved in their efforts, which culminated in the hoisting of the flag by pupils Daniel Bollard and John Kennedy.
“That you have been awarded this Green Flag while you were effectively working on a building site for so long and that we’re gathered here today with not a spot of rubbish to be seen here is a great achievement,” said Mr Moynihan.
Last Friday’s ceremony also provided parents with an opportunity to see the school’s recently completed extension for the first time.
Work on a second extension to the rear of the school is imminent and the ‘buzz’ around Ballyduff NS at the end of last week was most certainly two-fold.  
“There’s been great initiative and effort demonstrated here over the course of the project, which I’ve noted over the course of my visits here and it has led to the school looking as good as it does today,” added Kevin Moynihan.
Several colourful art displays illuminated the school’s new hall, where most of the ceremony’s formal elements were performed.
This involved brief presentations by the School’s Green Committee, composed of 10 pupils, two teachers and two parents, who met every Thursday during the school year.
On the day, pupils also planted seeds and flowers, tidied up the parts of the school grounds that required clearing (you’d have had a good job spotting such parts) and placed new bird feeders on trees around the school.
Healthy refreshments were also provided to pupils and parents as part of the school’s healthy eating programme.       
Principal Fionnuala Power thanked the contributions of all who made last Friday’s ceremony policy, including teacher Mary Brennan, who co-ordinated the school’s Green Flag project.
Added Kevin Moynihan: “If the pupils can take home one or two points from the green plan and introduce them into their home environment, the project has truly succeeded on more than one level.
“It was great to see everyone here so enthusiastic about the project and it makes my job so much easier.
“I would like to congratulate the school today and their achievement in receiving this Green Flag. It takes a large team effort to get the flag and today marks the end result of considerable work during which a lot of initiatives were put in place.
“Congratulations, well done and keep up the good work.”
With the hoisted flag billowing in a manner to please the attending photographers, fruit snacks followed thereafter – with the leftovers appropriately composed of course!
The Green Flag project’s website contains a Chinese proverb which reads: “If we do not change direction, we are likely to end up where we are headed.”
Ballyduff NS’s industrious pupils, who have steered their village’s future firmly towards greener pastures, have certainly adhered to those wise words. After all, they’ve got the Green Flag to prove it.