Introducing the Toward Real Sustainability Competition

Tuesday, November 30, 2021 - By: Cheryl Murtland

By Cheryl Murtland, Deputy Head—Academics

In early November, I sent an email to all students informing them of a Vancouver Island student competition being hosted by Westmont Montessori School in Victoria. It is the first annual Toward Real Sustainability Competition. This was not connected to a course, nor for marks; rather, an opportunity to engage with one of five major issues facing Vancouver Island—and beyond. I received an email from Kailey V (Hope ‘23) saying, "We are a team of four and have registered for the competition".

The other three team members were Alexandra K (Hope ‘23), Beluchi Okeke (Mack ‘23), and Leah L (Allard ‘23). Out of the five possible major issues: Climate Change, Toxic Opioid Crisis, Old Growth Logging, Affordable Housing, and Living Wage, our Brentwood team chose Climate Change. We spent one full day in a workshop here on campus with a team from Shawnigan Lake School. The flood damage on the highway made it impossible for us to attend in person, although the other 16 teams in the competition gathered together in the Victoria area. The organizers responded by setting up the video capabilities so that the two local teams could still participate.

The timeline for this competition was something I had never seen before. The workshop was on Friday, November 19, where students learned different frameworks that could be used to tackle complex issues, discover the root problems, suggest solutions, and create an action plan. They also heard from experts and learned how to create a compelling video, which was the final product, due on November 30.

To say that Grade 11 students have a lot to handle at Brentwood is an understatement. So around studying for tests, completing assignments, going to classes, and remembering to eat regular meals, these four girls researched their subject, wrote a script, filmed and edited a seven-minute video, and were able to submit by the deadline. Although the team did not emerge as the competition winner, they are to be congratulated for deciding to spend their time looking at a complex issue that needs to be addressed. The event culminated in a gala at UVIC where the judges provided feedback on the video submission and thanked the students for their commitment to making a difference.

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