The campus of St. John’s Academy is fortunate to be located between the forests of Old Baldy Mountain and waters of Shawnigan Lake. Our teachers aim to incorporate environmental learning through inquiry topics, hands-on projects, and interdisciplinary learning.
Our full Environmental Education program encompasses many aspects of our school experience. Below are a few highlights offered throughout the year as we instil the values of environmental stewardship, conservation, and care for the land.
Beginning in September 2022, our ECO Camp (Environmental focus, Community building, Outdoor learning) is a two-day, one-night trip that aims to bring our school community together, strengthen our school culture, develop team working skills, and foster a love of nature.
A main goal of the camp is to strengthen our school connections by including all members of our school, from our facilities team to our office staff, to participate in fun challenges, games, and outdoor activities. All parts of our team are valuable at St. John’s Academy and we want our students to develop appreciation and care for all members of our community.
This year’s ECO Camp will take place across three locations: Camp Pringle in Shawnigan Lake, Camp Thunderbird in Sooke, and Camp Pioneer Pacific on Thetis Island.
The ECOSchools Canada certification program encourages students and staff to develop mindfulness around sustainability and eco-literacy. Through various projects undertaken by students during the year, St. John’s Academy aims to lessen our environmental impact while forming partnerships in our community, learning about climate change, and building our environmental knowledge.
The Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award program is framework that focuses on experiential learning and empowering youth through active pursuits that help them to discover their potential.
With voluntary service, skill development, physical recreation, and a culminating adventurous journey, the Award program encourages participants to be mentally and physically healthy, connect with others, and give back to the community.
Starting in 2021, our first annual Paddle-a-thon was a great success throughout our school community. With the goal of raising funds to manage the invasive Eurasian milfoil weed that is common throughout Shawnigan Lake, our students collected pledges and raised funds to motivate them in their paddling around the bay in front of our school. Over $7000 was raised which was directed to the Shawnigan Basin Society in their efforts to clear the lake of the harmful milfoil.
In June 2023, our goal is to grow even larger. By inviting paddlers from surrounding areas, and seeking sponsorships from the local business community, we are aiming for ‘100 Paddles’ in the lake for an event that combines a physical challenge with raising awareness for the preservation of the Shawnigan Lake watershed health.
For students who seek adventure and are fascinated by the underwater world, starting in Grade 9, the SJA Dive Academy provides an opportunity to earn their PADI Open Water Dive Certification. For younger students, beginning in Grade 6 they can begin following their passion with the PADI Seal Team Program which introduces concepts around SCUBA, snorkelling, free diving, and environmental stewardship.
Our teachers are experts in designing meaningful hands-on learning that is attached to the real world. We are surrounded by a world outside our classrooms that helps students make connections through experiences designed to create passionate learners.
Students participate in regular off-campus trips to reinforce their classroom lessons. By collaborating with local experts, students gain a better understanding of the concepts covered in class. Exploring the abundance of natural ecosystems that surround us on Vancouver Island, students are able to develop their own relationship with the land and a commitment to its preservation.
At St. John’s Academy, we don’t just do Earth Day, we do Earth WEEK! Each April, our classes take one full week to design and implement service projects that promote sustainability, fight climate change, and raise awareness. These projects could include everything from tree planting and invasive species mitigation, to art installations and workshops.
Each October, students across Canada celebrate Take Me Outside Day, a day dedicated raising awareness of learning outdoors by ditching screens for fresh air! St. John’s Academy is surrounded by natural beauty and outdoor learning opportunities and we are excited to join over 400,000 students in the outdoor learning day across our country.
In addition to our participation in the seismic program, we also host a weather station on our campus to help our students learn more about the precise weather reality in our region. It’s an exciting and every real way for students to consider how data from an instrument can also be perceived through their every day lived experience.
As part of our school’s commitment to make learning relevant and connected to real-world applications, we have several methods to monitor our local school environment.
We have partnered with the University of Victoria’s pilot program called SchoolShake which aims to install monitoring devices at Vancouver Island schools that provide real-time data on seismic activity and earthquake detection. These seismometers act as a large community science experiment that help researchers better understand the faults under our island, give students a better understanding of the forces that shape our land, and contributes toward seismic hazard assessment. To see our school’s live seismometer activity click here.
Our school’s live seismometer activity:
Every Wednesday our grade 4/5 class spends the day learning about and appreciating the beautiful nature that surrounds us. Follow along with the students for a day and see what they’re learning.
Every week St. John’s Academy publishes our Spotlight, which is an in-depth behind-the-scenes look at what our students were up to that week. Those newsletters often feature our academics, arts or athletics despartments, but as you can imagine when your school is neslted up against an incredible lake on Vancouver Island many of our stories also feature our outdoor activities and can all be viewed here.
Once in a while we’ll produce a special Spotlight that highlights an event or trip. Check out the camping spotlight by clicking here.