Hsin Hsing Elementary School
A Firsthand Chronicle
By Cheng Han-wen, principal of Taitung Hsin Hsing Elementary School
As school buildings remain a form of three-dimensional spatial configurations that project a touch of intricate philosophy and a sense of enduring cultural heritage, the sole purpose of which has not been to create a physical and social environment but rather in the creation of a cognitive and cultural setting.
As ancient tree growths are transformed into a tangible symbol of ancestral blessings, the very existence and endurance of such ancient growths has become an icon that we come to depend on, while tree planting and caring has become a responsibility that you and I share. At which, we have developed a tangible action plan that revolves around water and lush greenery.
I. A gorgeous tangible action plan
1. Keeping all things good within the family
The old latrines by the school entrance were not only old and dilapidated, but the wastewater discharged was dirty and smelly. Yet in a campus revamp exercise, what we have done by estimating the flow of water discharged daily and piping it via a drainage pipe to a pit next to a big tree for gathering the wastewater, topped off with gravel and fertile soil, had made both the big tree and us happy, and the visitors had a knowing smile.
2. Irrigating the plains through water pumping
Right by the school was a smelly trench where the community discharged soiled water and wastewater, in which dynamic water flowed straight through the trench concealed by concrete grilles. Contrasting this was how the creek in front of the school entrance got drier and drier every year, and its draught period had become longer every year, as people continued to draw water from it for pumping up the hills to have the amenities of clean water, and the situation only got worse as the pumping persisted.
So we dug up the cement trench walls and unearthed the asphalt pavement on the road surface to bring the water into our campus, and built an eco trench over 300 meters long, together with building five eco ponds of varied sizes, that was used to purify the water utilizing physical and biological filtrations. We now see red worms, leeches, spot the wide-mouth nautilus and cone-shaped cornicle, and find water beetles and frogs. We also anticipate the fireflies to come by and delight us with the wondrous glows that they bring.
3. Not a drop of water should be wasted
Water used for rinsing lunchboxes and water discharged from the washbasin became more precious for irrigating school grounds in the absence of rainwater over an extended period. So pits measuring half a meter in width and depth were dug around each of the drainage points and topped off with gravel, intended to guide the water into the soil underneath. So we moved on to chisel off the concrete ditch, over a total of 236 meters, and turned the ditch into turf, replacing the concrete facing that we chiseled off. We are aspired to retain every drop of water to remain in the soil for as long as it can, rather than to drive it away.
II. A lush-green tangible action plan
1. Tree planters seldom rest under the tree
As an enduring day, what made March 12th enduring lied in how the annual tree-planting day, in which every household and every individual of all walks of life planted a tree to ensure a continuous spawning of new growth and to keep tree planters busy enough from taking a break under tree shades. For we are fully aware that it takes the photosynthesis of 2000 trees to supply enough oxygen for the life span of an individual, what we have done so far in tree planting is certainly not enough. So for ourselves and for the sake of others, we do uphold tree planting as part of one’s crucial mission in life.
2. Even scrap wood can be sculpted
Granted that life and death are all part of the natural rhythms of nature, notwithstanding that al things are created for a purpose, and at the time when the life of a tree has ended, it does compel one to ponder how best to maximize and optimize their demise. And doesn’t the same also apply to all of us, for class plaques, planter tags, plank stools, desks and chairs could all be fabricated from a timer, even if we have not thought of it, or why not simply stack the timbers into a porous structure that geckos and lizards could call home.
III. An enchanting flair
1. Power generation by wind
A 1kw power generator device with minimum rotation wind speed at 3.1m/s and termination speed at 60m/s is located right on the second floor rooftop. Another 1/4kw power generator with minimum rotation wind speed at 2.5m/s and termination speed at 55m/s is installed at the end of the runway. Who else but ourselves would be more compelled to want to devise the experimental plan that utilizes such clean natural energy? Or must we continue to burn fossil fuel and coal, or live under the threat of nuclear radiation?
2. Solar power generation
Known as the capital of sunrise, what Dama Li, Taichung gets from 13 hours of sunlight each day would warrant a clear energy plan with having to undergone any experiment, and a subject that we have covered extensively. We have calculated the position of the sun, as we care about its altitude changes, and we are also concerned of impending typhoons, yet what favors us remains an alternative energy proposal that we anticipate to substitute school energy needs with solar energy. With a 10kw volume in power generation, the 100 of us have begun to utilize the power output, and with this limited power output, energy saving would become a crucial plan to us. Even during the summer and winter breaks, we had attempted to bring forth the clean energy output and to share the power output with others.
IV. An enduring campus
A grand vision of ours calls for all of us to put forth the best efforts in creating a practical living philosophy of creating no waste and moderating waste output. A straightforward frugality would provide a direction in achieving this philosophy, or at least be able to turn the refuse that we create into an eco environment on campus. Mirroring the fable of keeping all things good within the family, a diligent and enduring efforts could turn refuse into gold, much like how we have succeeded in irrigating the plains through water pumping.
The very essence of a sustainable campus education lies in more than just a paper plan but relies on everyoneˇ¦s efforts through daily living in reshaping a living and eco environment, combining the local geology, landscape and integrating lateral realistic social criteria, into a tangible environ with local characteristics as a viable approach. For we do believe that as the society is built upon earth, which is where we could find answers as everyone and every community look up to earth. And an urgent challenge in childrenˇ¦s education rests on creating a healthy and safe school setting, at which quality teaching become the norm.
- Hsin Hsing Elementary School
- System: Elementary
- Report year: 2003
- Area: South Taiwan
- County: Taitung