Sudents and staff at Harrogate High School are going all-out to welcome the world for the UCI Road World championships, by stepping up to create a huge piece of celebratory land art, and an avenue of flags to represent each of the 90 countries taking part.
With the global spotlight falling firmly on Harrogate for the duration of the cycling event, the school is keen to show its support in a very visual way - made from recycled materials, the land art will depict the image of a bicycle, and the hope is for it to be so big that it will be seen by the swarms of circling TV helicopters over the town.
The designs show the art in front of the main school building spanning more than 75 metres, with a 100ft UCI logo.
Students are also working hard to incorporate important environmental messages into the artwork, including the efforts of the school's dedicated Eco Warriors group. The project has already received backing from North Yorkshire County Council chairman Jim Clark, who has awarded funding for the art, and Harrogate Borough Council, which has allocated a grant for the avenue of flags.
The school has involved the wider community, too, with Granby Care Home staff and residents being invited to collect recycled materials, and a wave of impressive business support.
Catherine Wright, who is the member of staff leading the project, said: “We have had a lot of interest in the project, and as the size of it determines how visible it will be from the sky, we hope it will be seen from the helicopters when the cycle races are taking place.
"We wanted to encourage the students, staff, school families, friends and local businesses to come together as a community and help collect enough material to make something really good.
“Many of our pupils are already keen cyclists, using their bikes to get to school but, it’s always good to encourage more and we hope to run a series of cycling safety workshops to run alongside this project. A project like this will help to bring the whole school together and also put the school in the limelight."
Students and staff are keen to extend their relationship with the Granby care home beyond the cycling project, chatting to residents and playing dominoes with them during a recent visit to collect recycled materials.
Granby care home's activities coordinator, Briony Spandler, said: “We are delighted that Harrogate High School invited us to help collect material for their project and really look forward to seeing the finished product.
"Both staff and residents were very pleased to be able to contribute to the project. It is great that the students want to promote the importance of recycling and reiterate the importance of us all caring for the environment. It’s a wonderful opportunity to send a message to a worldwide audience.”
The school's headteacher, Charlotte Clarke, has praised the efforts of students, and said she hopes the artwork will continue to drum up interest. She said: “This is a wonderful opportunity for the school to come together. Our students are keen to get their environmental concerns about recycling across to a worldwide audience as well as sending a positive message of community and welcoming people to Harrogate. The art will be really impressive and help to put the school on the map."
Harrogate High School's Eco Warriors group steps up to make UCI project one to remember
The school's Eco Warriors group has already done a lot of work within the school to promote recycling, and they have now a key role in this project to help collect the materials needed.
Josh Jones, who is part of Eco Warriors, said: "The project has two main parts to it, the cycling and the recycling. What I hope is that people will realise the importance of recycling and the impact it has on the environment."
Students Coco Haughton-Fisk and Taylor Turnbull were invited to attend an exhibition organised by Waste Trade Industry in Coventry - ‘The Recycling Event - It Doesn’t Cost the Earth.'
Students had the opportunity to hear talks by retailers and specialists, from Waitrose to Greenpeace, about the future of recycling.
Coco said: "We were really interested to hear what the industry experts had to say. It made us realise the importance of all of us thinking differently about the choices we make every day."
Taylor said: "We now realise how complicated recycling is. All of us need to make lifestyle choices to help. We all need to work together and be more educated on what is good recycling and good decision making."
The students both agreed that retailers need to be clearer on their packaging, and be honest about how recyclable their products actually are.
Support from businesses
Absolute Commercial Interiors is one of the businesses that has supported this project. Max Clark, Managing Director (North) of Absolute Commercial Interiors based on Hornbeam Park, said:“We at Absolute were delighted to support the staff and pupils at Harrogate High School, by collecting and donating our plastic containers for them to use in their ambitions recycling arts project.
"It is so important that everyone understands the long-term impact our everyday objects have on the planet.”
Can you help?
Harrogate High School would love to hear from any businesses, community groups or individuals who might be able to donate materials to support the project. Email Catherine.Wright@harrogatehighschool.co.uk if you think you might be able to help.