Cleveland students campaign to save Borneo's orang-utans

A GROUP of Cleveland District State High School (CDSHS) students took part in an educational, international teleconference last month to help save orangutans.

Their efforts are part of a global learning project named DeforestACTION - an international initiative to help save orang-utans from extinction by raising awareness of and combating illegal deforestation in Borneo.

The students became involved in the movement early last year after their science teacher Chris Gauthier entered a competition for one of 15 key places in the project, which includes a 3D documentary about the plight of the orang-utans.

They helped him create a two-minute video application as part of his entry and despite the application being unsuccessful, the students and Mr Gauthier stayed involved in the project, raising money, support and awareness through market stalls, tree plantings, a film night, and other fundraising and educational activities at school.

Mr Gauthier said Cleveland High was one of only six schools in the Asia-Pacific area that were chosen to play an interactive part in the 5000-student strong teleconference, with other students who played an active role coming from schools in Taiwan, Singapore, and India.

At the time of the teleconference, CDSHS had raised almost $5000 for DeforestACTION and ranked second in the world for its support of the project, while Mr Gauthier ranked third in the world for his individual support.

Year 12 student Olivia Hill addressed the teleconference on behalf of her school.

"I spoke about what we'd done as a group to raise awareness of the issue," Olivia said.

"I felt really proud to stand up and say 'This is from Cleveland High', and then tell them about our fundraising and what we've done to raise awareness of the project."

Mr Gauthier, who will travel at his own expense to Borneo to help with the project for two weeks in May, said students were now using satellite imagery to help monitor sections of Borneo forests for illegal logging.

"As a teacher, there is nothing more rewarding than seeing your students become passionate about something," he said.

"I brought this project to them initially, but now they're driving the bus."

For more information about DeforestACTION, visit the project's website at <#start#>

To help CDSHS students reach their fundraising target of $10,000, visit the school's ACTION hub at <#start#>

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