Myrtlewood & Walker Selected as Alabama Bicentennial Schools of Excellence
On September 3, 2019, Governor Kay Ivey announced Myrtlewood Elementary School and Walker Elementary School have been selected as Alabama Bicentennial Schools of Excellence. Only 21 schools across Alabama were selected for this honor. The announcement was made at the Alabama Department of Archives and History (ADAH) in Montgomery, where Governor Ivey was joined by superintendents, principals, and teachers from the selected schools, along with legislators and other officials from across the state. Each school also received a $5,000 Governor’s Award grant to support its continued commitment to student-led community engagement.
Launched by Governor Ivey in December 2017, the Alabama Bicentennial Schools Initiative encouraged all public, private, and homeschool students and teachers to participate in the celebration of Alabama’s 200th anniversary of statehood. In early 2018, all Alabama schools were invited to submit proposals for community service and engagement projects connecting classrooms with their local communities. In August 2018, 200 schools were selected as official Alabama Bicentennial Schools and received $2,000 grants to support the implementation of their projects.
In addition to Myrtlewood Elementary and Walker Elementary, four other TCSS schools were selected as official Alabama Bicentennial Schools: Faucett-Vestavia Elementary, Huntington Place Elementary, Lake View Elementary, and Vance Elementary. Northport Elementary was one of 56 other schools selected for an Honorable Mention through the Bicentennial Schools Initiative, receiving a $500 grant for its community project.
Over the last year, Bicentennial Schools in every corner of the state developed projects that made contributions to their local communities. Ranging from oral history projects to community gardens to mentorship programs, these projects fostered new relationships between schools, students, and local citizens that will extend beyond Alabama’s bicentennial celebration.
Alabama’s 200 Bicentennial Schools submitted their final reports in August 2019. Community leaders from across the state served on committees tasked with evaluating each project and selecting 21 schools, three from each congressional district, to receive the additional designation of Alabama Bicentennial School of Excellence. In addition to receiving the Governor’s Award grants, the Schools of Excellence will be invited to participate in commemoration ceremonies in Montgomery on December 14, 2019, the culmination of Alabama’s bicentennial.
For its project, Myrtlewood Elementary created a Caring Closet, located inside the school. Caring Closet provides basic necessities, including meal kits, toiletries, school supplies, and clothing items for students, teachers, and their families. So far, Caring Closet has been able to provide support to more than 200 individuals. Not only has the closet helped to meet essential needs, but it has also created opportunities for important conversations and helped students to develop a true sense of empathy.
Walker Elementary created a Bicentennial Garden in front of its school building. Not only is the garden a beautiful addition to the community, but it is also something community volunteers had a big hand in creating. The garden includes native Alabama plants, as well as an outdoor Little Library, filled with books about Alabama.
“The 21 Alabama Bicentennial Schools of Excellence embraced the spirit of the bicentennial in inspiring ways,” Steve Murray, director of the ADAH and co-chair of the Bicentennial Education Committee, said.
“The combination of innovation, hard work, and community service seen in these projects serves as a model for building a bright future in Alabama’s third century.”
“As Alabama nears 200 years of statehood, it is important to engage our students. After all, our students are the future of our state and the ones who will lead generations to come into the next 200 years and beyond,” Governor Ivey said.
“I am proud to award grants to twenty-one schools to carry out their community service and engagement projects. This is an exciting time for our state, and I am glad to see our young people taking initiative.”
The Alabama Bicentennial Schools Initiative is presented in partnership by Alabama 200, the Alabama Department of Archives and History, and the Alabama State Department of Education.
For a complete list of official Bicentennial Schools or for more information, visit www.alabama200.org.
Photo captions, top to bottom:
Grant presentation to Myrtlewood Elementary on September 3 in Montgomery.
Grant presentation to Walker Elementary on September 3 in Montgomery.
The Caring Closet at Myrtlewood Elementary.
Dedication of Walker Elementary Bicentennial Garden in April 2019.
Little Library located at Walker Bicentennial Garden.
Walker Bicentennial Garden.