Governor Kay Ivey has announced that Chelsea Park Elementary School has been selected as one of twenty-one Alabama Bicentennial School of Excellence.
The announcement was made on September 3 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 dignitaries from across the state.
Each school to earn the honor 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. 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. Over the last year, Bicentennial Schools in every corner of the state developed projects that made meaningful 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 well beyond Alabama’s bicentennial celebration.
Alabama’s 200 Bicentennial Schools submitted their final reports in August. 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, the culmination of Alabama’s bicentennial.
“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 21 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 21 Alabama Bicentennial Schools Excellence embraced the spirit of the bicentennial in inspiring ways,” added Steve Murray, director of the ADAH and co-chair of the Bicentennial Education Committee. “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.”
Chelsea Park teacher Brooke Dunham said the bicentennial school project has helped create stronger ties between the school and the community. It also created opportunities for students to lead, which will help to create future community leaders.
“If they see today how their community loves and supports them, they are more likely to stay in the community as adults, and will become more vested in the quality of the community as a whole,” said Dunham. “Chelsea, Shelby County, and the state of Alabama will all benefit from today’s students becoming tomorrow’s leaders. Through this project, CPES has truly become home to Alabama’s ABC’s – Agriculture, Business, and Community.”
Principal Jennifer Galloway said the students, teachers, and community members have worked together to make a positive impact in Chelsea.
“I am impressed with the knowledge, skills, and values that our students developed as they worked together to make a difference,” said Galloway. “It brings great joy to see our students proud of themselves for the time they invested in making an impact on our community. Our students were able to learn in our outdoor classroom and sell products grown in the raised garden on campus. These profits were donated to a local food bank.”
The Alabama Bicentennial Schools Initiative is presented in partnership by Alabama 200, the Alabama Department of Archives and History (ADAH), and the Alabama State Department of Education (ALSDE). For a complete list of official Bicentennial Schools or for more information, visit www.alabama200.org.