LINCOLN -- Two Talladega County schools received recognition as 2015 Alabama Green Ribbon Schools in an announcement made by the Alabama State Department of Education on Friday.

Lincoln Elementary and Lincoln High joined Bluff Park Elementary in Hoover and Auburn University as the four schools earning the achievement.

“We are excited to see more schools and, for the first time, a university, become Green Ribbon Schools,” said Dr. Tommy Bice, state superintendent of education.

“Environmental education is an important part of our overall instructional program. We are proud to honor schools that are creating and innovating new ways to teach and learn about conservation efforts.”

Talladega County Schools have developed a rich tradition in recent years, with Munford Middle, Munford High and Fayetteville High achieving Green Ribbon status in 2013, along with Talladega County receiving the award as a district.

In 2012, Munford Elementary and Winterboro High earned the distinction.

“Continuing our pathway for excellence in the Talladega County Schools, the Green Ribbon Schools Initiative is an exemplary way to connect students with their environment, leading to a greater appreciation and respect for conservation,” Superintendent Dr. Suzanne Lacey said.

Andy Keith, principal of LHS, said teachers really bought into going green during a period when the school earned Energy Star certification from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in 2014. The school revamped its campus by adding a greenhouse, revitalized landscape features and added more recycling bins in an effort to promote recycling through project-based learning.

“Any time you’re awarded anything from (ALSDE) that’s in such high regards as the Green Ribbon award is, it’s very rewarding for myself, for the community, for our county and for the teachers,” Keith said. “We’re just really, really ecstatic that we were chosen as one of the schools to be awarded.”

Keith added the school is in the early stages of building an outdoor classroom.

“Our plans for that is for it to be used by any discipline at (the school), anything from (physical education) to band to English and science,” Keith said. “Any subject or discipline here at (the school), we want everyone to have the opportunity to use that classroom for some type of agricultural use or anything they may want to teach their kids about outside the classroom.”

Dr. Donna Hudson, principal at LES, said while the school does its part to promote environmental consciousness through its outdoor classroom, its junior master gardener’s club and its recognition as an Energy Star school back in 2009, most of the school’s focus ties into making its students more efficient through health and fitness initiatives.

“When you think about the overall goal of a Green Ribbon School, we certainly want that for our children, because it’s good for our students as people (get) to know more about conserving energy and learning more about the environment, and certainly to be better, more physically fit and healthy, and learning about proper nutrition,” Hudson said. “It all goes hand-in-hand with what we want our children to be.”

Programs in place to help students benefit in their health and fitness at LES include the Healthy Eating and Active Lifestyles, or HEAL program, in physical education, and the running club, which boasts more than 100 students.

The school also holds a “Bear Cub 5K Run.” Hudson said the run had more than 400 participants in 2014.

“We’re really working to help our kids become more aware of being physically fit,” Hudson said.

Hudson said it was a great honor for the school to earn Green Ribbon status.

“We are just extremely excited,” Hudson said. “The teachers and students have done a lot of hard work, but it’ll pay off in the long run for our children to know that it’s important we conserve energy and we are kind to our environment.”

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