A.H. Watwood Elementary School in Childersburg was recently named a 2016 Green Ribbon School by the Alabama State Department of Education.

It joins seven other schools within Talladega County that have received the prestigious honor.

Last week, the state announced the list of Green Ribbon winners and nominees.

Watwood was selected this year’s Green Ribbon School, and the University of Montevallo was selected as the 2016 Green Ribbon University for Alabama.

The schools were honored for creating “green” environments for their students and staff.

“We are proud to honor these schools and their tremendous efforts to reduce environmental impact and utility costs, promote health and offer environmental education,” said Dr. Tommy Bice, state superintendent of education.

Students lead the environmental friendly learning at Watwood.

Their willingness to be proactive is reflected through programs such as the “Leader in Me” and “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People” by Stephen R. Covey.

The elementary school is described as having a “warm, student-centered environment,” which is experienced upon entry with greetings from a student leader.

“They are leaders and are important examples for all schools examining their own ways to become more environmentally friendly,” Bice said.

Leadership is exemplified on a daily basis in the student body by practicing leadership roles, leadership notebooks and school celebrations and clubs.

“Sharpening the Saw” is one of the “seven habits” Watwood students are learning to incorporate into their daily lives.

This habit teaches a balanced lifestyle and encourage students to take care of their bodies by exercising, eating right, getting enough sleep and finding meaningful ways to help one another.

Project Based Learning is modeled by creating experiences filled with communication and collaboration challenges.

“I am pleased that Watwood Elementary has earned the 2016 Alabama Green Ribbon distinction,’’Talladega County Schools Superintendent Dr. Suzanne Lacey said. “Dr. Scarlet Thomas, principal, has does an exceptional job leading the ‘green’ movement, and through the process, has developed opportunities for students to participate in various clubs that promote health and wellness and environmental education.”

Lacey noted that in 2013, the entire Talladega County system was named a National Green Ribbon District.

“Watwood's recent selection signifies a long-term commitment to continued excellence in educating students on the importance of an environmentally friendly campus,” Lacey said.

Teachers at Watwood promote health education and physical fitness by sponsoring the “Trailblazers” running club and “iFit” fitness club.

Students recently participated in the Color Me Rad 5K in Birmingham.

The “Curb Appeal” club is responsible for campus enhancements. The “Green Thumb” club upkeeps the school’s plants and garden on campus.

The PBL learning would not be possible without partnerships and investments with local businesses.

Home Depot is a community partner with Talladega County Schools. The business recently donated supplies for the “Green Thumb” club to build raised beds, and helped with the construction of those beds as well as the planting of a vegetable garden on campus.

Local businesses such as Blair Block also serve as community partners for area schools.

A concrete table was donated by Blair Block to the “Curb Appeal” club, and a $500 grant was awarded to the club by the Sylacauga Arts Council.

Watwood serves around 375 students preschool through fourth grade.

All winning and nominated schools will receive recognition by the Alabama State Board at its May 12 meeting.

The schools will be celebrated with a picnic lunch at East South Farm in Montgomery, sponsored by the Environmental Education Association of Alabama.

Gifts of appreciation such as Green Ribbon Flags and special environmental related gifts will be given to the schools, sponsored by Legacy, Partners in Environmental Education, Moresco and Wave PowerSteward.

The U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon School program is a federal recognition program and was established in 2011.