By SHERRY DIGMON
Rachel Patterson Elementary School went down in history last week when the school was selected one of 21 Alabama Bicentennial Schools of Excellence, based on the success of its Pandas for Pets partnership with the Atmore / PCI Animal Shelter.
The presentation was made by Gov Kay Ivey Tuesday, September 3, in Montgomery with RP principal John Brantley, Escambia County Superintendent of Education John Knott, and RP lead teacher Julie McDonald, who headed the project at the school.
Wednesday, September 4, a school assembly was held to give students in first, second and third grades a chance to join in the celebration. A number of officials and community leaders were also in attendance.
Brantley praised all involved in the project.
“Pandas for Pets would not have been so successful if not for everyone’s efforts,” he said.
Brantley listed teamwork, commitment, goal setting, togetherness, and family as the elements that led to success.
He also talked about an added benefit to the project.
“This helped our students understand what working together can do and accomplish,” he said.
The school received a check for $5,000 to continue the project, and Atmore City Councilwoman Susan Smith went to the podium to announce additional funding from herself, First National Bank & Trust, Pepsi Bottling Co. of Atmore, and Johnson Ford. They contributed an additional $800.
Julie McDonald credited RP teacher Amy Dean for bringing the grant to the school.
“We were able to raise awareness,” McDonald said. “We teach students it’s important to care for animals. Since we started the project, twelve dogs and eight cats have been adopted. One pet was reunited with its owner after four months.”
Alabama Representative Alan Baker and Alabama Senator Greg Albritton addressed the assembly.
“You are such a spectacular group,” Baker told the students. “It was an honor to be part of the ceremony yesterday in Montgomery with Governor Ivey.”
Albritton and Baker presented three proclamations from Gov. Ivey’s office, the Alabama Senate and the Alabama House of Representatives.
“You don’t know at this point the recognition you are receiving,” Albritton told the students.
Mayor Jim Staff addressed the assembly: “It’s strange to me when one of our schools go off for a competition, they always bring something back. This is another shot for Atmore. I’m proud of y’all. It’s just fantastic this could come back to Atmore.”
Superintendent Knott added his congratulations: “On behalf of the Escambia County School Board we commend you, the students and staff, for this great accomplishment.”
Referring to the presentation in Montgomery the day before he said,
“This was the most unique, the most outstanding project…when I see what’s going on at Rachel Patterson, I think of one word – community.
This happens only when everyone works together.”