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Bicentennial Schools of Excellence awards honor 21 schools, include sculpture by Sylacauga’s Craigger Browne


SYLACAUGA, Ala. – Marble is Alabama’s state rock, and just when you might think sculptor Craigger Browne has done it all with Sylacauga marble, he’s done it again to help mark the state’s 200th birthday.

On Wednesday, Sept. 3, 21 schools will be honored in the Bicentennial Schools of Excellence ceremony hosted by Governor Kay Ivey at the Alabama Department of Archives and History in Montgomery. Each school, three from each Congressional District, will receive a $5,000 grant along with a special Sylacauga marble sculpture created by Browne.

Browne’s latest inspirational masterpiece – and only the 21 were created, with no two exactly alike – is called “The Dawning”. Three hills, he told, symbolize the foundation of a solid education as pyramids, the most stable of geometric shapes, weathered by wisdom and time. The rising sun represents every student – a circle, the shape with the most potential for motion, and translucent, polished, and glowing.

“Just as the sculptor brings to life the beauty and potential inside each stone, so does the teacher with each student,” according to Browne in the event’s printed program.

Ivey launched the initiative in December 2017, encouraging students statewide to help celebrate Alabama becoming the 22nd state on Dec. 14, 1819. In August 2018, she announced that 200 Alabama Bicentennial Schools including B.B. Comer Memorial High School, Pinecrest Elementary School, Coosa Valley Academy, and Coosa Central Elementary School received $2,000 grants supporting year-long projects designed to strengthen connections between campuses and their communities. Honorable mentions and $500 grants were awarded to 56 schools including Childersburg High School, Sycamore Elementary School, Winterboro High School, and Coosa Central Middle School.

Winners in the Third Congressional District: Auburn High School, Cedar Bluff School, and Springhill Elementary School.

The Alabama Bicentennial Schools Initiative is a partnership of Alabama 200, the Alabama Department of Archives and History, and the Alabama State Department of Education.

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