Ally Limbaugh arrived at school dressed as Wonder Woman Thursday. But instead of the third-grader saving Metropolis, she was protecting Lake Martin from litter.
The Lake Martin Resource Association (LMRA) announced Oct. 27 that Limbaugh had won the 13th annual Celebrate Lake Martin T-shirt contest. The Nathaniel H. Stephens Elementary School student received the honor for the picture she drew encouraging her peers to preserve Tallapoosa County’s natural beauty.
“I tried the hardest I've ever done, and after I painted it, I felt really good about it. I drew the lake, and I put a campsite beside it because I really want to do that one day.” she said.
Due to her dedication, LMRA president John Thompson explained that Limbaugh and other Alexander City children will help ensure the Lake Martin waterways can be enjoyed for years more without risks from garbage or litter.
“The fact that we can talk to them at this age, and show them what has to happen to make sure our roadsides and communities are clean is I think really one of the most important things we achieve with this environmental school program,” he said.
Lekishia Richardson agrees and immediately latched onto the tradition when she assumed the role of the school’s principal earlier this year.
“We wanted to make sure to bring it back this year so students could understand the impact that they can have on the environment,” she said. “We wanted them to learn about the importance of the lake, and how it's such an important place within our community.”
Richardson explained that students learned about the Lake Martin watershed during art class, including watching videos about the lake’s natural ecosystem as inspiration for their drawings.
The school hosts the competition in conjunction the “Renew Our Rivers” initiative, a clean-up operation that the the Lake Martin Resource Association coordinates annually with the Alabama Power Company (APCo), Russell Lands, Advanced Disposal, Wind Creek Park, TowBoat US Lake Martin and Lake Martin Dock Company.
According to Thompson, since the initiative's inception, the annual cleanup has removed more than 160 tons of trash from the shoreline and roadways surrounding Lake Martin.
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Thompson praised Richardson for preserving the school tradition and believes warning children about the damage of litter will foster environmental stewardship as they age into adulthood.
“We want to start them at this age learning about the cleanup because what they enjoy about the lake relates back to the cleanup and it really will help maintain the beauty of our wonderful community,” Thompson said.
For Limbaugh, she found the competition as a means of empowering her community through art.
“My favorite class is art because we do a lot of creative stuff and I love to draw and paint
Ally’s parents, Timber and Gabe Limbaugh, described the award as a shock, with the school surprising the family Thursday during the announcement.
“I actually didn't know anything about the contest. When we were told about it, I dropped her off that morning at school, and the teacher came to the door saying, ‘Oh, we got a surprise for y'all,’” Gabe said.
It was a pleasant surprise indeed as LMRA will distribute t-shirts with Ally’s drawing to students as well as volunteers during the annual clean-up on November 4 and 5.
“She is very outspoken, outgoing and creative,” Timber said. “She's gifted, and we're super proud of her.”