Three Etowah County schools and another entity we’ve often praised received statewide recognition — and, in the case of the schools, a little cash.

Southside High and John Jones Elementary were among 200 Alabama Bicentennial School Initiative winners announced last week by Gov. Kay Ivey. Each school received a $2,000 grant.

West End High received honorable mention and a $500 grant.

ABSI is part of the celebration of Alabama’s bicentennial. Organizers say it’s a way to show “what is special” about the state ahead of that 200th birthday next year.

Interested schools had to submit project proposals to be considered by ABSI officials; close to 400 did. The prize money will help make those projects a reality.

Southside High plans an oral history project covering the cities of Southside and Rainbow City, which provide its student base. Older residents will be interviewed and their stories recorded, with an eye on a potential play in which those stories would be re-enacted.

We’re always supportive of efforts to record and document history while those involved in making and living it are still here to tell their stories.

John Jones Elementary will try to intensify its recycling efforts, placing recycling bins in classrooms, spreading the word about recycling outside the school and promoting community involvement. Perhaps it will help convince a few naysayers that “going green” isn’t a sinister plot and shouldn’t be treated like a chore.

Across the county, a display at the Gadsden Public Library was recognized by the Alabama Public Library System.

Clerk Brittany Yow spearheaded “Summer of Empathy,” a display designed to showcase different lifestyles.

Yow selected 30 books, each of which was placed in a brown paper bag bearing key words related to the books’ respective stories.

For example, the bag containing “To Kill a Mockingbird,” by Alabama native Harper Lee, bore the words “young white girl, racism in the South, lawyer, justice system.”

Yow has been an advocate for civil rights in her work at the library, and the idea for this display was to expose patrons and readers to diverse perspectives and situations outside their comfort zones.

The reaction hasn’t been universally positive. That’s not surprising.

Two-thirds of the books have been checked out, and library officials say patrons generally don’t peek to see what book is in the bag until they get to their cars. That’s reassuring.

Yow was recognized in APLSeeds, the newsletter sent to all public libraries (and many other libraries) within the state.