Students and staff at Walton Rural 21st Century Rural Life Center are eagerly waiting to see if the school will win up to a $25,000 award in the Intel Schools of Distinction Awards.
The school was named one of 18 finalists for the award in the science excellence category.
The annual program honors schools for implementing innovative and replicable math and science programs that produce positive educational results.
Walton has consistently been one of the top schools in the state on state assessment tests.
Walton, which houses kindergarten through fourth-grade students, was recognized specifically for its rich agricultural project-based learning, incorporating hands-on project experiences that encourage student achievement, a news release said.
Walton’s curriculum encompasses outdoor classrooms, including a green house, vegetable/crop garden, five sensory gardens and a barnyard and prairie restoration area that support students and teachers “getting dirty” in real world applications of math, science and social studies.
Students also market and sell eggs, granola and other projects.
Three schools at each level — elementary, middle and high school — were named as finalists in math and science categories.
The 18 schools will each receive a cash grant of  $5,000 from the Intel Foundation and a trip to Washington, D.C., for a four-member team from their school and district.
Six winners will be selected from the finalists to receive a $10,000 cash grant. One of these winners will be selected as the “Star Innovator” and will receive a  $25,000 grant. All five winning schools and the Star Innovator also will receive products and services from program sponsors.
Teachers from Walton will travel to Washington in September to see if the school will win the Star Innovator Award, said Jeanie Fuller, Newton schools public information coordinator
Chisholm Middle School won an Intel award several years ago and used it to make extensive improvements to technology in the building.