MADISON, AL (WAFF) - A beautiful pond that lies just a few steps away from Legacy Elementary serves as an outdoor classroom, and 5th grader Thomas Little just loves it.
Thomas has been with the school's Pond Committee for two years. Responsibilities include feeding the animals that have made the pond their home.
"We take care of them. We feed the catfish, and the chickens, and the rabbits, and we also trim the herb garden over there," Thomas said.
Teachers refer to the pond as an outdoor classroom. The ecology program at Legacy Elementary in Madison has garnered national attention. Intel Corporation recognized the school's science program as one of the best in the nation in September.
But Thomas already knew that. His favorite subject in school is life science, and he takes advantage of everything the pond has to offer.
His teachers quickly noticed his inquisitive nature and deep involvement at the pond.
"He's always wanting to know why. And here at Legacy, we have the wonderful opportunity of being able to live science right here at our own project pond," said 5th grade teacher Meadows Tidmore.
The students certainly are living it. It isn't rare for Tidmore and her students to hunt for eggs that the pond's resident chickens lay every day.
Even a sobering discovery served as a teaching moment for students when a hawk managed to hunt one of the chickens.
"The hawk used its feet to bite the chicken and ate all of its insides. Even the heart," Thomas observed.
When Thomas isn't studying the pond's ecology, he's busy with cub scouts and his newfound love – competing in the archery team.
"I came home with a form and I said, 'Mom, I want to do archery team. I want to try out this year.' She goes, 'Ok!'"Thomas said.
Thomas volunteers as a gym buddy for students with special needs. He also happens to be a straight-A student and is a dedicated piano player of six years.
All this and his commitment to learning makes Thomas Little our WAFF 48 Star Student of the week.
As for what's next, Thomas said he would like to someday join the Marine Corps and maybe become a scientist.