Nearly 15 years ago, Destin residents foresaw the need for a Destin High School. The growing population, coupled with an isolated location and deteriorating conditions at neighboring high schools, solidified the community’s resolve to turn a dream into a reality. As the voices of support have grown in number, determination, and passion, the City Council directed and approved the formation of the Destin High School Advisory Committee in 2016. The committee researched concerns regarding overcrowding/overcapacity circumstances at the two schools serving Destin students – Niceville High School and Fort Walton Beach High School – as well as distance, wake-up times, length of commutes, and current school facility conditions. The committee also noted the fact that Destin students must cross two bridges to attend high school –bridges that often close during inclement weather and emergencies.
Other factors the committee considered included the increasing population of school age children at the elementary and middle school levels, which in time will have an impact on the high schools., especially at the K-5 level, and overcrowding at. Due to the influx of students and need for increased capacity at Destin Elementary School (DES), fifth grade students were relocated to Destin Middle School (DMS). With a surging student population, DES and DMS are now over capacity. As of January 2019, both neighboring high schools are at capacity, creating an impact on options available through FL Controlled Open Enrollment.
Due to the geographical and capacity issues impacting the needs of students and families in the Destin area, the community has rallied behind the idea of a new high school. There has been overwhelming public support for the construction of a Destin High School designed to meet the needs of all students in the area. Residents and community stakeholders have stepped up to lend a hand in order to ensure the dream becomes a reality. To date, the board has raised nearly $40,000 in cash donations in only a few months purely through grassroots efforts.
As support continues to grow, business owners, developers, non-profits, and even non-residents want to help see this vision come to fruition. The importance of well-rounded and unique curricular options is abundantly clear, so we sought community input on potential areas of focus and programs. This input led to our decision to offer career academies and career-themed courses with direct application to our local community in addition to the more traditional college preparatory course of study. Special areas of focus will include such things as environmental and marine sciences, cyber security, tourism, and construction (e.g., Carpentry; Electrical; HVAC; Masonry; Plumbing; Construction Technology).
These programs will be well-supported through numerous local resources, will lend themselves to increased connectivity to the local community, and will provide students with multiple options for postsecondary pathways that range from direct entry into the workforce to pursuit of a college degree. Destin High School’s educational program is designed to connect with the Destin area’s rich history, tradition, and culture revolving around the military, fishing, and coastal environment, but also because of the potential for unique partnerships with local universities, and other entities such as military and defense contractors, the Gulfarium, and the Choctawhatchee Bay Alliance.
Because we understand that students’ postsecondary pathways are as unique as the individual student, Destin High School’s innovative educational programming encompasses career interests that support students’ transitions after high school directly into the workforce, or their postsecondary studies in career training programs and the college and university system.
Our overarching goal is to prepare every Destin High School student for success in their chosen postsecondary pathway, while ensuring the needs of the Destin community are fulfilled, as evidenced within our proposed educational design. As part of this innovative place-based approach, Destin High School offers hands-on instructional opportunities through project-based learning, community-oriented projects, and instills leadership within all students through student-led mentoring, leading to a supportive culture fostering the success of all learners.
Destin High School strives to offer a top-notch education where students feel safe and supported to meet their postsecondary goals. The people of Destin overwhelmingly favor a high school in our city, and current data substantiates the need for one. In making the Destin High School vision a reality, we not only strive to benefit Destin, but the county as a whole.
The founders of Destin High School eagerly await the opportunity to provide a modern school that embraces modern technology, classrooms, teaching methods, and amenities to Destin-area students in a school located within their home town. The Destin High School we envision will ultimately benefit families, businesses, and community stakeholders throughout Okaloosa County.