Destin Middle School is celebrating its 20th anniversary this school year. In that time, the school has influenced thousands of students and become an integral part of the Destin community.

Destin Middle School has been molding and educating children for the past 20 years.

This school year will mark the 20th anniversary of when the school first opened its doors to middle school students.

“I’m excited and proud to be a principal of such a fantastic school. The community backs the school and its traditions even though it’s relatively new,” said Destin Middle School Principal Grant Meyer. “That shows what kind of students and teachers we have and their commitment for them to succeed.”

Meyer said the academic standards have always been high.

“When Destin Middle School first opened it was a B school. The following year it made it to an A school and has not changed for 18 years,” he said.

The middle school likes to concentrate on sports, electives and extra curriculum activities.

“Kids are starting sports at a very young age in little leagues. … They can continue playing sports in Destin Middle School,” Meyer said. “The school is the centerpiece of the community.

“Kids like being in school and being a Marlin. They have so much pride in their school and that’s something special you get to see,” he added.

Meyer said the first few graduating classes are now out in the work force and the city gets to see how the school molded them and helped them become the adults they are today.

“We get to see how they are giving back and impacting the community in a positive way,” he said.

Fifth grade language arts and social studies teacher. Taylor Anderson, is one of those former students who graduated from Destin Middle School and is now giving back to the community. She said she loved growing up in Destin and remembers when she used to walk the halls when she was a middle school student at DMS.

“This school has been a huge part of my life. When I came to teach, I had a lot of memories flashing back when I was a student here … it still smells the same,” she said. “Now that I am a teacher I really appreciate it a lot more.”

One of her fondest memories as a student was planning out how she was going to decorate her locker with her mother each year.

“Decorating my locker was a really huge deal for me,” Anderson said. “Now I see girls decorating their lockers … I just have to stop and help them out.”

Anderson is excited for the upcoming year and can’t wait to meet her new students.

“I am very excited to meet my new babies. … They are so tiny and sweet," she said. “I remember how it felt coming to a new school, so I try to make them feel comfortable. They really become my new family.”

Anderson said she thinks Destin Elementary and Destin Middle Schools are the powerhouses of the city.

“The schools are part of the community where our children grow and flourish, she said.

Seventh grade civics teacher, Patti Kroeger, is one of DMS’ pioneer teachers.

“My heart is with middle school students as they become to know and figure out themselves. It's exciting to be part of that process,” she said. “It’s pretty cool when you see a kid light up for the first time.”

Kroeger, who is planning to retired at the end of the upcoming school year, said the school really reflects the interests of the kids and what kinds of programs they wish do.

“We have a lot of kids who are talented musically and in dance. That is why our community supports us,” she said.

Kroeger hopes she has impact the lives of future generations.

“If I helped kids understand the connection between government and their daily lives, that will be huge for me," she said. “I want them to become critical thinkers and learn how to change the system…that is what I want to leave behind as my legacy.”