LITTLE MAN ON CAMPUS: Last of fifth-graders to move to DMS

Katie Tammen

After spending several years at two schools, fifth-graders finally will be in one location.

Beginning in August, the three remaining classes of fifth-graders at Destin Elementary School will move to Destin Middle School.

“The timing is right,” Destin Middle Principal Diane Kelley said. “I can easily accommodate the move.”

The final transition not only will help ease over-crowding at Destin Elementary, which is nearing its capacity, but help declining enrollment at Destin Middle, according to Okaloosa County Deputy Superintendent of Schools Kaye McKinley.

“We’ve been working on easing them over there,” McKinley said. “(And) we can’t just keep moving portables into Destin Elementary.”

Superintendent Mary Beth Jackson announced the change Monday night to the School Board. Members didn’t vote on the issue because they gave the transition the green light several years ago.

Two classes of fifth-graders arrived at the middle school during the 2008-09 year to deal with the same issues both schools still face, McKinley said. Two more classes have made the move since then.

When the final classes arrive, the students likely will adjust to their new environment quickly, Kelley said.

“By the time the second semester rolls around they are very acclimated,” Kelley said. “It’s their school.”

All the fifth-grade classrooms will continue to be at the front of the school near the administration offices and away from older students, she added.

The fifth-grade teachers at Destin Elementary this year will move to Destin Middle over the summer, McKinley said.

The new students will be allowed to participate in most middle school activities, from sports to clubs. For the last two years, fifth-graders have even had a fishing club of their own, she said.

To help ease parents’ concerns, Kelley said the school will host several events, including an open house, for incoming fifth- and sixth-graders Feb. 14. Teachers and administrators will answer questions and give tours of the school, Kelley said.

“We are delighted, and I think it’s going to be a win-win for both schools,” she said.

WANT TO GO? The open house at Destin Middle School will begin at 5:30 p.m. Feb. 14 in the cafeteria for incoming fifth-graders and at 6 p.m. in the gym for incoming sixth-graders. The school is at 4608 Legendary Marina Drive.