From Destin Elementary to Destin Middle, fifth graders make the move

Tina Harbuck

It may be six months away, but fourth graders who will be attending Destin Middle School as "rising fifth graders" are already getting excited about the next school year.

"I want to try volleyball and art," said 10-year-old Taylor Barnes.

"… and the Cooking Club," Chloe Ledlow, 10, chimed in.

The girls were just two of many youth, along with their parents, who attended Thursday night's Fifth Grade Orientation and Registration at Destin Middle School.

Right now Destin has four fifth grade classes. However, next year, all fifth graders, which amounts to about 147 children, will be housed at Destin Middle.

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.

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 school officials. Two classes of fifth-graders arrived at the middle school during the 2008-09 year. Two more classes have made the move since then.

The remaining students seem to be looking forward to the change, though some have a few apprehensions.

"I'm afraid I might lose my way around," Barnes said.

But others like Ledlow aren't too worried.

"I really want to go to the middle school ... I think it's going to be a cool experience," said 10-year-old Griffin Moore.

Moore wants to join the Building Club and the Fishing Club.

"I like to build things," he said.

However, he is a bit anxious about the teachers.

"I don't know if they are going to be nice or mean," Moore said.

Although most of the children are good with making the move, parents on the other hand are coming around.

"We've just got to do it ... go with the flow," said Julie Jowers, whose daughter Emma will be moving up.

"I feel much better about it now," Jowers said after the presentation at the school.

Prior to the children getting a chance to walk around and look at what will be their rooms, Kelley along with staff spoke with parents and children in the cafeteria. Kelley tried to assure parents that Destin Middle School is a safe and fun place for their students.

"We understand they are your gems," Kelley said. "And we appreciate you handing them off to us." She assured them that  "we will treat them with respect."

Everyone from Deputy Faegin Willis, the school resource officer, to Paula LaSalle and Leah McGill who will be heading up the new Cooking Club got to share with the parents and children all the activities that are possible for them to join at Destin Middle.

Members of the dance team, cheerleaders and band performed routines and played songs.

"The reason we are an A+ school," Kelley said, is because of the support from the parents.

She assured the parents that the young fifth graders classrooms will be located together toward the front of the school, near the administrative office and nurse's station.

"We do not let them change classes at the same time as the upperclassmen," she said. "They will eat lunch by themselves. They will have very litter interaction with the upperclassmen.

"And we provide a wide spectrum for your children," she added.

Rising fifth graders will be able to participate in a variety of sports including the swim team, tennis, golf, basketball, volleyball, softball and baseball, plus cheer, dance and tumbling.

There are also multiple clubs from which they can choose from such as Fishing, Beta, Lego Robotics, Builder's Club and Junior Academic Team.

"I hope you will feel welcomed," Kelley said.