DECISION TIME: Where will Destin 8th graders go to high school?
With the school year beginning to wind down, Destin Middle School students are trying to decide where they will go to high school in 2020-2021.
For years Destin students were zoned for Fort Walton Beach High School, with some getting waivers to go to either Niceville, Choctawhatchee or even South Walton High. But now there is another option on the table, Destin High School.
“The last few months there has been a lot of talk (between kids, parents and teachers),” said Destin Middle School principal Grant Meyer. “There have been a lot of questions about the Destin High School about what they are going to offer and not offer. I think that‘s really hindering some of them to make a decision.”
Destin Middle has just under 200 eighth graders and many of them are very active in extracurricular activities such as band, interact club and sports.
“They are hesitant to make a decision now at this point and not know if the new high school is going to be able to offer all those,” Meyer said.
Nevertheless he did say students would have the option to go to Destin High School and still participate in athletics at Fort Walton Beach.
As a matter of fact, eighth grader Jareny Enriquez, who played on the championship Destin soccer team, plans to go to Destin High with hopes of playing soccer at Fort Walton Beach.
On Monday, Lori Lipnicky from the guidance department at Fort Walton Beach High School was at Destin Middle School talking to eighth graders throughout the day in the media center explaining what Fort Walton Beach has to offer.
Lipnicky talked about everything from honors English to chorus and everything in between.
But before she started going through the list, she encouraged the students to reach out to whichever school they decide on and learn as much as they can about what they will offer.
“I believe knowledge is power,” Lipnicky said. “So seek out as much information as you can.”
Fort Walton Beach will present a Conquest night at 6 p.m. Feb. 19 in the gymnasium. During that evening, upcoming ninth graders will get the chance to meet teachers, coaches, elective teachers and have a chance to walk around the building.
“Even if your not coming to Fort Walton Beach ... come check it out,” Lipnicky said.
Some of the eighth graders in attendance Monday had already decided where they are going and some are still undecided.
Jackson Burke, who lives in Bluewater Bay, plans to go to Niceville.
“My entire family went to Niceville,” Burke said
Dalton Taylor said he’s going to Fort Walton Beach if the new Destin High School isn’t ready.
Sophia Bouchette said she is in the lottery for the Destin High School. However, she liked what she heard from Lipnicky about Fort Walton Beach.
Bouchette was excited about the prospects of band, art and was especially excited about taking driver’s ed.
Angelica Roberts is also looking at Destin High, but liked what she heard about FWB such as the sports and archery.
Ava Smith, who plays on the softball team at Destin Middle, plans to go to Fort Walton. She is looking forward to playing on the softball and basketball teams, plus getting in the bio-medical program.
As for MJ Toth, who lives in Bluewater Bay, she plans to stay on the north side of the bridge and go to Niceville.
Blakeley York has her sights on Fort Walton Beach.
“I’m looking forward to the opportunity to do new stuff and meeting new people,” she said. “And I’m looking forward to softball.”
When is the last day an eighth grader can declare where they want to go?
“They can change their mind,” Meyer said.
The recommendation is to go ahead and register with the school of choice as soon as possible and get set up with the classes that the student will need.
“They can change their mind,” Meyer said, but campuses are filling up.
There are still a lot of questions with Destin High.
“Time will tell how it all plays out,” Meyer said. “This next month will be crucial because families are trying to make decisions. Students really want to know, because it’s a big deal as they move on from middle school and take the next step.
“They are excited about it ... whether it’s Destin High School or South Walton High School or Fort Walton Beach, they are excited and ready to go,” he added.