Destin Elementary School fourth graders get all the pomp and circumstance of graduation

Tina Harbuck
The Destin Log

More than 300 family and friends gathered on the football field Wednesday morning behind Destin Elementary School to get a glimpse of fourth-graders who would walk across the white bridge as part of graduation. 

With the sun beaming down and "Pomp and Circumstance" playing, 200-plus fourth graders with their teachers walked from the school onto the track and to their seats on the field in preparation for graduation ceremonies. 

Every fourth-grader got their seconds of fame of walking across the ceremonial bridge at graduation on Wednesday. Baylen Bischer takes a second to wave as he crosses over.

Last year, Destin Elementary had graduation but it was, like so many other things in 2020, done in drive-through fashion. Families drove through the parking lot, fourth-graders got out to receive their diplomas, they were greeted by Principal Joe Jannazo, then walked across the bridge and back to their cars. 

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This year the students got to go through the processional and ceremony, while parents and friends all had their cameras and cellphones out to capture every minute of the event. 

Destin Elementary School Principal Joe Jannazo congratulates the students who had perfect attendance.

On Wednesday, Jannazo welcomed guests and kept things moving quickly because of the 85-plus-degree weather. 

First the students who made A/B honor roll were recognized followed by those who had made the A honor roll. Jannazo then named the students who had made the A honor roll all five years at Destin Elementary. Students also were recognized for perfect attendance. 

There were about a half dozen of other special awards handed out. 

Okaloosa County Commission Mel Ponder presents the Commissioner's Award to Trey Ketchersid for always "helping out and volunteering."

Two students from each class were recipients of the Citizenship Award. They were Sky Wong, Emmy Anglin, Samuel Alves, Ann Harper Wright, Brian Pacheco Santiz, Sarah Perona, Ellie Presnall, Santiago Figueroa, Carrie Raby, Arthur Da Silva, Philix Vay, Francesca Legayada, David Orsua, Ainsleigh Hill, Zoe Davies, London Levarn, Ashlyn Reigart and Ian Swilley. 

Fourth-grader Caleb Kimbrell runs up to accept his award, the Inspirational Award, during Wednesday's graduation at Destin Elementary School.

Next up, City Manager Lance Johnson handed out the Mayor’s Award on behalf of the city of Destin. Recipients were Palmer Benz, Sophia Sarzuelo, Elle Wolfle, Adelyn Merrell, Connolly Barcus, Grae Lankowski, Autumn Larsen, Jameson Galvin and Stella Moak. 

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Okaloosa County Commissioner Mel Ponder handed out the Commissioner’s Award to Trey Ketchersid. 

Recipients of the American Legion Award were Kingston Dey and Camille Martin. 

Fourth-grade teacher Cecily Hinton presented a special award, the Cox Inspirational Award. She explained that it was going to someone “who doesn’t give up.” 

Destin Middle School Principal Grant Meyer shakes the hand of Fisher Parker as he walks across the bridge during graduation on Wednesday.

Recipient of the Inspirational Award was Caleb Kimbrell. 

Following all the awards, each student received their diploma and walked across the bridge to Destin Middle School Principal Grant Meyer, as a show of entering into the fifth grade. 

Fourth-graders raise their diplomas at the completion of the graduation ceremony on Wednesday.

“I was glad to be able to shake every hand today,” Meyer said, noting last year they were not able to due to COVID-19. 

Meyer and Jannazo had a few closing remarks before the students held their diplomas high with a few shouts from the crowd.