Destin High School is approved as application member to FHSAA

Tina Harbuck
The Destin Log

Destin High School accomplished a lot in its first year, from band concerts to theater productions, and fielding 22 athletic teams.  

On Tuesday, June 7, Destin High made it over another big hurdle. The Destin High Sharks have been approved as an application member to the Florida High School Athletic Association. 

“It was exciting,” said Destin High Athletic Director Phil Dorn, who was at the FHSAA headquarter office in Gainesville for the approval. 

Dorn said Destin High was recommended by the executive director who gave a “positive recommendation.” 

Destin High Athletic Director Phil Dorn attended the Florida High School Athletic Association board meeting in Gainesville on June 7 and got good news that the school has been approved as an application member to the FHSAA.

"It’s a huge start for our school. Now we’re in the membership process with the Florida High School Athletic Association. We are basically just as legit as any high school in our area and can get into sports and competitions and do things for our students, which is why you join ... for the students,” Dorn said. 

Dorn and Principal Christine Cruickshank started the application process back in April. 

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“When you are a charter school, you have to do an audit, which we did. You have to turn in your charter. You have to turn in all kinds of stuff,” Dorn said, noting there was a lot of documentation they had to turn in. 

The application itself was about five pages long. 

“It’s a pretty thorough process,” he said. “As a high school you have to be in existence for at least a year to be able to do the stuff that we did.”

Destin High opened its doors in August of 2021 with 300 students. 

“Even though you have to be in existence for a year … it was phenomenal that we got approved in a year because there were schools that have been open a lot longer than we have that got denied (on June 7),” Dorn said. 

"We’ve got a lot to be proud of … we did it on our first try,” he said. 

The Destin edge 

"We did a good job on the application and providing the information that they wanted,” Dorn said. 

Part of the audit process is to show that you are a stable school and you must be in the accreditation process, which Destin High is currently in. 

“We were kind of running at warp speed to get things going here for Destin High,” Dorn said. 

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Plus, the fact that Destin High is the only high school in the Destin community was “appealing” to the board, Dorn said, not to mention their full complement of 22 sports, 11 for the girls and 11 for the boys, that can provide competitions for schools in the area. 

Dorn also knew some of the people on the board from his time in south Florida, and they knew he had been an AD in Florida for 15 years. 

“I think all those things came together (to give Destin a bit of an edge),” Dorn said. 

Destin athletics 

“We’re part of the FHSAA structure and eventually we will be accepted into the state series so our kids will have a chance to earn state championships,” Dorn said. 

But it’s a process. 

Dorn explained the school will go through a two-year provisional process and will continue to play against other Florida schools. 

"We will not be eligible this year to be in the playoffs, 2022-2023, but we are an FHSAA member school, so our contests count for us and others,” Dorn said. 

“It’s OK, at least we’re in the door,” he said. 

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By the fall of 2024 Destin High athletes should be eligible for playoff competitions. 

“It’s a great thing … super excited about it,” Dorn said. 

Starting next year, all their games will count. 

Dorn said their FHSAA membership will help when calling schools to schedule contest. 

Plus, there is “no reason” for student athletes not to come to Destin High, he said. 

“Our programs will be just as accredited as anybody else,” he said. 

Destin will compete as a 1A school. Other 1A programs in the area include Baker, Freeport, Bozeman and Vernon.