Destin High School is making preparation for the influx of more students

Tina Harbuck
The Destin Log

Destin High School is just weeks away from opening the doors on year two and volunteers and staff were busy this past week getting the school ready to do just that. 

“There are lots of things going on to get the school ready,” said Destin High Principal Christine Cruickshank. 

Destin High got off the ground last year, its inaugural year, with just a little more than 300 students in grades nine through 11. This year, enrollment has increased to 475, which means more desks and classrooms. 

Teachers Julie Worth and Tyler Berman were busy during the work day at Destin High putting new desks together along with the students.

“We’re putting together new furniture. We have 475 new desks for the classrooms that are pretty cool,” she said, noting they can hook together and will allow teachers more flexibility in the rooms. 

And every desk has to be assembled, to the tune of 32 screws each. 

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On Thursday, students and staff were manning electric screwdrivers and getting the job done. 

Julie Worth, who teaches English at Destin High, said the group she was working with had put together 48 all before noon. 

“It’s not hard,” said Haven Hughes, who will be a junior at Destin High. 

Charlie Frankfurt, an incoming freshman, said he had put together about five or six desks. 

Alex Aslin, an incoming junior, left, works with new teacher Kelly Tucker to assemble desk during a work day at Destin High.

In addition to putting desks together, Cruickshank said they will be painting classrooms and hallways. 

“We're getting it cleaned up and ready to go for our 475 students to return to school on Aug. 10,” Cruickshank said. 

But before that, the school will have an orientation for the incoming freshman on July 26 and 27. 

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Destin High has 164 freshmen enrolled. 

“It’s very exciting,” Cruickshank said. 

Along with the incoming students will be the first-ever senior class of 70 students set to graduate in 2023. 

These desks and chairs outside of Destin High School are up for donation.

Following orientation, teachers will be coming back on Aug. 1 and Destin High still has a few openings. 

“I’m still looking for a couple of positions … I’m in the process of interviewing,” Cruickshank said Thursday morning. 

She is looking to bring in one more math teacher as well as a biology teacher. 

“My goal with that is to keep the classes small … to allow the teachers to be able to interact more with the students,” she said. 

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Destin High has added 12 new teachers, plus replaced a few that didn’t come back for various reasons.  

“So, we’re looking at a staff of 15 new faces in the building” this year, Cruickshank said. 

And some of those new faces were on campus for the work day on Thursday.  

Kelly Tucker, who will be teaching business as well as a leadership class, was on the floor working to put a few desks together. 

“I’m game for whatever … and it’s an easy way to meet people,” Tucker said, when asked about the work day. 

Destin High School has four portable classrooms they will be using on campus for the upcoming school year.

Tyler Bergman, a new geometry teacher, was busy with the electric screwdriver as well. 

With the extra 175 students comes a few changes for Destin High. 

“We’ve had to revise some things in the daily schedule,” Cruickshank said, such as a split lunch. 

“But the kids will still have a version of Power Hour,” she said. 

Power Hour is an open hour used for lunch and meeting with teachers, tutoring, working on a project or just relaxing. 

School will be starting at 7:45 a.m. to allow for the additional bodies in the building and the transition to the portables set up out back. Students will have five minutes between classes instead of three minutes. 

Haven Hughes, a junior, works to put a desk together while her friend Avery Emmick watches.

“The portables are here and are larger than most of our classrooms,” Cruickshank said. 

Each portable will hold about 25 students for a core class or a bit more for an elective. 

A couple of the portables have already been assigned. One will be for the new business and leadership teacher, and another for a math teacher who offered to use one of the portables. 

The size of the classroom in the portables is more the size of what the classrooms in the new multi-story building Destin will be, much bigger. 

“We’re going to be tight on space, but we’re going to make it happen. And put everything in place to make sure we’re safe and able to move around,” Cruickshank said. 

At this time last year, there were a lot of unknowns about Destin High, and even what year two would look like. 

However, “with the things we were able to do this past school year and all the successes we’ve had and the culture that is growing in this school … being smaller and being more family-like and knowing our students, I think it is a special place,” Cruickshank said. 

“Last year there were a lot of unknowns," she added. "Like are you going to have this or is this going to happen? I’d say, 'I hope so, yes, I think it will.' Now I can say, 'It’s happening and it’s happening in a big way.' "