Back to school

Students return to DES, DMS for new school year

Tina Harbuck
Destin Elementary Principal Joe Jannazo welcomes parents and students on the first day of school Monday. [TINA HARBUCK/THE LOG]

Emotions ran high Monday morning as a new school year started at Destin Elementary and Destin Middle School.

At the elementary school, cars lined Kelly Street as parents walked their children in to their classrooms. Some took time to take a photo in front of the 2019 balloon sign in front of the school.

Some children held tight to mom’s hand, not wanting to let go, while others easily took their place at their desk or table at the elementary school.

“I anticipate a little bit of chaos, but all controlled,” said Destin Elementary Principal Joe Jannazo. “We have a good plan and our teachers and staff have done this a whole bunch of times.

“We’re excited to have the kids on campus,” he added. “The parents are anxious, some nervous, some crying, but all good. We’re good and happy to start the school year.

Destin Elementary has 970 students this year “and growing … we’re getting bigger,” he added.

Across town, Destin Middle started a 9 a.m. on Monday.

Some walked right into their classroom, while others struggled with lockers. Assistant Principal Karl Schroeder greeted each bus and gave every student a high-five as they stepped onto the campus.

“My goal is to high-five every kid. I want to look them in the eyes and see how they are doing,” said Schroeder, who is new to Destin Middle but not to the Okaloosa County school system.

Schroeder, who will be starting his 28th year in education in Okaloosa County, comes to Destin Middle from Meigs.

While Schroeder’s goal was to greet every student, Principal Grant Meyer's goals were pretty simple but monumental for the first day.

“If we get all the kids on campus and into the right classrooms, feed them and get them on the right bus, we will have done a great job,” Meyer said with a smile.

After the bell rang there were still student trying to get their lockers open.

“It takes a few minutes to learn their way around,” Meyer said of the fifth graders. “They are so nervous about opening those lockers, so we build in time the first few days of school … give them time to practice. We’re not counting tardies. We’re just trying to get them on campus and in the right spot.”

Destin Middle has 775 students.

“But before it’s all said and done we’ll be at 800,” Meyer said.