A year like no other: Okaloosa County schools say goodbye to 'most challenging' year

Northwest Florida Daily News/USA TODAY NETWORK

Across Okaloosa County, students were recognized by teachers and family members Wednesday on the last day of school. It was the conclusion of a school year unlike any other.

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“From our pre-kindergarten all the way through to our graduating seniors, our students have persevered through the most challenging school year in memory,” said Okaloosa County Superintendent of Schools Marcus Chambers. “Our teachers and school staffs are heroes, plain and simple. Okaloosa County schools will be even stronger going forward based on the challenges we’ve faced and overcome together this year.”

Teachers and students at Elliott Point Elementary enjoy a bubble celebration Wednesday as the last day of school in Okaloosa County drew to a close.

At Elliott Point Elementary, bubbles filled the air as teachers and students celebrated the conclusion of another school year. Last-day activities at Kenwood Elementary seemed somewhat subdued, with perhaps a tinge of sadness as some students will move on to another school for the next school year.

Across Choctawhatchee Bay, Destin Elementary held an outdoor graduation ceremony for more than 200 fourth-graders, most of whom will attend the grade 5-8 Destin Middle School next school year.

More than 200 fourth-graders graduated from Destin Elementary School on Wednesday morning.

And at Annette Edwins Elementary, Principal Gwen Morris walked the school’s ramps to say goodbye to some of the 450 students. It was a bittersweet moment for Morris, who will retire later this month after 28 years with the Okaloosa County School District.

Edwins Elementary School Principal Gwen Morris gets a goodbye hug from student Addyson Shipley on Wednesday, the last of school in Okaloosa County.

“I actually went to school here, taught here and became the principal,” said Morris. “The kids that I taught in the fourth grade, their kids are here now.”

The staccato sound of snare drums filled the halls of Liza Jackson Preparatory School as about 100 eighth-graders accompanied by a drumline paraded through the school in an annual tradition that honored the students on their last day of middle school.

Eighth-grade students at Liza Jackson Preparatory School are recognized by fellow students, teachers and families on the last day of school Wednesday as they paraded across the school grounds one last time.

Many of the students have spent their entire academic career at the K-8 school, and will be moving on to a new school for the first time in August.

Students will have a little less than nine weeks to enjoy their summer before the next school year begins, Aug. 10.