'They've needed this identity': Destin High's three-story addition is well underway
After opening its doors for the first time in August 2021, Destin High School is literally moving on up with the addition of a multistory facility that will hold 800 students.
“It was cool yesterday coming around the corner … and once you get past the pool and it’s above our building. It’s going to happen,” Principal Christine Cruickshank said as she sat in her office.
The crane lifting huge pieces of steel to make the frame work of the building could be seen towering above the existing school located off Commons Drive in Destin.
"There it was … it’s going to happen,” she reiterated.
The new facility, or Building D, will be a 26,000-square-foot, three-story building that will house 800 students. The project is headed up by Lord & Son Construction and DAG Architects.
"We can’t thank them enough for taking on this project,” Cruickshank said of Lord & Son.
“Their mission is to get it up and get it done, and they are amazing. They are working their fingers to the bone to get up and get it done,” she said.
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Steve Schroer, site superintendent on the project for Lord & Son, said they started in November. Then last week they poured the concrete pads.
“We started hanging steel on Monday,” Schroer said.
Once all the steel is in place, Schroer said the next thing will be the decking.
Although there is a lot of work to be done on the $10 million dollar project, plans are already made for what will be on what floor.
“The first floor is going to house a beautiful art studio. And third floor is going to house some brand-new science labs,” Cruickshank said.
“It’s going to be great to have and will allow us to offer more classes,” she said.
In 2021, Destin High, a charter school, started with 300 students in grades nine through 11. This year, it has 475 students and will graduate 55 seniors in May.
“Next year I’m looking for 600 to 625 students,” she said.
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When the new building is done “sometime in the fall,” the A Building, which currently holds administration as well as four classrooms, will become the sole administration building.
B Building is the auditorium where they hold morning assemblies and theatrical performances, and C Building has 14 classrooms, plus there are four portables on site.
“I think it’s exciting … it’s going to be probably one of the newest buildings in the county as far as an educational building,” Cruickshank said.
The three-story facility will have an elevator, stairwell and wider hallways than in the current building.
“The plans are amazing, and it’s exciting to see what we’re going to be able to offer. Not just larger classrooms but specialty classrooms for different programs,” she said.
Destin High is currently in the application process for its 2023-24 year.
“Right now, I’m concentrating on ninth-graders,” she said, noting she already has 140 to 150 in that grade.
Cruickshank said siblings of existing Destin High students get priority as well as students with a Destin address, and military families in the application process. But she encouraged people to get those applications in sooner, rather than later.
“Hanging the steel … it’s a beautiful thing. It makes it real because it’s going to be a beautiful amazing building,” she said.
"We’re trying to offer a quality program,” Cruickshank said.
"They’ve (Destin youth) needed this identity. I think we’re trying to work hard to bring the best program that we can with a little bit of creativity thrown in,” she said.