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Straw Rockets at WDE!

May 21, 2021

On Wednesday, May 19, the first-grade students at West DeFuniak Elementary school participated in building their own straw rockets in science class to connect to the standards that were being taught about space and space travel.  Students were excited to discuss how astronauts travel into space and how rockets work.  Once each student had completed the construction of their straw rocket, they went outside to launch test rockets using a straw rocket launcher.  All of the straw rockets were launched successfully, and the students enjoyed comparing the flights for each launched rocket.

WISE Class of 2034

May 21, 2021

It was a beautiful day for the class of the class of 2034! These sweet Pre-K graduates are on their way to Kindergarten next year, but they will be missed by their teachers, faculty and staff at WISE. Once part of the WISE family, always a part of the WISE family. Good luck little ones, you will all light up the world!  


The Emerald Coast Children’s Advocacy Center provides critical services for child abuse victim in our community.  They have two Centers. one located in Niceville, and the Pierce Family, located in DeFuniak Springs.  The Centers provide a child-friendly place where children can begin to heal from the trauma of abuse.   It’s a place where childhoods once lost to abuse are restored.   Staff and agency partners wrap services around the child and family while holding offenders accountable.  .Services include forensic interviews, medical exams and evaluations, counseling, and access to other community resources.    In 2017, the Center expanded It’s mission to include child abuse prevention education.      Intervention and prevention efforts working toward  making their vision a reality – Healing children.  Ending child abuse.

Presenting….. Audie Rowell, President, Julie Porterfield, CEO, Jasie Landeros, Community Outreach Manager

The Emerald Coast Children's Advocacy Center presented the First Super Hero Award to Superintendent Hughes tonight at the WCSD Board Meeting.  With COVID-19 the Superintendent got the students back to some normalcy this past school year and  the presenters thanked him for that and for being a Champion, so that their program, called Safety Matters, could go back into the schools.  The Superintendent kept the children first in trying to protect them.  Because of his leadership and his team, this year they served 10,151 students with their education program, delivering 380 sessions, and because he allowed them back into the schools there were a number of children that were kept safe.

What an excellent and amazing display of talent exhibited during the Spring Band Concert, Friday night!  New instruments, phenomenal musical talent, exciting and empowering atmosphere of success, musicianship, leadership, teamwork and support.  Attendees left the auditorium in awe of the exceptional work that Mr. Stuart is doing with our Paxton Music Program.  All the components of EPIC were on full display Friday Night!  Mrs. Rebecca Stuart joining in to assist with musical parts not yet developed, Ms. Saltsman accompanied with piano portions, Superintendent Hughes, Principal Brent Jones, and School Board Member Mrs. Jerri Michie were front row taking in the extraordinary melodious sounds and St. Joe presented a $25.000 check to help catapult our program to the next level.  Not sure it can get MORE EPIC THAN THIS!  #hungongainedon!!!!!

 Longleaf Writers Conference – “Writers in the Classroom”

During the second week of May the Longleaf Writers Conference gathers in Walton County with a clear vision:

1. To bring the Gulf Coast a unique opportunity for writers of all backgrounds to meet and learn and grow alongside contemporary literary masters of genre and form.

2. To provide financial aid for emerging writers and veterans and under-represented writers and to be a springboard for their careers.

3. To develop and sustain the “Writers in the Classroom” outreach program sending fellows and scholars to Walton County schools in order to reveal the value of literature and writing. 

4. To make this conference an exemplum of what a small conference should look like by creating a community of writers and poets without any sense of hierarchy or professional competition.

On May 13, 2021 seven fellows and scholars participated in the “Writers in the Classroom” outreach program. This year we had the privilege of working with South Walton High School, Freeport High School and Walton High School. Our fellows and scholars worked with each high school for over 90 minutes to develop an authentic writing work, ranging from poetry to prose. Each student group was given the opportunity to revise, re-draft and polish their original work with their fellow or scholar; culminating with the prospect of reading their work on the final day of the conference. This year three students read their original works on Sunday, at Seaside Assembly hall. Two students from Walton High School and one student from South Walton High School.

On May 14, 2021 three McBride scholarship students from the Colorado School of Mines, visited and spoke with students at the Magnet Innovation Center (MIC). The undergraduate students had an open forum to discuss topics ranging from the university admissions process for STEAM programs and time management within a rigorous college program such as organic chemistry, computer science and chemical engineering. Over 25 MIC students participated in the forum.

In 2013, Jonathan D’Avignon, principal at Walton In”10”sity School of Excellence, founded the Longleaf Writers Conference in collaboration with Dr. Seth Tucker, professor at Colorado School of Mines and Dr. Matt Bondurant, professor at University of Mississippi. Since 2013, the Longleaf Writers Conference has worked with over 1000 Walton County students. For more details please visit

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Last week the second through fifth graders at Dune Lakes Elementary participated in The Life & Legacy Tour featuring Wendy Rodrigue to celebrate the art work of George Rodrigue and his paintings of Blue Dog. The event was sponsored by the Mattie Kelly Arts Foundation and made possible in part by the St. Joe Community Foundation.  

Due to the amazing success of last summer’s Launch into STEM Fun! event, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in collaboration with the Panhandle Area Educational Consortium is offering Launch into STEM Fun 2.0! this summer. We hope you will join us for EPIC learning, fun, and amazing STEM Career presentations, including NASA Astronaut Wendy Lawrence (Captain, US Navy, Retired). 

Click the link below for dates and times.

No Time Lost at DLE!

May 14, 2021

Superintendent Hughes stopped in to do is last pick up of the year at DLE.  No time lost academically as teachers did math questions for students as they were waiting for parents to arrive!  EPIC until the last minute of the last day!  #GainedOn!!!

The Magnet Innovation Center (STEM School) was at its best with various activities!  Alg 2, Spanish 1, Engineering & Photo Shop Exams were all in full function!  There is NO PLACE like THIS PLACE!  Creating the future is the job of these teachers & students!  #GainedON!!!!