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WISE Pre-K classes visited Holland Farms for their Fall field trip, and this is a “Thank You” board that Mrs. Bumper's class took back to the owners.


WATERSOUND, Fla.— The St. Joe Company (NYSE: JOE) (“St. Joe”) and Walton County School District today introduced the Magnet Innovation Center at St. Joe Watersound, a STEAM high school facility unlike any other school in the region.

The Magnet Innovation Center was unveiled at a press conference on Thursday featuring remarks from St. Joe CEO Jorge Gonzalez, Magnet Innovation Center Director Carrie Sneed and Walton County School District Superintendent Russell Hughes. The announcement was commemorated with a presentation of keys which were uniquely designed by students and created using the Center’s 3D printer.

St. Joe will continue to own the site, located at 133 S. Watersound Parkway, but enable the school to operate under an agreement with the Walton County School District. St. Joe and the Magnet Innovation Center will share the campus until St. Joe relocates its corporate offices to the Beckrich Office Park in Panama City Beach, which it intends to do in the spring of 2020. At that time, the school will be able to utilize the entire facility.

The inaugural students of the Magnet Innovation Center have been taking classes at South Walton High School since the beginning of the 2019-20 school year while they await the completion of renovations at the new campus. This first phase of renovations is expected to be completed in December. The Walton County School District has worked for several months to build laboratories and classrooms and to enhance campus safety and accessibility.

“We could not be more pleased to see our office campus go to a use that will be such an asset for the local community and region. Our campus is laid out perfectly for a school and large enough to accommodate many years of growth,” said St. Joe CEO Jorge Gonzalez. “We are firm believers that a rising tide lifts all boats. When good things happen for the community, good things happen for our residents. This enhances the educational opportunities in our community, which is good for everyone.”

In addition, the St. Joe Community Foundation provided a $226,118 grant that the school has used to purchase robotics and technology equipment. Created in 1999, the Foundation provides grants in the areas of education, environmental stewardship, healthy communities, and programs that honor the cultural arts. The Foundation has issued grants totaling more than $23 million in Northwest Florida since its inception.

Russell Hughes, superintendent of the Walton County School District, said that having the opportunity to use this location for this purpose is a tremendous gift for the county, the fastest-growing in Florida and the sixth-fastest in the nation.

“When I saw the facility, it was just phenomenal. To have a school we wouldn’t have to build really was a godsend,” Hughes said. “We’re creating something that we want people from around the world to fly in to see.”

The Magnet Innovation Center students are taking specialized classes in STEAM subjects: Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math. Currently, there are 60 students enrolled in the center. When the new school opens in December, they will start their day briefly at South Walton High School, then board a bus for the 12-minute ride to the Magnet Innovation Center. They will return to South Walton High School in the afternoon to complete the rest of their instruction.

Officials expect that the school will grow, doubling in size next year and rising to as many as 250 students in four years. Students from across Walton County are invited to attend the magnet program, but it is selective. Applicants must submit letters of reference and write an essay about their interest in, experience with or desire to learn more about STEAM.

The school will have top-of-the-line tools to facilitate teaching. In addition to wet and dry labs complete with equipment and software, the Center is acquiring a CNC milling machine with air power drawbar. The Visual Technology Lab will be outfitted with iMAC workstations and access to virtual reality goggles, digital drawing tablets, 3D printers, 3D scanners, laser engravers, large format printers and numerous software programs. Students will work to earn certifications in programs such as Adobe, AutoCAD, Inventor and Revit.

“Having a campus totally dedicated to educating our students in the area of STEAM is vital to not only the success of our students but the success of our local area,” said Carrie Sneed, Director of the Magnet Innovation Center. “Northwest Florida is a booming area of technology and advancements for the future. Having a campus here, in Walton County, where we can start building relationships with our students and community members, will promote bringing those students back to the area as adults to work in our local economy.”

SWHS MIC Ribbon Cutting

Walton County School District Media Specialists meet regularly to collaborate and plan for media programs.  Their discussions provide new media specialists with an opportunity to gain valuable insight from their more experienced peers.  They have recently been working on a Media Specialist Handbook that will provide consistency throughout the district.  From book fairs to book orders to student engagement, this group works hard to make the Walton County School District Media Centers the best that they can be!   WCSD Media Specialists will help you find what you are looking for!

Media Specialists

Superintendent Hughes and many other local and state agencies worked on a major Table Top exercise today. The purpose was to discuss, assess, and recreate what Walton County would look like, share ideas, concerns and improvements in case of a major storm. Extremely powerful information, planning and conversations kept us fully engaged. Great Job Mr. Jeff Goldberg and staff for this intensive practice!

Table Top Exercise

Table Top Exercise

Table Top Exercise

Table Top Exercise

This week, faculty, staff, and students honored Coach Laurie Gilbert with a retirement party. Coach Gilbert will be retiring in December after 32 years of teaching. The entire Paxton family is very thankful for all Coach Gilbert has done for our school and wishes her well in her retirement. Coach Gilbert has been at Paxton for 17 years and taught at Freeport for 15 years before that. She will continue to stay on as track/cross country coach. Attendees of her party included her husband (Bryan), children (Maryllyn and husband Blake, Ryan and wife Brooklynn), granddaughter (Evie), sister (Cathy), and mother-in-law (Sherry). Thank you, Coach Gilbert!

On Tuesday, November 19th, fourth and fifth grade classroom winners participated in the Schoolwide Tropicana Speaking Competition. Parents, students, teachers, and judges were amazed by the well thought out speeches and the students' ability to present them to such a large group of people. Congratulations to each of these students!!!

Fourth Grade Winners

1st- Kyson Allen ••• The Tasmanian Devil

2nd- Makenna Anderson ••• Addiction

3rd- Charles Allan Brooks ••• Mad Scientists Throughout History

WDE Tropicana 5th Grade

Fifth Grade Winners

1st- Annabel Hicks ••• My Geographic Tongue

2nd- Carli Nowling ••• Sharks Anonymous

3rd- Calie Brackin ••• Crocs

First and second place winners from our school competition will represent West DeFuniak at the District Tropicana Speaking Contest on December 12th at Freeport High School.

Cover picture: Emma Baker, Broxson Dickey, Hallie Campbell-Work, Jake Daniel

Students from Mrs. Willcox's Kindergarten class at WDE enjoyed making Stone soup while learning about the letter S. Each student brought in an ingredient to add to the soup. They also enjoyed listening to different versions of the story Stone Soup. 

WDE Stone Soup

Pictured: Henley Cosson

WDE Stone Soup

Pictured: Terry Gandy

Kobe Phillips presented his winning speech from the 2019 Florida Farm Bureau Youth Speech Contest at the Tuesday night meeting of the Walton County School Board at South Walton High School. Kobe, a student at Freeport High School, placed 3rd in the state of Florida in the annual speech contest sponsored by the Florida Farm Bureau Women's Leadership Committee.
The 2019 topic was: “Recent natural disasters have had a
major impact on agriculture. How have these impacts affected
Walton County School District is incredibly proud of Kobe, and look forward to following his promising future!

Kobe Phillips'

Kobe Phillips

WDE 5th Grade and Magic Hands

November 19, 2019

Cover Picture – LtR – Liam Holley, Dariyon Moore, Mason Shelton, Brianna Jiggetts, Hannah Johnson, Destiney Waggoner

As an introductory experiment to their study on properties and states of matter, physical and chemical changes, and mixtures and solutions, WDE 5th graders experimented with a solid and a liquid to make a gas. The 5th grade students mixed baking powder and vinegar to create a reaction and make the gas. The combined products made the “hands” come to life by emitting a gas. The students enjoyed watching the magic of the gloves rising!


WDE Magic Hands

Mckade Nelson, Isabella Adkinson, Skyler Ramos, Carli Nowling

WDE Magic Hands

Daetyn Kee, Amiliauna Robinson, Hayden Arnold

WDE Magic Hands

Ethan Lewis, Que’Asia Dukes, Bethany Hopper