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Award season is upon us! Every ceremony I attend reminds me why we do what we do here in the Okaloosa County School District. We strive to provide opportunities for every student, help them find their passion, and guide them on a path to help achieve their goals. These opportunities would not be possible without our amazing teachers!

The first week of May (2-6) is Teacher Appreciation Week. I hope you take some time to reflect on the teacher(s) who made an impact in your life and helped you get to where you are now. The ones who took the time to care or went above and beyond to help you. I had three- Mr. Tibbetts, Ms. Cato, and Frau. Yount. 

Teachers have a habit of "adopting" their students, and often you hear them refer to them as their kids. This week, take some time to show your appreciation for all they do because what they do impacts our entire community! They are teaching the Next Generation of Okaloosa Schools.

We would love for you to share our latest news. Please feel free to forward this newsletter to your friends, family, coworkers, businesses, and organizations and encourage them to subscribe! A full agenda is available on our website www.okaloosaschools.com. You can watch the meeting and the meeting workshop in their entirety by visiting the School Board of Okaloosa County's YouTube page.
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Recognitions

Crossing Guards Save Student

Thank you to everyone who helped us recognize the heroic efforts of Ms. Mackenzie Holliday and Mr. Eric Marshall. These two crossing guards help students across Hwy 85 in Crestview to Northwood Elementary School. On March 2nd, they were in their routine, and they stopped traffic for a student to cross.
As the student started crossing, a truck sped through the crosswalk. Ms. Holliday reacted quickly and pulled the child back, so she would not get hit, saving her life. We are grateful for her quick action and the work all crossing guards do each day to ensure our students arrive safely at school and return home. Thank you, Ms. Holliday and Mr. Marshall!
Thank you, Chairman Tim Bryant, for visiting Mr. Marshall to present him with his certificate of recognition!
Watch the Video
Okaloosa Archers Excel
Eight years ago, Keith Oliver, a PE Coach at Shalimar Elementary, suggested we start competitive archery in Okaloosa County. His commitment to this idea started the archery program in our district, and his passion helps it grow each year. At the State competition, over half of the individuals participating and seven out of the top nine placements at the competition were from Okaloosa County.

Destin Elementary School/ Destin Middle School (4th/5th Grade) and Meigs Middle School Archery Teams were recognized at the Okaloosa County School Board meeting as the 2022 State Champions in the National Archery State Program, Elementary and Middle School Divisions. The National Archery in the Schools Program is an in-school program aimed at improving educational performance among students in grades 4th - 12th. Through this program, students learn focus, self-control, discipline, patience, and the life lessons required to succeed in the classroom and in life.
"I am proud that this opportunity is available to the students of the Okaloosa County School District!"
- Superintendent Chambers
Colton Romeo, Destin Elementary School
2022 National Archery State Program Champion
4th Grade Male Division

Brock Meeks, Shalimar Elementary School
2022 National Archery State Program Overall Champion
Elementary Male Division and the
2022 National Archery State Program Champion
5th Grade Male Division

Claire Gentile, Destin Elementary School
2022 National Archery State Program Overall Champion
Elementary Female Division and the
2022 National Archery State Program Champion
4th Grade Female Division

Ava Pierce, Choctawhatchee High School
2022 High School State Champion and winner of a $5000 Scholarship

Not pictured: 
Madison Mall, Choctawhatchee High School
Placed Second in the 2022 High School State Champion and winner of a $3000 Scholarship
 
Congratulations to Meigs Middle School for winning the 2022 State Championship in the National Archery State Program, Middle School Division.
Congratulations to Destin Elementary/ Middle Schools (4th/5th grade) for winning the 2022 State Championship in the National Archery State Program, Elementary School Division.

Administrative Appointments

Ms. Rebecca Childress will be the new Assistant Principal at Niceville High School. Ms. Childress was a National Board Certified Math teacher, Department Chair, Coach, and Club sponsor at Niceville High School. She is also a Niceville High School Alumna. Congratulations, Ms. Childress!

Bus Replacement Program

Superintendent Chambers and our School Board Members have been working together to create a Bus Replacement Program that is now in place. In the past, we only purchased new buses when we could no longer fix the old ones or had the money to, resulting in OCSD’s fleet being labeled the oldest in the state. “I thank each of our Board Members for their vision and commitment to modernizing our bus fleet,” said Superintendent Chambers.

Because of the Half-Cent Sales Tax, some of our Capital Outlay Project funds have been freed up, allowing us to purchase 40 new school buses in 2020-2021 and another 20 new school buses in 2021-2022. These four school buses are the first to arrive with the “22” sticker on the bumper! We plan to add a minimum of 15 more to the fleet for the 2022-2023 school year. The new buses have the latest safety and technology features available, and we are proud to have the “Okaloosa District Schools” name on them! 

Superintendent Chambers Updates the Board

CTE Career and College Signing Day

On Wednesday, April 20th, the Okaloosa County School District Career and Technical Education (CTE) Department celebrated the seniors at Baker, Choctaw, Crestview, Fort Walton Beach, Laurel Hill, Niceville, and OTC who plan to continue in their CTE field of study whether that be going to college, going into the military, or going directly into the workforce. We have 250 eligible students, 136 of whom signed the letter of intent in front of their family, friends, and teachers at the Crestview Community Center.

Much like student-athletes who sign letters of intent to play sports in college, we want to celebrate these young men and women for their academic success. These students have acquired skills that are in high demand in areas like Cybersecurity, Biomedical, Welding, Programming, Carpentry, Automotive, Engineering, and Culinary, to name a few, all backed by recognized industry certifications that employers value.

OCSD is committed to being a leader in Career Technical Education, providing each student with options tailored to meet their interests and aptitudes that will lead to high-demand, high-wage jobs after college or straight out of high school. We could not do this without the support of our community- thank you, Commissioner Mel Ponder, Nathan Sparks, Executive Director- One Okaloosa EDC, and our School Board Members. We also appreciate Crestview Community Television for streaming the event live. Thank you to Ms. April Branscomb, CTE Director, and her fantastic team for making this a successful event!

2022-23 Budget

Our Finance Department is going through the budgeting process and determining next school year's staffing allocations. As a School District, we have a finite amount of money, and we try to be as conservative as we can while making sure we comply with Class Size requirements. The staffing pattern was approved at the April 11th School Board Meeting- schools with higher enrollment will get more appropriations, and we plan to use ESSER funds to support schools in need of more allocations.

Julie Perry, Interim Chief Financial Officer, and her team will distribute school budget packets soon as Dr. Lee Hale, Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources, and his team finalize staffing recommendations for the upcoming school year with principals. These are all critical puzzle pieces that will come into play next school year.

Mental Health in our Schools

The mental health of our students and staff is a priority of the Okaloosa County School District. We started the 2021-22 school year with eighteen mental health counselors rotating between assigned schools. We will have twenty Mental Health counselors for the 2022-23 school year plus three additional mental health counselors and mental health services that will be provided through our partnership with the CDAC. Each high school will have a Mental Health Counselor on campus full-time next year, and the goal we are working toward is to have one in every school as soon as possible.

May is Mental Health Awareness Month.

We are launching a campaign to help break the stigma associated with mental health and mental illness, focusing on our theme Human. Kind. Be Both. Student Services is providing informational brochures, bookmarks, and contact cards that make it easy for students and parents to find resources.

We are creating a series of videos for next school year focused on a message that helps to break the stigma of mental illness. Our goal is to embody an environment where we are student-focused. With our mental health providers and school counselors, students can feel comfortable sharing their struggles and receiving the help and services they may need.

OCSD Introduces Local Military Base to HOPE Squad

Students in the Okaloosa County School District have undoubtedly benefited from our HOPE Squads. We are excited that Dr. Diane Kelley, Vice Chairman of the School Board, and Peggy Brockman of United for a Good Cause helped bring HOPE Squad to the 33rd Fighter Wing at Eglin Air Force Base. They led a day-long training on Wednesday, April 20th, and certified 9 AMXS Advisors who will help shape and grow the program for the military. These advisors will lead the first-ever Hope Squad for active duty military and bring the program with them when they are stationed at other air force bases worldwide. 
"HOPE Squad is making a difference in the lives of students and now it will also make a difference in the lives of service men and women."
-Dr. Diane Kelley, Vice Chairman of the Board
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