Back to School Spotlight

Celebrating local area achievements

Back to school season is in full swing across the Emerald Coast—a great time to reflect on yet another reason why so many people choose to live in the communities served by The Premier Property Group. As summer traffic gives way to school bus routes and carpools, and Friday Night Lights kick off the weekend in local high school stadiums, we want to take time to applaud our area’s gold-star public education offerings.

It’s true that Okaloosa, Walton and Bay counties boast some of Florida’s most pristine beaches and real estate, but they are also home to some of the best schools in the state. In fact, Okaloosa County holds the #2 ranking across all of Florida’s 67 school districts. The county’s four high schools along with two community schools and many of its elementary and middle schools have achieved an A+-rating. “We like to say, ‘no matter where you live in Okaloosa County, your child will be in a great school,’” said Henry Kelly, program director with the Okaloosa Schools Office of Community Affairs.

While Okaloosa County excels at traditional academics with millions in scholarships awarded annually, there is less awareness about the school system’s commitment to Career and Technical Education (CTE). In fact, the whole region offers robust programs that allows students to earn workforce education certificates that can help them with gainful employment when they leave school. In Okaloosa County, traditional CTE programs offered include HVAC, automotive, culinary and even a working cosmetology program on two campuses.

Some other unique offerings include:

  • A four-year aerospace engineering program offered in conjunction with Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University at Choctawhatchee High School
  • The SSTRIDE medical program supported by the Florida State University College of Medicine at Crestview High School
  • A four-year biomedical program at Fort Walton Beach High School
  • A robust IT and robotics program at Niceville High School with certifications provided that enable students to begin working for tech companies while still in school

Walton County School District is one of only 20 in the state that received an A+ rating, and all of the county’s high schools are currently named in U.S. News and World Reports’ Best High Schools list. The school district also boasts Florida School of Excellence designations at five of its schools and received the following 2018 State Assessment rankings:

  • #2 in the state for 9th and 10th grade Algebra I
  • #8 overall, out of 67 school districts
  • Ranked in the state’s top 10 schools for 11 out of 21 categories

In neighboring Bay County, graduating seniors earned $27.5 million college scholarships during 2107, and five students were recognized in the National Merit Scholarship Program. The school district’ dual enrollment program and advanced academic exams helped students earn enough college credits to save more than $1.3 million in tuition costs. In addition, 182 seniors earned industry certifications, positioning them for higher-level employment opportunities following graduation.

Academics is just the tip of the ice berg for these school systems. In addition to these achievements, local districts offer strong sports programs where athletic teams compete at the highest levels, as well as nationally-recognized music programs and a full array of specialty clubs and extracurriculars.

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