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The Freeport Middle Baseball team held their award banquet on Monday at a Pensacola Blue Wahoos Game. All players and parents were treated to an all you can eat buffet of hamburgers and hot dogs. "The Wahoos game is a great reward for a awesome group of young men who I have really enjoyed coaching this season." -Coach Wassman.  Submitted by Chelsea Ellison.

From left to right in the picture:

Kim Kirby, School Board chairperson; Jim Pitts, Kiwanis member; Wanda Pitts, Kiwanis member; Hossein Vahabzadeh, Kiwanis membership chairman; Superintendent Russell Hughes; Janine Strouse, Kiwanis Vice-President; Maurice Strouse, Kiwanis President

The Freeport-South Walton Kiwanis club recently made a very generous donation to support the 5th grade students of Walton County in their attendance at the annual 5th grade Symphony Concert presented by the Northwest Florida Symphony Orchestra.  For 30 years, the NFSO has provided free annual concerts at the Mattie Kelly Fine Arts Auditorium for Okaloosa & Walton county students with specialized youth oriented programming & teacher's curriculum.

This years concert featured the music of Johann Strauss, Smetana, Felix mendelssohn, and Benjamin Britten.  Maestro Jeffrey Rink began the concert with a demonstration of the musical instruments that make up the orchestra.  The orchestra was joined by student solo violinist Blake Richardson, and 8th grader from Maclay Middle School in Tallahassee, who was the winner of the Junior division of the NFSO Annual Concerto Competition.  The concert concluded with Britten's "The Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra", which includes a narrator and an introduction to each family of the orchestra! 

The concert provides an opportunity for students from Walton County to experience a high level quality of music in one of the most acoustically and aesthetically satisfying performance venues in the South, the Mattie Kelly Fine Arts Complex, on the campus of Northwest Florida State College.  The Freeport- South Walton Kiwanis Club has graciously sponsored the students in this annual event for a number of years.  As a result of their sponsorship, over 700 Walton County School District students were impacted by the presentation this year! 

Submitted by Keitha Bledsoe

Superintendent A. Russell Hughes was the guest speaker at the DeFuniak Kiwanis April 24th meeting at McLain's Restaurant.  The Superintendent was invited to speak by retired Walton High School assistant principal and Kiwanis member, Terry Shoaf.  Superintendent Hughes shared  his commitment to lead with honesty, integrity and transparency in the journey toward excellence in Walton County schools.  He reiterated that the primary motivating force driving all decisions in Walton County School District is what is best for our students, stating "My heart will always be with children!"

Mr Hughes discussed some of the serious challenges we face in this time regarding school safety. He addressed his collaboration with the Walton County Sheriff's Office and Walton County School Board to make certain we have the additional manpower and procedures needed on our campuses to keep our students safe. 

Superintendent Hughes shared that Walton County School District currently ranks in the #1 position in the state in 9th and 10th grade Algebra 1. In overall achievement scores, Walton County ranks #6 out of 67 districts in the state of Florida.  Mr. Hughes shared, "People are wanting to come to Walton County, not only for the value and quality of life we have to offer here, but also for providing a school system that they can be confident in, that is showing itself to be highly competent."  We have 5 schools that are designated "Schools of Excellence", and 27 teachers in our school district who were identified as "High Impact" educators by the Florida Department of Education. 

The Superintendent also shared with the members of Kiwanis that we are helping provide our community with a strong workforce through the expansion of programs at Emerald Coast Technical College. ECTC has tripled in enrollment since Mr. Hughes took office, growing from 85 students to over 300, and offering programs in Electricity, Automotive, Building Construction, Administrative Office, Information Technology, Pharmacy Tech, Patient Care Tech, Practical Nursing, Cosmetology, Welding, and Air Conditioning/Heating. 

Superintendent Hughes shared his efforts to provide authentic and timely information to our parents and community through monthly video updates, our community van, social media and resources on our district website.  Mr. Hughes shared "It is important that our constituents know that Walton County School District is a visible, active and credible part of this community." 

Submitted by Keitha Bledsoe

Mossy Head School had a special visitor for student drop off.  Superintendent Hughes came to help encourage our students as they arrived at school. 

Submitted by Elizabeth Gaither

WHS senior Melanie Nowell auditioned for the color guard at the University of South Alabama on Saturday (April 21) and not only made it, but was offered a $2000 scholarship to march with them and participate in the USA Jaguar Marching Band and USA Winter Guard.
Congratulations, Melanie!  We are proud of you!
Submitted by Christy English

Walton Middle School would like to invite its incoming sixth graders (current fifth graders) and parents to a "Middle School Jump" Title 1 Parent Training Night on Thursday, May 10th, at 6:00 p.m., in the WMS Cafeteria.  At this event, students and parents will gain insights about how to have a successful middle school experience.  A free meal will be provided, as well as childcare for preschool and elementary students.  WMS can't wait to see new students and parents there!

Submitted by Kristen Nelson

47 and climbing...Emerald Coast Middle students earn CIW Internet Business Associate (IBA) certification. This international industry certification validates student knowledge of important technologies that affect virtually every business and demonstrates they’re prepared to work effectively in today's business environment.

Submitted by Wendy Carter/Angela Vance