New Location Will Open in 2021-22 School Year
By Kay Phelan
The much-anticipated Destin High School (DHS) is slated to open for 9th and 10th graders (and currently investigating the possibility of 11th graders) in August of 2021. The tuition-free public charter school is under contract to purchase the Grace Lutheran Church property located at 4325 Commons Dr. W., next to the Mattie Kelly Cultural Arts Village. DHS will be a model for innovation providing unique educational opportunities for both college-bound and vocationally-minded students living in Destin and along Florida’s Emerald Coast.
The DHS Governing Board, comprised of members Prebble Ramswell, Denise Fountain, Myra Williams, Sarah Stone, Heidi LoCicero, Jim Luttrell, Dr. Mitch Silver, Al Gardner and Drew Palmer, has been diligently working to bring the community its own high school, starting with entering into a $4.6 million purchase contract with Grace Lutheran for the land and buildings. A closing on the property is anticipated in the early part of this year.
Mike Wind, executive director of ministries for Grace Lutheran Church, commented, “We are very excited for the Destin community as the prospect of having its own high school gets closer to becoming a reality. And, we are prayerful for them as the board works to make it happen.”
Greenwich Investment Management, based in Stamford, Conn., and well-versed in educational facility investments, will handle DHS’s financing of the new site.
DHS’s Governing Board president, Prebble Ramswell, commented, “The vision of opening Destin High School is about to be a reality due in large part to our donors, parents, community leaders, and our Governing Board. We are thrilled to have the assistance of RoundTable Funding whose financial advisors are highly experienced in guiding visionaries like the DHS Governing Board through the processes of securing charter school financing, retrofitting, project oversight and building additional school facilities. This community asset will make a positive economic impact while greatly enhancing the quality of life here in Destin.”
In addition to site acquisition and financing, the board has also retained the services of DAG Architects. The local architectural firm which has designed schools throughout the state including Destin Middle School, is designing site plans for the retrofit, and set forth a strategic plan to accomplish the renovation in record time.
The board is also pleased to announce that DHS’s first head of school has been selected following a nationwide principal search and intensive interview process. The principal will be announced in the coming weeks.
The student enrollment application period will commence this month. In addition to offering advanced and state-mandated core curriculum, DHS will utilize a place-based approach to learning that will take advantage of the local geography, industry and community. This will allow the school to offer additional curriculum opportunities through authentic, meaningful and engaging personalized learning for students.
Fundraising is a critical component of opening the school. The start-up costs alone are $400,000. Long-term, the more revenue raised toward purchase cost, the less needed to be financed, thus putting additional revenue into student programming, opportunities and options. Of course, when DHS is fully operational, as with all public educational institutions, the school will receive state and federal government funding. Area businesses and individuals can contact the DHS fundraising chair and governing board treasurer, Sarah Stone, at (850) 598-6888 or email@example.com.
“We would like to thank the students, parents, citizens and donors that have supported the efforts to bring forth this highly desired and needed educational asset. We promised that the board would be working hard to move the ball across the finish line. Destin High School is happening. Now is the time for the community to step up, donate, volunteer and take part in the plan to enhance the community educational experience for our students,” said Sarah. There will be a series of small group meetings and tours at the future home of DHS. More information will be forthcoming to keep the community and future students updated.
For additional information on registering, donating or volunteering, please call (850) 424-1664, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.destinhighschool.org.