DHS: A Banner First Year with Expansion to Come

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By Kay Phelan

Destin High School was the first new high school to open in Okaloosa County in more than 50 years. A tuition-free, public charter school funded through donations, fundraisers and supporters, DHS officially opened last summer for its first school year. It seems there was a great need as enrollment for the 2022-23 school year for grades 9, 10, 11 and now 12, has exceeded the expectations. There is now a waiting list. Ultimately, DHS will be able to accommodate 800 to 1,000 students, rising from the current capacity of 470 students.

First-year accomplishments are outstanding. For example, Athletic Director Philip Dorn and his staff instituted 22 new sports teams, composed of 11 boys and 11 girls teams.

Numerous other firsts included first power hour, first amazing staff, first clubs, first pep rally, first band concert, first theater production, first Destin Christmas Parade (grand marshall), first National Cheerleading Competition, first Junior prom sunset dinner cruise, first fishing class, first art show and first winter social.

With all of these accomplishments and DHS’s popularity, it’s no wonder the school already needs to expand. The school’s governing board has kicked off a new Phase 2, $9 million Capital Campaign, to be headed up by DAG Architects and Lord & Son Construction, to enable a significant addition to the school grounds with the construction of a 26,000-square-foot multi-story classroom building. It will include wet science labs and an expansive art studio. Also included is a 3,000-square-foot physical training building for sports classes and athletic training.
In addition to offering advanced and state-mandated core curriculum, DHS uses a place-based approach to learning that takes advantage of the local geography, industry and community. This has allowed the school to offer additional curriculum opportunities through authentic, meaningful classes such as commercial fishing/captain’s license prep, biomedical and business/entrepreneurship, to name a few.

“After a five-year journey dedicated to opening a high school in Destin, our board is beyond excited to see the many successes of the first year for our students,” said Denise Fountain, president of the DHS Governing Board. “This couldn’t have happened without the support of the community and we thank them. We hope the community will step up again to help us attain the expansion needs.”

DHS is a 501(C)(3) non-profit entity; all donations to the Phase 2 Capital Campaign are tax deductible. Depending on the donation amount, there are many opportunity perks, including building and classroom names and other campus recognitions. For detailed donor information and levels, contact DHS’s fundraising chair and governing board treasurer Sarah Stone at (850) 598-6888 or treasurer@destinhighschool.org.

For additional information on registering, donating, or volunteering, call (850) 204-4044, email info@destinhighschool.org, or visit www.destinhighschool.org. DHS is also hiring teachers and positions in facilities/maintenance and para-professionals.