Okaloosa County Schools got off to a soggy start this year but that has not dampened the excitement of the new school year for teachers, students, and administrators.

“Thank you for your efforts in providing students a warm and welcoming experience despite the rain and nasty weather conditions,” said Superintendent Dr. Alexis Tibbetts. “You calmed many fears for parents and students with the first day jitters. Thank you.”

According to Dr. Tibbetts, District enrollment numbers are up slightly especially in the primary grades.

“Guidance counselors and administrators will be making every effort possible to balance classes and comply with class size in the next few days and weeks” said Dr. Tibbetts.

Tibbetts praised the Maintenance, Custodial, and Transportation departments for their role in making the first days of school smooth ones.

“Our school buildings look great thanks to the hard work of maintenance and custodians over the summer. Transportation did a great job with very few issues and those glitches will be worked out within the week,” said Dr. Tibbetts. “Thank you for being caring and hard working partners in education for our children.”

Despite the rain, Kris Barrett’s third grade class at Shalimar Elementary was off to a great start. Students were settling into their new classroom on the fourth and fifth grade ramp. While separated from the other third grade classes, Barrett said the students did not mind.

“My students feel like big kid’s now that they are outside with the fourth and fifth graders,” said Barrett. 

Emily, Carly, and Alyssa Cooper were excited about getting their new workbooks and said they could not wait to start checking out library books. Emily said she liked seeing the new classroom; Alyssa liked making new friends; and Carly liked seeing old classmates.

Students in Donna Born’s Intensive Reading class at Meigs Middle School were also already fully engaged acting out "Who's on First" by Abbott and Costello.

“Mikalneshia Waters enjoyed yelling at me to show her expressive intonation,” said Born. “When we finished the students had to discuss it with their group and design a graphic organizer to show the names of the characters for each position on the baseball field.”

Born went on to say, “It is always exciting to greet students to start fresh with a new year with positive thoughts and goal setting. Having a new principal at Meigs, we had a few changes to share, which sparked even more excitement. Our theme for this year is GAME ON.....and boy is it!”

Students across the District are adjusting into their new schools and new classes.

Loren Burkett, a new ninth grade student at Choctawhatchee High School, stated she was happy she actually made it to all of her classes and only got lost once.

“I love being at Choctaw,” said Burkett. “It was exciting to see who all is in my classes. Life is good!” 

Technology is also making a big impact in many schools this year. For example, 140 students at Laurel Hill School received iPads this week as part of a pilot iPad program being tested in the District. The iPad program is designed to identify the advantages and disadvantages of the handheld devices in the classroom in preparation of the changing technology demands in education. Students will use the iPad daily in their classrooms as teachers incorporate the device into their lesson plans.

“It is a great privilege to have this iPad pilot at our school,” Laurel Hill Principal, Susan Lowery, told the students. “It is going to be an exciting time….a whole new way to learn in your classrooms with e-textbooks and project-based learning.”

“Our smooth start was truly a team effort by everyone,” said Dr. Tibbetts. “Best wishes for another successful school year!”