Take Stock in Children Graduates 33 Scholars

The Okaloosa Public Schools Foundation (OPSF) held the annual Take Stock in Children Reception and Awards ceremony on Tuesday, May 19th to celebrate the accomplishments of the Take Stock graduates and the potential of the new Take Stock scholars.

OPSF is in its 18th year of sponsoring the Take Stock program in Okaloosa County.  Governed by a Board of Directors, the Foundation is a diverse group of individuals from across Okaloosa County who represent the families, educators, and businesses of our community.  Since its establishment in 1995, OPSF has funded educational enrichment programs including teacher grants for unique programs, student scholars in the Take Stock in Children Program, community educational initiatives, and student and teacher recognition awards.  OPSF is dedicated to supporting and extending the educational opportunities of all individuals within Okaloosa County.

Take Stock in Children (TSIC) is a unique and innovative program that provides two- and four-year scholarships to deserving low-income youth who may not go on to college because of their families' financial situation.  Eighth grade students with good grades, good attendance, and good discipline records who meet the income eligibility requirement are invited to apply for these scholarships.  Each student who is selected by the Executive Committee of the Foundation signs a contract, along with his or her parent, promising to maintain a good school record, to remain drug and crime free and to meet weekly with a mentor.  Students who maintain the terms of their contracts are awarded tuition scholarships to the post-secondary institutions of their choice.

The Take Stock program has shown great results with a high school graduation rate of 94% with 98% of those students entering college with the guidance of 86 mentors from the local community.  This is well above Florida’s average high school graduation rate of 57%for students living in poverty, with only 28% enrolling in college.

TSIC in Okaloosa County was recognized last year with a coveted Excellence Award for successfully providing  at-risk youth with caring volunteer mentors, college readiness curriculum and college scholarships.  The award was presented at Take Stock in Children’s College and Career Readiness Summit.  Attracting more than 250 participants from statewide programs, attendees at the Summit learned from national leaders about the latest data on youth poverty, mentoring, college readiness skills, and career pipelines.

Much of the success of the TSIC program can be attributed to the support and encouragement of the Superintendent of Schools, Mary Beth Jackson, the School Board members, and the school administrators and counselors throughout the School District. 

Several of the scholarships presented during this year’s event have been funded by individuals, businesses and organizations throughout Okaloosa County.

Full Scholarships

  • CareerSource Florida (Eight full scholarships)
  • Mid-Bay Rotary Club (One full scholarship)
  • Panhandle Job Fair Foundation (Two full scholarships)

Additionally the following individuals, businesses and organizations made contributions to the 2014-15 scholarship program:

Scholarship and Program Contributions

  • American Business Women’s Association – Emerald Coast Chapter
  • Boeing Company
  • Center for Lifelong Learning
  • City of Niceville
  • GFWC Fort Walton Beach Woman’s Club, Inc.
  • Gulf Power Company
  • Drs. David and Virginia Morgan
  • Okaloosa Gas Company
  • Publix Supermarkets
  • Society for Human Resource Management – Emerald Coast Chapter
  • State Farm Foundation

“We truly appreciate the partnerships that have made Okaloosa County a model for the Take Stock in Children program throughout the state,” said Debbie Buchanan, OPSF President.  “It is the support of our school district as well as individuals and community organizations and corporations that sustains us.” 

Superintendent Mary Beth Jackson thanked the family members for their commitment to their student scholar and the mentors for the time and support they give to their students.

Congratulations to the Class of 2015 Graduates:

  • Gabrielle Abdo - Crestview High School - CareerSource Florida Scholar
  • Alex Arena - Fort Walton Beach High School
  • Amelia Baffa - Niceville High School - Katie Mathews White Memorial/City of Niceville Scholar
  • Shane Bolding - Crestview High School
  • Breanna Brown - Collegiate High School
  • Chloe Brown - Fort Walton Beach School - CareerSource Florida Scholar
  • Raven Bryant - Crestview High School - CareerSource Florida Scholar
  • Haliegh Castonguay - Baker School - Wal-Mart Scholar
  • Shayna Clay - Crestview High School - Pearl Tyner Memorial Scholar
  • Chris Cunningham - Choctawhatchee High School - Victoria Gaetz Scholar
  • Cierra Dowd - Niceville High School - CareerSource Florida Scholar
  • Tatum Edge - Collegiate High School - Workforce Connections/United Way Scholar
  • Spencer Effatt - Choctawhatchee High School - Workforce Connections/United Way Scholar
  • Steven Fehrenbach - Niceville High School - Katie Mathews White Memorial/City of Niceville Scholar
  • Angela Fermin - Choctawhatchee High School
  • Coltin Fortner - Crestview High School - Cox Communications Scholar
  • Joseph George - Collegiate High School - Fort Walton Beach Rotary Club
  • Chanteria Hamm - Choctawhatchee High School
  • Shayla Hicks-Woolard - Niceville High School - Dr. Thomas and Elizabeth Spence Scholar
  • Elizabeth Hinson - Crestview High School
  • Laquasha Ingram - Choctawhatchee High School - Dr. Thomas and Elizabeth Spence Scholar
  • Leona Jordan - Choctawhatchee High School
  • Justin Lewis - Choctawhatchee High School - Kit Edwards Memorial Golf Scholar
  • Hannah Lindsay - Baker School - Panhandle Job Fair Foundation Scholar
  • Alexander Lucido - Niceville High School - Mid-Bay Rotary Scholar
  • Isaiah McKisson - Fort Walton Beach High School
  • Edin McKuhen - Choctawhatchee High School
  • LaNedra Moore - Crestview High School
  • Kristen Perez - Laurel Hill School - Dr. Mabel Jean Morrison Memorial Scholar
  • Brittany Rollins - Choctawhatchee High School
  • Christian Saylor - Laurel Hill School
  • Lyric Swedenhjelm - Fort Walton Beach High School
  • Sarah West - Collegiate High School - Panhandle Job Fair Foundation Scholar

Congratulations to the Incoming Class of Take Stock Scholars

  • Trysten Abdulghani - Fort Walton Beach High School - CareerSource Florida Scholar
  • Miranda Brown-Hogans - Pryor Middle School
  • Terriaon Canady - Shoal River Middle School
  • Megan Coffey - Destin Middle School - CareerSource Florida Scholar
  • Chance Conner - Liza Jackson Preparatory School - Panhandle Job Fair Foundation Scholar
  • Nigeria George - Niceville High School
  • Kevin Klein - Choctawhatchee High School - CareerSource Florida Scholar
  • Kaylin Lanctot - Bruner Middle School - CareerSource Florida Scholar
  • Leilanie Monrouzeau Colon - Choctawhatchee High School - CareerSource Florida Scholar
  • Courtney Register - Davidson Middle School - CareerSource Florida Scholar
  • Cade Secondine - Ruckel Middle School
  • Bethany Simene - Lewis School
  • Noah Thompson - Meigs Middle School
  • Janelle Tribue - Fort Walton Beach High School - CareerSource Florida Scholar
  • Desmond Tucker - Niceville HIgh School - CareerSource Florida Scholar
  • Madison Williams - Laurel Hill School
  • Robert Williamson - Baker School - Panhandle Job Fair Foundation Scholar
  • Sierra Woerner - Choctawhatchee High School - CareerSource Florida Scholar
  • Shawn Yost - Okaloosa STEMM Academy - Mid-Bay Rotary Scholar

“Each of these students will be matched with a mentor in the upcoming school year,” said Cindy Frazier, Okaloosa County Take Stock in Children Program Coordinator.  “Many of those mentors are in the audience today and we look forward to working together in support of these students as they work towards their future educational goals.” 

Frazier then introduced two TSIC alumni, Daceya McDuffie and Courtney Kitchens, who shared a few words about their Take Stock experience. 

Henry Kelley, OPSF Executive Director and OCSD Community Affairs Program Director, thanked the City of Niceville for providing the facility each year to the Foundation for the celebration and Publix Supermarkets for providing the refreshments.  They provide sponsorship for our local event each year and are a statewide corporate sponsor of the Take Stock in Children program.

To learn more about the Okaloosa Public Schools Foundation, click here. To learn more about the Take Stock in Children program, click here.

To see a complete photo gallery of this event and all of the graduates and new scholars, visit the OCSD Facebook page.