Student Spotlights – January 2024

The Montgomery Ballet presents “The Nutcracker”
Every month we compile a list of students and schools doing great things across our community.  We have so many talented students in our area.  Greater Pensacola Parents joins with these families and schools to celebrate their achievements!

Escambia County All-Star Academic Team

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In November, high schools in Escambia County sent their best and brightest to compete for a spot on the Escambia County All Star Academic Team. This year, students from four schools are represented: Escambia HS, Pensacola HS, Booker T. Washington HS, and Pine Forest HS.
The team practices weekly to prepare for the FHSAA sanctioned Commissioner’s Academic Challenge in April, which is the state’s premier academic competition. Escambia County has been state champion 7 times, most recently in 2018. In 2022, the team was state runner-up. The competition tests knowledge in language arts, history, math, science, technology, humanities, art, and foreign language.
Team members: Tyler Belcher (EHS), *Tristan Martinez (PHS), Alice Zhang (PHS), Megan Smith (PHS), **Beatrice Bunnell (BTWHS), *Patrick Beeman (BTWHS), Aiden Ripley (BTWHS), *Randall Goeghagan (PFHS). (* 2nd year on the team, ** 3rd year on the team)

Tate High, Beulah Academy Take Top Honors in FFA Forestry Competition

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Tate High School took home the top team honors in the District 1 FFA Forestry Career Development Event hosted last week by the Florida Forest Service. The competition at Hitzman-Optimist Park in Pensacola tested students’ skills in diagnosing forest disorders, managing forests and forest inventory, and applying approved silviculture practices.
Participants competed in measuring trees, map interpretation, identifying trees and equipment, and a test on general forestry knowledge. Tate High took top honors in the high school division, and a team from Beulah Academy of Science won first place in the middle school division.
Rounding out the top three in the high school division were Northview and Milton, while Beulah and Central closed out the middle school ranks.

Escambia County Public Schools Foundation Awards $100,000 in Grants

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The Escambia County Public Schools Foundation is awarding over $100,000 in grant funding to schools and teachers through its Grant for Excellence program.17 recipients, who focus on improving literacy and low graduation rates, are being awarded funds for the 2023-2024 school year. Grants are awarded between $2,000 to $7,500 for high-impact projects.
Grants for Excellence are funded by the Escambia County Public School Foundation and matching grant funds from the Consortium of Florida Education Foundations through the School District Education Foundation Matching Grant Program.
Grants for Excellence recipients for the 2023-2024 school year are:
LaceyBlackmon – Jim Allen Elementary School
LoriPerkins – McArthur Elementary School
KristinMaum – J.M. Tate High School
ShannonRowe – Scenic Heights Elementary School
StephanieOdom – Montclair Elementary School
BrookeFerrara – Beulah Elementary School
RobertaWetzel – Jim C. Bailey Middle School
MollyO’Connor – Roy Hyatt Environmental Center
JenniferKemp – C.A. Weis Elementary
JuliaBritt – Bellview Middle School
YohanaLopez – Ensley Elementary School
SabraKuhlman – Holm Elementary School
ElizabethGreenberg – Montclair Elementary School
MeganCurrie – Scenic Heights Elementary School
RebeccaHatch – Molino Park Elementary School
SuzanneDeLay – ECPS Math and Science Department
StaceyDuncan – McArthur Elementary School

Pensacola High Students Honored by CivicCon

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Audrey Foss and Dylan Patterson of Young Citizens Development were Recently honored by CivicCon. Audrey and Dylan are International Baccalaureate seniors at Pensacola High School who are on the mock trial team and have an interest in civic engagement. They felt inspired to bring civic education to middle schoolers in Escambia County after seeing the tumultuous political climate we currently live in. Their Young Citizens Development Program uses classroom education and an essay contest to teach students the importance of being active members of their community. Together they are providing our young people a firm foundation on which they can help build a better community for all.

Three ECPS High Schools Earn Advanced Placement Honor Roll Recognition

Three ECPS high schools were recently awarded Advanced Placement (AP) Honor Roll Recognition by the College Board. Pensacola High School earned Gold status, while Booker T. Washington High School and West Florida High School earned Bronze status. “We are always thrilled when we see our high schools recognized for their tremendous work,” said ECPS Director of High Schools Lesa Morgan. “When we are celebrating something like Advanced Placement, however, we get even more excited, as these courses offer our students the opportunity to earn valuable college credits while enrolled in our schools.” Schools were rated on college culture, college credit earned, and college optimization. To qualify for the 2023 AP School Honor Roll, schools must meet or exceed the criteria for a given recognition level for all three metrics. Additional information about the AP School Honor Roll can be found on AP Central.

Pensacola Catholic High Annual Food Drive

Pensacola Catholic High School collected more than 30,000 non-perishable food items and $2,750 in donations from October 30 – November 16 by students, with the assistance of their parents, faculty, and staff, for the school’s Annual Thanksgiving Food Drive.  The Student Council, moderated by English Teacher Julie Remke, spearheaded the Food Drive working closely with all faculty members.  Items collected were given to the St. Vincent DePaul food pantry, as well as the St. Joseph Food Pantry.  This project is a great way for students to live out Catholic High’s Core Values of Selfless Love and Commitment to Service, as these donations will no doubt make a big difference in the lives of families all across our community!

Escambia County School District Receives $1.5 Million Grant for Innovating Gaming Program

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Escambia County Public Schools has new funding centered on gaming and military-connected students. The $1.5 million grant comes from the U.S. Department of Defense Education Activity. The program exposes kids to technology, teamwork, competition, and diversity.

Santa’s Elves at Pensacola Catholic High School

Pensacola Catholic High School has a special relationship with their Partners-in-Education Schools, Oakcrest Elementary and the Global Learning Academy. Students from CHS help with school projects throughout the year including Fall Festivals, Halloween Reading Days, Spring Field Days and other special projects that might come up, but one of the favorite activities each year is being an extra “elf” for Santa. Students collect Christmas stockings that are put together for EACH child who attends these schools. Through the years this ranges anywhere from 750-900 stockings, and the Catholic High family never disappoints! This year students collected 1,150 stockings filled with small toys, games, coloring books, flash cards, etc. that will be delivered to the administration at the schools who will oversee this distribution of the stockings to their students, ensuring that every child will receive one for Christmas.

Pennies for Pets Donation Drive Wraps Up for 2023 at Ensley Elementary School

Ensley Elementary School recently presented a check for $2,000.64 to the Pensacola Humane Society. The money was raised throughout the month of October during the school’s annual Pennies for Pets Donation Drive. Regina Smolensky, Pennies for Pets School Coordinator at Ensley, who has also been a loyal volunteer at the Pensacola Humane Society for many years, organized the project. Mrs. Smolensky wants to thank all the faculty/staff, students, and families at Ensley Elementary School, members of the Escambia County Public Schools, and everyone in the community for their generous donations.

East Hill Christian School Participates in MATHCOUNTS

EHCS is participating for its second year in a row in MATHCOUNTS! MATHCOUNTS is a national middle school mathematics competition that builds problem-solving skills and fosters achievement through four levels of fun, in-person “bee” style contests. Our local NWFL Chapter competition will be at the downtown library on February 10, 2024.
Our 2023-2024 MATHCOUNTS team meets once a month in person for practice, and they solve weekly challenge problems virtually to compete for prizes from the coach. Our team captain is Austin Lujan, a returning mathlete. Our members are Campton Hudspeth (a returning mathlete), Ellie Wolfe, Ethan Dorn, Sam Lujan, and Wilder Burlison.
Last year we had 2 team members, pictured to the left, that made it all the way to the State Competition in Orlando, FL!

Greater Pensacola Figure Skating Club Performs Holiday Ice Show

Greater Pensacola Figure Skating Club performed their first ever Holiday Ice Show, “Merry & Bright, A Skating Spectacular” on December 10 to a crowd of approximately 500 at the Pensacola Bay Center. Along with a hippopotamus, Santa and the Grinch, 23 skaters performed to everyone’s favorite holiday tunes. Following the show, introductory lessons were offered along with a chance to skate with Santa and the Grinch. Another opportunity to participate in an introductory lesson is in the works for “National Skating Month” in January.
Originally formed in 1996, the organization is a member of Learn to Skate USA and US Figure Skating. As a local, volunteer run 501(c)3, GPFSC is dedicated to growing amateur and recreational ice sports in our community. With a focus on bringing year round ice to the Gulf Coast, the organization is working to remove participation barriers so that EVERYONE can have ice access and learn to skate.

Redeemer Lutheran School

Do you know what to do in case of a fire? The Redeemer Lutheran School kids do! They were able to participate in a fire safety demonstration from a real life firefighter that also just happens to be one of the amazing RLS parents. Not only did they learn fire safety skills, they were also able to check out the firefighter gear as their teacher tried it all on. We all feel a little safer knowing we have fire safety aficionados in our midst.

Pensacola Catholic High School Wins the First “Bishop’s Cup”

The Pensacola Catholic High School Varsity Football Team ended their regular season play on November 3 with a game against St. John Paul II High School from Tallahassee in the first ever meeting of the two schools in a varsity game. There are only two Catholic high schools in the Diocese of Pensacola-Tallahassee. To commemorate this competition, a trophy was created that will be passed back and forth between the schools following this competition and future meetings of the two teams. Pensacola Catholic High School won the first ever “Bishop’s Cup” and Bishop William Wack presented Coach Matt Adams and the team with the trophy for display. The Varsity Football Team ended their regular season with a record of 8-2 and are moved on to post-season play. Way to go, Crusaders!

Montessori School Pensacola Share in Abundant Snack

Annually before school gets out for Fall Break, the Montessori School of Pensacola Lower Elementary students gather on the basketball court to create a cornucopia of snacks together. A cornucopia is also called the horn of plenty. This tradition dates back to ancient Greece and is a symbol of abundance and nourishment. It is most commonly a large horn-shaped container that is overflowing with fruits, vegetables, flowers, and other treats. At MSP, each Lower Elementary student may bring in something to contribute to this communal snack creation. The foods are combined, not in a horn, but in a large plastic tub, to be able to create the mass creation. They sit and watch as students add their ingredients to the mix and take the time to discuss things for which they are grateful. It is a fun and unique way to come together with over 60 students and share in a joyful snack feast!

Student Success with Creative Learning Academy’s Project DrayKon

Creative Learning Academy’s Middle School students embark on a unique intellectual journey each year through the annual cross-curricular culmination assignment known as Project DrayKon. The beginning of this initiative stemmed from keen observations by the middle school team at CLA. They noticed a gap in students’ academic writing skills – it lacked meaning and ownership for them. Additionally, research methods weren’t receiving the emphasis they deserved, leaving students struggling to discern false information online. The team also acknowledged limited opportunities for public speaking and misalignment in the Humanities curriculum. Thus, Project DrayKon emerged as a comprehensive solution, focusing on academic writing, student choice, engagement, research strategies, identification of false information, plagiarism awareness (particularly in the age of Chat GPT), student presentations, creativity, and collaborative input from humanities teachers.
Project DrayKon stands as a testament to CLA’s commitment to integrated education. The project challenges students to embark on a journey of self-discovery and academic integrity. Students choose a topic of personal interest, navigating a meticulously designed project checklist, ensuring they meet project due dates, point values, and expectations. With a special emphasis on historically marginalized groups, students delve into a 6-8 page research paper, exploring innovative genres to “make history current.” Students inject a physical component of their research by creating artifacts related to their chosen topic. The pinnacle of this academic quest lies in defending their work before a faculty panel composed of members from the CLA Middle School Team. This defense not only showcases their in-depth knowledge of history standards associated with their topic but also instills the invaluable skill of articulating their ideas with confidence.
At the heart of Project DrayKon is the understanding that this assignment goes beyond the classroom. It prepares CLA’s middle school students not only for the challenges of high school but also for the rigors of college. The exposure to such a multifaceted assignment not only sharpens academic skills but nurtures creativity, critical thinking, and a sense of ownership in learning. As CLA continues to pioneer innovative approaches to education, Project DrayKon emerges as a beacon guiding students toward a future where they are not just learners but active contributors to their academic journey.

1 Million Book Giveaway Project at Aletheia Christian Academy

Chick-Fil-A Leader Academy students at Aletheia Christian Academy completed their “1 Million Book Giveaway” project by bringing books and reading with 2nd grade students at S.S. Dixon Primary School in Pace. Afterwards, they stopped by The Ronald McDonald House to bring more books to families staying at the facility and did some cleaning for this wonderful organization. They were rewarded with a box lunch from the Chick-Fil-A on Bayou Blvd. Great job, Lions!

Food Dress-Up Day at Montessori School Pensacola

On early dismissal Fridays, Montessori School of Pensacola students get invited to take part in a Fun Dress-Up Day. In November, on Friday before the school’s Fall Break, students got out midday and had the opportunity to dress as food. Between the two MSP campuses, there was a huge variety of food represented. Popcorn, hamburger, cupcake, grapes, and strawberry: just to name a few! Students in Preschool through 8th grade take part. In conjunction with the Food Fun Day, students may also bring food in for Manna Food Pantries. All week, families bring in non-perishable items for Manna. On Friday, food is delivered to the Manna Mayflower Truck filling location. This year, MSP was able to deliver three full carloads!

Outdoor Art at Aletheia Christian Academy

Aletheia Christian Academy elementary students left the traditional paintbrushes in the classroom and headed outside to gather and paint with acorns! Layers of paint were added to their collection of acorns as they shook and created their fall scape papers. Many of the students remarked that their paintings reminded them of the famous artist Jackson Pollock! A day of art outside and in the sun, celebrating His goodness!

St. Paul Catholic School Christmas Play

St. Paul Catholic School Musical Theater elective students put on a wonderful production of Back to the Manger as a culmination to their hard work all semester! Students began preparing in August and had a hand in everything – not just as cast members, but as set and costume designers, and sound and light producers! The cast traveled through time on a fun musical adventure that ultimately reminded them all of the true meaning of Christmas, Jesus and his love for us.

Pine Meadow Elementary Hosts ‘Donuts with Dad’

Pine Meadow Elementary School recently hosted “Donuts with Dad”. Dads had a chance to attend and enjoy doughnuts with their children.

Book Fair at Little Flower

The St. Paul Catholic School Student Council invited all Veterans in our school community to a special flag retirement ceremony before Veterans’ Day. Student Council members led the ceremony to properly retire worn, tattered, or damaged flags. We honor all who have served or continue to serve our country.

Bratt Elementary Has Fun with Creatures

The Auburn University Raptor Center visited Bratt Elementary School on Monday, November 13. The program included a demonstration of several species of raptors, including an eagle, a falcon, an owl, and a vulture. The students learned about the natural history and ecological roles of these birds. The program was sponsored by the Bratt Elementary PTA. It was an outstanding experience for Bratt students.

Western Day at Aletheia Christian Academy

Third grade students at Aletheia Christian Academy celebrated the completion of their social studies unit on the West with a Western Day. Students came dressed in their best cowboy and cowgirl getups and enjoyed a day of square dancing and pony races. Giddyup!

Didgeridoo Music Wows Montessori School Pensacola Students

Montessori School of Pensacola was excited to welcome the captivating touring program, Didgeridoo Down Under. They perform music that is entertaining and educational.
The didgeridoo has been played by Aboriginal Australians for at least 1,500 years, and is known for a unique sound like no other instrument. Didgeridoo Down Under plays this unique music for students in a way that is interactive, motivational, and fun!
Students at MSP got to see and hear a variety of didgeridoos, as well as percussion instruments. Education was done throughout the program by the presenter’s use of props like stuffed animals and signs that showed artwork and words. Students got a chance to dance and act out a story.

Blue Angels Visit St. Paul Catholic School

The Blue Angels paid a special visit to St. Paul Catholic School in November! Lead Solo, LCDR Griffin Stangel fielded questions from middle school students after showing a Blue Angels video. The Blue Angels spent time in the elementary classrooms reading to the kids and answering lots of questions!

St. Paul Catholic School Pep Rally

SPCS sent our Spartan athletes into the playoffs with a school-wide pep rally! Eighth grade cheerleaders and football players were especially celebrated as it is their last season at St. Paul. Go Spartans!


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