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What a magnificent honor that is bestowed upon the WCSD from the work, dedication and Exceptional Academic Performance of Sebastian Epplin!  He has been nominated/recommended by Congressman Matt Gaetz to attend the United States Naval Academy.  Mr. and Mrs. Epplin, SWHS Administration, Faculty-Staff and the entire WCSD is so extremely proud of Sebastian for his well rounded life that includes Lacrosse and many other Extracurricular Activities that accompany his academic prowess.  Go Do Great things Sebastian, we are with you 100%; It’s the Walton County Way!  #EPIC4wRd!!!!!

Last weekend, ECMS student Thomas Cook participated in the Florida All-State Middle School Band in Tampa. Thomas auditioned for the band back in September and was chosen along with 13 other trumpet players. He auditioned for chair placement on Thursday and earned first chair, naming him the top middle school trumpet player in the state! Congratulations, Thomas!

Reading supports children’s imagination and unlocks new worlds! The New Worlds Reading Initiative is a FREE book delivery program created to help K-5 students build at-home libraries and encourage a love for reading. For more info on eligibility, visit


COVID Update January 21, 2022

In the spirit of transparency, the Walton County School District (WCSD) will continue to update our stakeholders with COVID-19 data for the 2021-2022 school year. 

COVID-19 Statistics

Single Day Data


% of total population (students and staff ~ 13,000)

Overall Data to Date

(8/10/21 – 1/20/22)

% of total population (students and staff ~ 13,000)

Positive COVID-19 Cases

of School District Students and/or Employees






Quarantined Due to On Campus Exposure of School District Students and/or Employees






Quarantined Due to Off Campus Exposure (Community/Family Exposure) of School District Students and/or Employees






Schools Involved in Positive Cases and/or Exposure






Walton County School District COVID-19 Mitigation Strategies for the 2021-2022 School Year

  1. If a person is sick (students, teachers, staff, and visitors), they should stay home.
  2. Face covering is optional for all, including the bus.
  3. Hand sanitizer is available at various areas inside the school.
  4. Social distancing from others is encouraged as much as possible.
  5. Signs will be displayed to remind those in schools about social distancing, as well as the use of hand sanitizer, washing of hands, and face coverings.
  6. Cleaning and disinfecting school facilities/buses which are occupied by students will be done daily.
  7. Adequate mitigation supplies are on hand at all schools/facilities (hand sanitizer, disinfectant wipes, masks, etc.).
  8. COVID-19 vaccination is optional for all students and employees.
  9. COVID-19 contact tracing is occurring in all schools/facilities (2021-2022 WCSD Decision Tree for employees and students).
  10. At this time non-essential visitors and volunteers are not allowed to enter schools. This mitigation strategy will be revisited in the next few weeks.

*Please keep in mind that although COVID positive cases may represent a student or staff member within the WCSD, it does not necessarily indicate that the virus originated within the WCSD.  It is also important to note that a portion of the positive cases involve individuals who may have never entered the school setting while sick due to proper quarantining. 


It’s Brave to stay engaged in education on a daily basis and the Walton Braves were Fully engaged as the Superintendent made a visit to WHS.  Students are laser focused, having fun and the sense of pride was evident in the hallways, Science, reading, ELA and Early Childhood classrooms.  These Braves are Chopping at A Great Legacy that they are responsible for and working daily to build!  The Superintendent noted he took a selfie with one of his former students (Mrs. Hicks) now teaching her HS students; proud principal turned Superintendent moment.  He encouraged them all to go into education as he loved it so much then and now; those who did so are making us ALL SO PROUD!  Go Braves!!!!!

Kathryn Benson

Named Administrator of Magnet Programs

As the daughter of a teacher and a minister, Ms. Benson has been surrounded by education and people who passionately support it her entire life. She has served as a teacher in Florida and internationally on mission. During her time as a high school teacher and college instructor, she taught across multiple subject areas in remedial through advance courses, helping boost the high school’s grade and significantly improve its graduation rate by working tirelessly to serve her students’ best interests. After serving in the classroom, she was tapped for school administration to amplify her in support of every student within the school. As an administrator, Ms. Benson has worked as an Assistant Principal of both a middle school in Nassau County and elementary school in Marion County.  In her spare time, she enjoys traveling, supporting and participating in the arts, and cheering on her beloved Gators.


Ms. Benson shared, “I am thrilled to be a part of the Walton County School family and am excited to serve the students of the best school district in the state! I’ve been impressed with the remarkable achievements the students and staff of WCSD have accomplished under the inspiring leadership of Superintendent Hughes and his team. The paradigm WCSD had created in partnership with St. Joe for world-class magnet programming has astounding results.  These magnet programs bolster student engagement in relevant skill instruction that equips students to be the best candidates for college and career endeavors immediately upon graduation, which is life-changing for students and strengthens our phenomenal community even further. I very much look forward to cultivating partnerships with our community in the coming days, months, and years ahead as we soar to heights unparalleled together in service of our students.”


Please join Superintendent A. Russell Hughes in welcoming Ms. Kathryn “Kate” Benson to Walton County and the Magnet Innovation Center at St. Joe WaterSound.

The Freeport Middle School Art Department studied the art of zentangles.  When an artist is drawing zentangles, they find it very relaxing and meditative.  Students listened to Zen music and let go of their daily hustle and bustle while they focused on their art projects.

Congratulations to the following students for placing in this year’s contest. They were honored at the January 18 board meeting. 

Results of the 2021 Voice of Democracy 

1st Rylee K Sweat 

Walton High School

2nd Aubriyah B Smith

Walton High School

3rd Nicholas F Lee

South Walton High School


Results of 2021 Patriots Pen

1st. Lyla E Herring

Paxton High School

2nd Ruby A Stacy

Freeport Middle School

3rd Makayla Marie Colbeth

Freeport Middle School

Teacher of the Year Finalist

January 19, 2022

We are so elated that the following teachers have been selected first, by their colleagues at their school sites, and then secondly, have been designated as the top 3 from that distinguished group to compete and be observed by a non-bias committee to be selected as the Walton County School District Teacher of the Year 

Lance Climer – South Walton High School

Lora Brazile – Paxton School

Russell Phillips – Freeport High School

A committee looked over all the applications, accomplishments, and skills of those who were selected at their school sites. Now this committee is going to do a formal visit to the classrooms of Mr. Climer, Ms. Brazile, and Mr. Phillips, to see all that was written on paper, in real-time. The interaction that these teachers will have with their students, the engagement the student will be involved in, will help determine which of these three very phenomenal teachers will represent WCSD at the state level as Teacher of the Year.

We have had some great winners in past years and know this year’s winner is not going to be an exception to that greatness. We, the teachers, support staff, principals, and community, are excited to have this kind of representation on the wonderful campuses we have in Walton County.

Congratulations to the site-based winners on every campus!

Congratulations and good luck to those who have been selected in the top 3 and are now in the running for Walton County School District’s Teacher of the Year.