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 Longleaf Writers Conference – “Writers in the Classroom”

During the second week of May the Longleaf Writers Conference gathers in Walton County with a clear vision:

1. To bring the Gulf Coast a unique opportunity for writers of all backgrounds to meet and learn and grow alongside contemporary literary masters of genre and form.

2. To provide financial aid for emerging writers and veterans and under-represented writers and to be a springboard for their careers.

3. To develop and sustain the “Writers in the Classroom” outreach program sending fellows and scholars to Walton County schools in order to reveal the value of literature and writing. 

4. To make this conference an exemplum of what a small conference should look like by creating a community of writers and poets without any sense of hierarchy or professional competition.

On May 13, 2021 seven fellows and scholars participated in the “Writers in the Classroom” outreach program. This year we had the privilege of working with South Walton High School, Freeport High School and Walton High School. Our fellows and scholars worked with each high school for over 90 minutes to develop an authentic writing work, ranging from poetry to prose. Each student group was given the opportunity to revise, re-draft and polish their original work with their fellow or scholar; culminating with the prospect of reading their work on the final day of the conference. This year three students read their original works on Sunday, at Seaside Assembly hall. Two students from Walton High School and one student from South Walton High School.

On May 14, 2021 three McBride scholarship students from the Colorado School of Mines, visited and spoke with students at the Magnet Innovation Center (MIC). The undergraduate students had an open forum to discuss topics ranging from the university admissions process for STEAM programs and time management within a rigorous college program such as organic chemistry, computer science and chemical engineering. Over 25 MIC students participated in the forum.

In 2013, Jonathan D’Avignon, principal at Walton In”10”sity School of Excellence, founded the Longleaf Writers Conference in collaboration with Dr. Seth Tucker, professor at Colorado School of Mines and Dr. Matt Bondurant, professor at University of Mississippi. Since 2013, the Longleaf Writers Conference has worked with over 1000 Walton County students. For more details please visit

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Last week the second through fifth graders at Dune Lakes Elementary participated in The Life & Legacy Tour featuring Wendy Rodrigue to celebrate the art work of George Rodrigue and his paintings of Blue Dog. The event was sponsored by the Mattie Kelly Arts Foundation and made possible in part by the St. Joe Community Foundation.  

Due to the amazing success of last summer’s Launch into STEM Fun! event, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in collaboration with the Panhandle Area Educational Consortium is offering Launch into STEM Fun 2.0! this summer. We hope you will join us for EPIC learning, fun, and amazing STEM Career presentations, including NASA Astronaut Wendy Lawrence (Captain, US Navy, Retired). 

Click the link below for dates and times.

No Time Lost at DLE!

May 14, 2021

Superintendent Hughes stopped in to do is last pick up of the year at DLE.  No time lost academically as teachers did math questions for students as they were waiting for parents to arrive!  EPIC until the last minute of the last day!  #GainedOn!!!

The Magnet Innovation Center (STEM School) was at its best with various activities!  Alg 2, Spanish 1, Engineering & Photo Shop Exams were all in full function!  There is NO PLACE like THIS PLACE!  Creating the future is the job of these teachers & students!  #GainedON!!!!

Mandalas at FMS!

May 13, 2021

The Freeport Middle School Art Department studied the art of making Mandala's.  Way to go Bulldogs!

Eyes Wide Open

May 11, 2021

Our fuzziest little Warriors have opened their eyes!  Our students have enjoyed watching the ag department's bunnies grow and change.  Aren't they adorable?

This past Friday, 5/7/21 was National School Lunch Hero Day.  It was a great day at Paxton.  The elementary students made cards, while the Pre-K provided treat bags and flowers for the Lunchroom Staff.  Paxton PTO also made a yard sign to display in front of the school. 

Each year, Walton Middle School hosts a lofty reading challenge.  This year, ninety-nine Warriors met the Warrior Strong Reading Challenge’s requirements, earning a field trip to Dave and Buster’s.  On Friday, April 30th, the fun arcade at Pier Park in Panama City Beach shut down to everyone except these Warriors.  All students who attended went home last Friday with armloads of loot.  We are so proud of these students for picking up books and crushing goals.

West DeFuniak First Graders Visit Emerald Coast Zoo

       On Friday April 30th, the First Graders of West DeFuniak Elementary visited the Emerald Coast Zoo in Crestview. These students spent the day learning about a variety of wildlife found right here in our area and from around the world! This hands-on adventure has left these students excited to learn more about the world around them, as well as inspiring them to appreciate and take care of our environment!