School Board acknowledges VFW Voice of Democracy & Patriot’s Pen award winners at regular meeting

VFW AWARD WINNERS: Pictured here are: School Board member Jason Catalano; Gabriella Coon, Paxton Middle School; Kaitlyn R. Christensen, Freeport Middle School; Milo D. Rasz, Freeport Middle School; Mehgan M Rogers, Walton High School. Not pictured: Jackson V Campbell, Walton High School. (Photo courtesy of the Walton County School District)

Story by JENNA BAILEY

On Jan. 7, 2020, the Walton County School Board (WCSB) met for their first regular meeting on the new year at the Tivoli Administrative Complex in DeFuniak Springs. 

Announcements — The meeting began with an award acknowledgement for the VFW Voices of Democracy and Patriot’s Pen recipients. Established in 1947, VFW’s Voice of Democracy audio-essay program provides high school students with the opportunity to express themselves through a democratic and patriotic-themed recorded essay. Voice of Democracy winners are 1st place Kaylee Aplin of Paxton High School; 2nd place Meghan Rogers of Walton High School (WHS); and 3rd place Jackson Campbell of WHS.

Each year more than 125,000 students in grades 6-8 enter the VFW’s Patriot’s Pen youth essay contest. The first-place winner from each state competes for national awards totaling $50,000, with each first-place state winner receiving a minimum of $500 at the national level. The national first-place winner wins $5,000 and an all-expense-paid trip to Washington, D.C., in March. The essay contest encourages young minds to examine America’s history, along with their own experiences in modern American society, by drafting a 300- to 400-word essay, expressing their views based on a patriotic theme chosen by the VFW Commander-in-Chief. Patriot’s Pen award winners are 1st place Milo Rasz of Freeport Middle School (FMS); 2nd place Gabriella Coon of Paxton Middle School; and 3rd place Kaitlyn Christensen of FMS. There to present at the meeting was VFW Post 4437 Commander Wade Wilmoth, Maj. USAF (ret.).

Opening Agenda — For the opening agenda, the school board approved the Jan. 7 regular meeting agenda; the Dec. 17, 2019 Construction Management Interviews minutes; the Dec. 17, 2019 ESE Upgrade workshop minutes; and the Dec. 17 regular meeting minutes. 

Consent Agenda — The board accepted all items on the consent agenda. The consent agenda consisted of three travel requests. First, a request for Freeport High School students to travel to St.Augustine, Fla. on Jan. 11-14, 2020 to tour the Florida School for the Deaf and the Blind. Second, request for approval of amended agenda item, Mossy Head School 5th Graders to travel to Orlando, Fla. on Jan. 16-17, 2020 to participate in an education sleepover at the SeaWorld Complex. Third, a request for approval for the South Walton High School (SWHS) History Club to travel to New Orleans, La. on Jan. 11-12, 2020 to tour historical sites.

Action Agenda — The action agenda began with a public hearing for an opportunity for public comment and subsequent School Board confirmation that Gail Smith, Jason Catalano, Kim Kirby, Marsha Winegarner and William Eddins travel to attend the 33rd Annual Day in the Legislature and Board of Directors’ Meeting, on Jan. 22-24, 2020 for official School Board business and that the travel complies with the rules of the State Board of Education. School Board Members; Catalano, Smith and Kirby will stay Jan. 22-23, 2020. School Board Members; Winegarner and Eddins will stay Jan. 22-24, 2020. Second and last for the action agenda, the board approved the school board members travel request to attend the 33rd Annual Day in the Legislature and Board of Directors’ Meeting.

Safety & Security — For this section of the meeting, the board approved an Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for the use of the Vision Church at Christian international as a reunification site in case of emergency.  

Finance Dept. — For the finance dept., the board approved of the Walton Academy financial statements for November and the Seaside Neighborhood School & Foundation November financial reports. 

Human Resources Dept. —  The board approved the Jan. 7, 2020 personnel recommendations and personnel addendum. 

Facilities & Construction Dept. — For this section of the meeting was a request for approval of an amendment to the professional services agreement with JRA Architects, Inc. for the ECTC Welding and HVAC Lab/ Triumph Grant. The board approved this item. 

The next regular Walton County School Board meeting will take place on Tuesday, Jan. 21, at 5 p.m. in the South Walton High School media center.