'Developing Talent': Seacoast Collegiate High School students earn royal title


Santa Rosa Beach's Jim Sumpter first began volunteering with the Duke of Edinburgh program in 2008 while living in Europe. As an experienced mountaineer, he took students to mountains in Norway as part of the adventurous journey requirement.

Published: Wednesday, June 11, 2014 at 10:14 AM.

How many high school students can say they have an award from the Duke of Edinburgh?

Since the beginning of this year, students at Seacoast Collegiate High School have the opportunity to work toward such an honor thanks to community leaders and volunteers.

In 1956, the Duke of Edinburgh program began in the United Kingdom . Over the past 50 years the program has expanded to more than 140 countries and territories, including 40 of the United States with more than 10,000 participants. The collegiate high school is the first charter school in the state of Florida to be approved to offer the program.

"The award was developed after World War II to get youth active in the community," said Jonathan D'Avignon, Seacoast principal. "At Seacoast, our key thing is developing talent. This program is another piece of the puzzle we can offer outside of academia."

The program is based around three levels: Bronze (ages 14 and up), Silver (ages 15 and up), and Gold (ages 16 and up). The first bronze class was launched with six tenth grade students on Jan. 1.

Students have a vested interest in the program because they tailor it themselves, setting up their own schedules and mentors, as well as sending biweekly reports. Each level is comprised of four tenets: community service, physical fitness, special skills, and an adventurous journey. As students progress to the next level, the time requirements for each activity increase.  Time spent on the program is separate from school.

"We have students volunteering at Alaqua, learning a new musical instrument at Ohana Records and shadowing administration personnel at Sacred Heart Hospital on the Emerald Coast ," said Jim Sumpter, Duke of Edinburgh Award Leader.

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