DESTIN — As the application deadline approaches for the first two classes of students in Destin High School history, a clearer picture is starting to emerge of the school's infrastructure and academic ambitions.
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What isn't clear is the number of students who have applied ahead of the Feb. 15 deadline — the DHS governing board would not give the exact number of students following a request by the Daily News for those statistics on Wednesday morning.
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"Our capacity is going to be about 300 to 350 (students), so we're almost near the halfway mark of that (with applications)," said DHS governing board member Myra Williams. "And the more eighth graders we talk to, we see those numbers go up, but we're very pleased."
Williams wouldn't give a specific number of applications — saying it was a "proprietary process" and that it "wouldn't help encourage enrollment" if the number was released. She added that Collaborative Education Network, a consulting firm hired by DHS to help in its process of opening, had the application numbers but the members of the governing board did not.
DHS has been subject to the Florida Sunshine Law related to open records since its charter school contract was approved by the Okaloosa County School District in October, which includes information such as school enrollment figures.
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Potential students have until Feb. 15 to apply to be part of the charter school's 9th and 10th grade classes for the 2020-21 school year, with the school moving to grades 9-12 in 2021-22.
Williams helped bring together the DHS governing board and the Collaborative Education Network, which is helping the school in its search for a principal, to collectively answer some of the more pressing questions about the school.
According to the DHS board and CEN, approximately $500,000 has been raised of the stated $2 million goal for Phase II of fundraising, part of which will go toward the down payment on the future location of DHS, Destin United Methodist Church. More fundraising information will be available after February's town hall meeting at Destin United Methodist Church, although no date has been set yet.
The search for the DHS principal is being led by CEN and just began "preliminary telephone interviews" with qualified candidates from a nationwide search.
Incorporating activities and sports will be a learning process for DHS, which said it "intends to become a member of the Florida High School Activities Association as soon as possible," but because of its charter school status, students enrolled at DHS may choose to participate at their zoned school in sports not initially offered by DHS.
With a regulation-sized gym, DHS will have the ability to offer indoor sports volleyball, basketball, cheerleading, wrestling and weightlifting right off the bat, although student interest may dictate which sports come to fruition first.
In regard to its curriculum, the DHS board and CEN stated the school will pursue becoming accredited as a prestigious, Advanced International Certificate Education school — a rigorous, varied, internationally-recognized academic program that allows students to earn up to 45 college credits while still in high school.
Students who earn AICE Diplomas in Florida also qualify for the Florida Bright Futures Scholarship.
"The program is an international curriculum and examination system whereby students gain in-depth understanding of a variety of subjects and master a broad range of critical skills," according to the DHS board and CEN. "AICE courses and diplomas are recognized by colleges and universities worldwide."