Bratt Second Graders Present ‘A Place In The Christmas Choir’

December 18, 2014

Bratt Elementary School second graders recently presented their Christmas musical  “A Place in the Christmas Choir”.

For a photo gallery, click here.

Photos by Blair Scott for NorthEscambia.com, click to enlarge.

Home For The Holidays: A Christmas Surprise

December 17, 2014

Two Escambia County elementary school students received a special surprise Tuesday. They thought their uncle was still deployed overseas in Japan, but he had a Christmastime surprise for second grader Penelope Saxton and her brother, kindergarten student Riley Saxton.

They were together in a classroom at Scenic Heights Elementary School when their uncle, Airman Ean Van Gemerden, popped in from an adjacent room. After a brief pause, they off running into the arms of their “Uncle E”.

Penelope was in tears, but she assured everyone that they were happy tears because her hero was home for the holidays.

Van Gemerden has been deployed on the USS George Washington homeported in Yokosuka, Japan, for the past two years and is home for Christmas with his family.

The family members had been in touch via occasional phone calls and Facebook posts, but this was his first chance to see – and hug – his little loved ones in a long time.

Ean Van Gemerden also attended Scenic Heights Elementary School, so having the reunion at the school seemed like a fun idea to his sister, Ayla Van Gemerden. Principal Mary Ellen Wiggins and staff were happy to assist her in the coordination of the surprise.

After the holidays, Airman Van Gemerden will be returning to Japan to crossdeck from the Washington to the USS Ronald Reagan. While Van Gemerden has enjoyed his time in the Navy so far, he said, “When when you travel far from home, you realize what you have been taking for granted and you really wish you were home.”

Pictured top: Ean Van Gemerden shares a welcome home hug with his niece and nephew, Penelope and Riley Saxton. Pictured inset: Penelope and Riley’s mother, Ayla Van Gemerden (holding their little brother),and Ean Van Gemerden’s mom, Sara Exner, look on. Pictured below: Van Germerden visits helps with a gingerbread project. Photos for NorthEscambia.com, click to enlarge.

Byrneville Students In Grades 3-5 Present Christmas Musical (With Gallery)

December 17, 2014

Byrneville Elementary School students in grades 3-5 presented their Christmas program – “Twinkle & Shine! A Musical That Celebrates the Light at the Top of the Tree” – Tuesday night at Northview High School.

For a photo gallery, click here.

For story and photos from Monday night’s grade K-2 performance, click here.

Photo by Raja Atallah for NorthEscambia.com, click to enlarge.

Byrneville K-2 Students Present Christmas Musical (With Gallery)

December 16, 2014

Students in grades K-2 at Byrneville Elementary School presented their annual Christmas musical “Toys: The Night They Come Alive” Monday night at Northview High School. Students in grades 3-5 will present their Christmas program at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday in the Northview theater.

For a photo gallery, click here.

NorthEscambia.com photos by Raja Atallah, click to enlarge.

In Hot Pursuit 5K Earns $10K For Sheriff’s Youth Ranch

December 16, 2014

The annual In Hot Pursuit 5K on Pensacola beach last month raised just over $10K for the Florida Sheriff’s Youth Ranch. Sheriff David Morgan presented the group with a check for$10,038.08 on Monday.

The mission of the Florida Sheriffs Youth Ranches is to prevent delinquency and develop strong, lawful, resilient, and productive citizens who will make a positive contribution to our communities for years to come. This charitable, non-profit agency was founded by the Florida Sheriffs Association and operates four residential campuses and two camping facilities. Additionally, it provides community-based services and family counselling to as many of Florida’s neglected, troubled children as funds will permit. This year, the Youth Ranches will serve more than 5,000 needy boys and girls.

The mission of the Florida Sheriffs Youth Ranches is to prevent delinquency and develop strong, lawful, resilient, and productive citizens who will make a positive contribution to our communities for years to come. This charitable, non-profit agency was founded by the Florida Sheriffs Association and operates four residential campuses and two camping facilities. Additionally, it provides community-based services and family counselling to as many of Florida’s neglected, troubled children as funds will permit. This year, the Youth Ranches will serve more than 5,000 needy boys and girls.

The In Hot Pursuit 5K was sponsored by NorthEscambia.com, Cox Cable, The Grand Marlin, Gulf Power, Edward Jones, John Peacock CFP, CRPC, Gulf Power, The Fraternal Order of Police, The Andrews Institute, Berney Office Solutions, Navy Federal Credit Union, Boost Mobile, May’s Construction, Gulf Winds Credit Union, Marianna Airmotive, The Sandshaker, Sake Café, The Independent News and News Talk WCOA Radio.

Photo for NorthEscambia.com, click to enlarge.

Local Students Place In Sub-District I FFA Competition

December 15, 2014

FFA members from three counties recently took part in the 2014 Sub-District I FFA Competition at Heritage Baptist Church in Cantonment.

Students can explore numerous career fields within agriculture by participating in Career Development Events known as CDEs, which focus on student success. Students spend many hours training for competition and receive assistance from their advisor, industry partners, alumni, and community stakeholders.

Results from the event were as follows:

High School Results
Prepared Public Speaking

  1. Mitchell Singleton – Northview FFA (Escambia)
  2. Sara Herrington – West Florida FFA (Escambia)
  3. Zach Rutherford – Central FFA (Santa Rosa)

Extemporaneous Speaking

  1. Tiffani Cruce – Northview FFA (Escambia)
  2. Erica Waters – Central FFA (Santa Rosa)

Creed Speaking

  1. Emalie Sharpe – West Florida FFA (Escambia)
  2. Rosemary Smyth – Tate FFA (Escambia)
  3. Emma Fennell – Ernest Ward FFA (Escambia)

Tractor Operation and Maintenance

  • Forrest Gibbs – Tate FFA (Escambia)
  • Joseph Roberts – Jay FFA (Santa Rosa)
  • Zach Rutherford – Central FFA (Santa Rosa)

Parliamentary Procedure

  1. Jay FFA (Santa Rosa)
  2. West Florida FFA (Escambia)
  3. Tate (Escambia)

Middle School Results

Prepared Public Speaking

  1. Lindsey Casey – Beulah FFA (Escambia)
  2. Olivia Key – Central FFA (Santa Rosa)

Extemporaneous Speaking

  1. Gabe Pfeuffer-Ferguson – Beulah FFA (Escambia)
  2. Kylie Schwarz – Central FFA (Santa Rosa)

Opening and Closing Ceremony

  1. Jay FFA (Santa Rosa)
  2. Ernest Ward (Escambia)
  3. Beulah (Escambia)

Parliamentary Procedure

  1. Jay FFA (Escambia)

Winning students and chapters are now among the top in the state and will advance to the 2015 District I FFA Competition.


Jay Plans Praise And Prayer Assembly At Nativity Scene

December 15, 2014

Residents of Jay and surrounding areas will hold a Praise and Prayer Assembly next Monday, December 22, at the Jay Nativity and Christmas Tree.

Called a “united community event” by organizers, the 5:30 p.m. event will feature Christmas readers, songs and prayer

After an attorney for the Wisconsin group from the Freedom From Religion Foundation sent a letter to the town claiming that a nativity display on public property is illegal, it was acquired by the Santa Rosa County Ministerial Association and moved to the corner of Commerce Street and Highway 4. [Read more...]

Rotary Tree Of Remembrance To Honor, Remember At Mall

December 14, 2014


The Rotary Tree of Remembrance is now on display inside the Dillard’s entrance to Cordova Mall. Shoppers have the opportunity to make a donation and place yellow ribbons on the Christmas tree in honor or remembrance of a loved one.

“The ribbons offer a simple but dignified and poignant way to remember their families and friends amid the hustle and bustle of the holiday season,” says Bambi Provost, director of the Sacred Heart Foundation. The Children’s Hospital at Sacred Heart is one of six beneficiaries of this fundraising effort, along with Gulf Coast Kids’ House, Covenant Hospice, Simon Youth Foundation, ARC Gateway and Rotary’s Camp Florida.

To conclude this year’s Second Annual Rotary Tree of Remembrance project, a non-denominational service will be held on Sunday, December 28, at 3 p.m. at the tree. Following the service, checks will be presented to the charities.

Pictured: The second annual Rotary Tree of Remembrance. Photos courtesy RustyBuggy.com for NorthEscambia.com, click to enlarge.

Angelic Voices: Mennonite Church Brings Christmas Joy To Children’s Hospital

December 13, 2014

Members of the Walnut Hill Mennonite Church spread Christmas joy Friday night with carols in the hallways and rooms at Sacred Heart Children’s Hospital in Pensacola. Photo for NorthEscambia.com, click to enlarge.

Gulf Power Employees Collect Toys, Bikes For Needy Kids

December 13, 2014

The Communities Caring at Christmas caravan streamed into the Gulf Power headquarters on Friday and collected hundreds of toys, bikes and other gifts  donated by Gulf Power employees.

The estimated total of all the donations is more than $29,000 from Gulf Power employees — including more than $12,000 in cash donations and 146 bicycles.

After collecting the gifts, the caravan headed to the Pensacola Interstate Fairgrounds to sort and process the gifts to be distributed to families and children in need.

Gulf Power employees raised money throughout the year through fundraisers, such as golf tournaments, bake sales and raffles.

“We know the holiday season can be a difficult time for many, so Communities Caring at Christmas is a great way to directly help those in need,” said Jeff Rogers, Gulf Power manager of Corporate Communications. “Every year our employees reach into their own pockets to help make sure as many children as possible have a great Christmas.”

Communities Caring at Christmas provides new toys, clothing and daily living needs for low income and abused, neglected and abandoned children living in foster care in Escambia, Santa Rosa, Okaloosa and Walton counties.

This is the 19th year Gulf Power and its employees have participated in Communities Caring at Christmas.

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