Cox Charities Awards Grants To Three Escambia Schools

June 5, 2022

Cox Communications employees have awarded eight grants to local schools, through Cox Charities Innovation in Education Grants. The program provides employee funded grants of up to $2,500 for classroom programs and curriculum that encourage and promote students’ ingenuity and imagination. Earlier this year, nearly 40 applications were submitted by schools in Escambia and Okaloosa Counties.

Cox Charities Innovation in Education grant recipients included the following in Escambia County:

Beulah Elementary School – Bringing Reading to Life ($500) – This program will help third graders transition learning by helping them better comprehend the stories they ready by providing them with engaging experiences and discussions. The class will develop projects and activities based on the books they read and discuss.

Escambia Westgate School – Westgate Sensory Picture Book Walk ($1,200) - The Sensory Picture Book Walk for the entire student population at Escambia Westgate will be an innovative way to meet many of students’ complex sensory needs, while also providing them educational activity. The multisensory component of this program will maximize the participation and engagement of our students with unique learning needs. To create this program, laminated pages from a picture book would be attached to signposts. The signposts would be placed along a winding path through our sensory garden at Westgate. As the students complete one page, they can move through the garden on to the next page of the story. The display book will be updated 3 to 4 times throughout the year, to provide a new story.

West Florida High School – Escambia County Living Shorelines Program ($2,000) - This coastal habitat restoration project is a collaboration between West Florida High School and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP). Marine Science students are teaming up with the Agricultural Sciences Academy to multiply and propagate emergent vegetation for planting in environmentally sensitive shoreline areas along the Gulf Coast. The partnership between FDEP and WFHS began as a program to engage youth of our area in making a positive environmental impact through mitigating shoreline erosion, creating habitat for marine life, and filtering out pollution. Through this grant students will: 1) Develop an understanding of shoreline ecology 2) Successfully propagate three species of emergent halophyte plants and, 3) Participate in a shoreline restoration planting.

Cox Charities is 100 percent funded by local employees through payroll deductions. A committee of 13 Gulf Coast employees then reviewed and chose grant recipients based on the amount of funding available.

Pictured: Beulah Elementary School was the recipient of a $500 Cox Charities grant. Photo for, click to enlarge.

Take Stock in Children Awards $242,000 In Scholarships To Escambia Graduates

June 3, 2022

Take Stock in Children and the Escambia County Public Schools Foundation awarded $242,000 in scholarships at a recent “Graduation & Unsung Hero Celebration”.

The event honored 19 graduating seniors who each received four-year tuition scholarships and a laptop computer. Also recognized were all of the volunteer mentors of our students and scholarship donors.

The 2022 Take Stock in Children graduates are:

Northview High
Miyhanna Davidson
Jonathan Gibbs
Paige Gibbs

Pensacola High
LaDarrien Kimble
Aidan Sidner-Palafox

Pine Forest High
Jakiah Henderson-Young
Jaydah Lett,
Makia Samuel

Washington High
Adrianna Blackmon
Abbie Brunson
Chelsea Hotopp
Rebecca KurauWilliam Ngo

West Florida High
Madison Hayes
Centyah Moye
Tho Pham
Matthew Setzer
Harley Walker

Okaloosa County transfer Malik Williams was also honored.

Take Stock in Children was established in 1995 as a non-profit organization in Florida operating locally under the Escambia County Public Schools Foundation. The program provides a unique opportunity for deserving low-income students to escape the cycle of poverty through education. Students are selected through a need-based application process in middle school, and comprehensive services continue through high school and include the students’ transition into college. Students receive college scholarships, caring volunteer mentors, college readiness skills, and hope for a better life.

Scholarships are funded through a unique public-private fundraising model in which local scholarship donations are matched by the Florida Prepaid College Foundation when scholarships are purchased each year. Laptops were donated through a program founded by Nick & Nathan Gupta and currently coordinated by Aiden Hayward.

Pictured top: From Northview High School, Take Stock in Children mentor Craig Exner, and students Miyhanna Davidson, Jonathan Gibbs, and Paige Gibbs. Pictured below: Members of the Take Stock in Children Class of 2022. Photos for, click to enlarge.

Tate High Names Students Of The Month For April And May

June 1, 2022

Tate High School has named their Students of the Month of the final months of the school year.

May Students of the Month were Vanessa Lopez and Savionne Jones (pictured above).

April Students of the Month were Abigail Conn and Larry Blanton (pictured below).

Photos for, click to enlarge.

Jim Allen Elementary Names Students Of The Month

May 31, 2022

Jim Allen Elementary School recently named Students of the Month. They are Trevor Wilson-Crews and Weston Frantz. Photo for, click to enlarge.

Ernest Ward Student Winners Named In ‘Why I Love America’ Essay Contest

May 29, 2022

Cantonment Masonic Lodge #322 recently sponsored a “Why I Love America” essay contest at Ernest Ward Middle School.

Christian Caraway, Lexi Smallwood, Felix Soileau and Dawson Portwood were the essay contest winners and presented with certificates.

Pictured above: (L-R) \Felix Soileau, Dawson Portwood, Lexi Smallwood and Christian Caraway. Photo for, click to enlarge.

Mira Awards Honor Creative High School Students

May 29, 2022

Escambia County Public Schools Foundation recently recognized local high school seniors for their creative and artistic talents through the annual Mira Awards.

Mira, meaning “brightest star,” was conceived by a group of teachers at Tate High School in 1987.  Since then, the Mira Awards have been expanded to all Escambia County high schools.  Students receive a custom medallion to wear with their cap and gown at graduation.

Beth Partington, who has chaired the Mira Awards ceremony for the past eight years, believes, “It is so important to honor students who excel in the arts.  Their creativity, dedication, and talents are often overlooked, yet their contributions add a great deal to everyone’s lives and the high school experience.  The Foundation enjoys celebrating these exceptional high school seniors each year.”

This year, the following 74 local high school seniors received Mira Awards:

Escambia High School

Jasmine Collings, Kadence Vanlandingham (Band), Ty Jones (Chorus), Sara Jones (Drama), Charlotte Paolini (Orchestra), Selma Millan (Visual Arts)

Northview High

Adrianne Shanks (Band), Addison White (Creative Writing), Kinzey Powell (Culinary Arts), Hunter Borelli (Graphic Arts), Dallon Rackard (Graphic Design), Jesse Hughes (Journalism), Mia Starns (Photography), Benjamin Rowinsky (Video Design), Madison Watson (Visual Arts), Paige Ross (Visual Design), Anna Adams, Shelby Cotita (Yearbook)

Pensacola High School

Christian McClung (Chorus), Miyauna Copeland (Culinary Arts), Scott Grove, Vitus Larrieu, Steven Rhodes (Drama), Aniya Knight (Graphic Arts), Ezra Baker, Gracie Collins, Abigail Prettyman (Instrumental Music), Isabel Green (Orchestra), Wren Harwell (Photography), Colin Gold (Yearbook)

Pine Forest High School

Kiaeante Hill (Band), Emmie Sasser (Chorus), Thomas Welch (Culinary Arts), Karriema Jones (Design Services Academy), Daniel Jennings (Digital Media), Hailee Hatcher (Photography), Nina Burt (Visual Arts), Dontreal Hines (Yearbook)

Tate High School

Holly Phillips, Carter Pitts, Melissa Schauer (Band), Rose Geinert, Emily Payne (Chorus), Hunter Brumfield, Elias Ray (Drama), Gabrielle Gryskiewicz, Jordan Rinker (Orchestra), Vanessa Lopez, Megan Morris (Visual Arts), Dylainie Charlery (Yearbook)

Washington High School

Kaleb Aymond, Adrianna Blackmon, Michaela Hartley (Band), Alexia Ben, Minh Nguyen, Caitlin Sanderson (Chorus), Samuel Brown, Jovaney Sutherland (Orchestra), Kaitlyn Roe (Theatre), Michaela Luescher (Theatre and Visual Arts), Cassady Hawkins, Yu’miya Walker (Visual Arts)

West Florida High School

Kyla Barrett, Grace Coleman (Band), Arjerne Arrington (Drama-Performance Excellence), William Rabon, Mia Zareck (Multimedia-Graphic Design), Chloe Rabin (Orchestra-Exceptional Leadership), Thien-Loc Uc (Orchestra-Performance Leadership), Mason Mott (Photographic Journalism), Teana Henderson (Theatre-Exceptional Leadership), Fariha Fairooz, Braxton Wickersham (Visual Arts), Micayla Jesse (Yearbook-Graphic Design)

Byrneville Elementary School Names Students Of The Month

May 26, 2022

Byrneville Elementary School recently named their May Students of the Month.

They are:

  • Kindergarten — London Mixon and Kylo Davis
  • 1st Grade — Hexten Dykes and Blake Mathis
  • 2nd Grade — Patrick Quinnelly and Kahlan Davis
  • 3rd Grade — Ivyonna Adkins and Trendell Johnson
  • 4th Grade — Jayden Carter and Bentley Sanders
  • 5th Grade — Landon Barrow and Ian Therrell

Photo for, click to enlarge.

IP Donated Butterfly Kits To 631 Classrooms In Escambia And Santa Rosa

May 25, 2022

International Paper, in partnership with Celebrate Planet Earth, provided 631 kindergarten through fourth grade classrooms in Escambia and Santa Rosa counties with free butterfly and sunflower kits, enabling local children to experience the wonder of nature.

Schools received their kits March through May, and students had the opportunity to witness caterpillars undergo metamorphosis over the course of two to three weeks. Once the butterflies emerged, students fed them sugar-water for about a week before experiencing the delight of releasing them into the world. Students also learned how to sprout and grow sunflowers from seed to bloom.

The butterfly and sunflower kits were distributed to 27 schools:

  • Bagdad Elementary School
  • Bellview Elementary School
  • Berryhill Elementary School
  • Beulah Elementary School
  • Blue Angels Elementary School
  • Bratt Elementary School
  • Capstone Academy – Milton
  • Central School
  • Creative Learning Academy
  • East Milton Elementary School
  • Ensley Elementary School
  • Episcopal Day School
  • Gulf Breeze Elementary School
  • Jim Allen Elementary School
  • Kingsfield Elementary School
  • Lincoln Park Elementary School
  • Lipscomb Elementary School
  • Longleaf Elementary School
  • McArthur Elementary School
  • Molino Park Elementary School
  • N. B. Cook Elementary School
  • Oriole Beach Elementary School
  • Pine Meadow Elementary School
  • Pleasant Grove Elementary School
  • S.S. Dixon Primary
  • W. H. Rhodes Elementary School
  • West Navarre Primary

“We are committed to improving the communities along the greater Gulf Coast, and we aim to be responsible stewards of our planet,” said Scott Taylor, Pensacola Mill manager. “We are proud to offer this learning experience to the young students in our surrounding communities and hope it instills in them a respect for our planet.”

Pictured: Students enjoy butterflies at Kingsfield Elementary School (above) and Molino Park Elementary (below). Photos for, click to enlarge.

Lunar Astronaut Candidates Train at NAS Pensacola

May 24, 2022

Seven NASA astronaut candidates are undergoing flight training at Naval Air Station Pensacola as part of a two-year training pipeline to prepare them for participation in the Artemis lunar exploration program.

The NASA Astronaut Candidate Basic Aviation Curriculum (ASCAN BAC) is administered by Training Air Wing Six (TW-6), which is responsible for the training and production of the Naval Flight Officers (NFOs) who serve as navigators, sensor operators, Weapons System Officers, and Electronic Warfare Officers inside naval aviation.

“ASCAN training is only conducted every three to four years and is very condensed compared to Student Naval Flight Officer training,” said TW-6 Ground Training Officer Mr. John Boman, who oversees the ASCAN training at NAS Pensacola. “ASCANs are in class up to 12 hours per day, or they are scheduled for two flight events per day.”

The ASCAN BAC is designed for candidates without prior military aviation training. It aims to provide students with the knowledge, skills, and abilities required to safely aviate, navigate, and communicate in preparation for follow-on training and responsibilities as NASA flight crew.

“Given the mental aptitude of these individuals, our instructors are able to introduce and practice procedures and skill sets at a quicker pace, which allows us to meet NASA specified training timelines. They have been a pleasure to work with, and knowing that TW-6 helps to put them into space is very rewarding,” said Mr. Boman.

The class includes United States candidates Christina Birch, Andre Douglas, Deniz Burnham, Christopher Williams, and Anil Menon, who were chosen from a field of more than 12,000 applicants, as well as international candidates Nora Al Matrooshi and Mohammad Al Mulla of the United Arab Emirates.

Upon arrival at NAS Pensacola, the ASCANs underwent a one-week Aviation Physiology and Aircrew Water Survival training conducted by the Naval Survival Training Institute. They then began the 10-week ASCAN BAC, which is divided into two stages, familiarization and instrument navigation.

The familiarization stage is comprised of ground school, four simulator events, and five flight events in the T-6A Texan II turboprop trainer aircraft. The instrument navigation stage is comprised of ground school, six simulator events, and six flight events also flown in the T-6A.

Several of the ASCANs are now completing flight events in the instrument navigation stage.

According to police helicopter pilot Mohammad Al Mulla, Navy Aircrew Water Survival Training was a new challenge despite his 15 years of flight experience.

“It was a really good challenge. I felt like after accomplishing Water Survival I’m more comfortable flying, even offshore. I felt really good after passing. I’m really glad to be here and learning from the Navy,” Al Mulla said.

Dr. Anil Menon, who has served as a flight surgeon for NASA, Space X, and the U.S. Air Force, says he is grateful for the quality of training provided by the Navy.

“I did general aviation and I’ve paid for myself to learn how to fly and learn from instructors, but I’ve never encountered instructors as good as the Navy instructors that I’ve worked with. I’ve just learned that there’s a next level to aviation, so it really opened up a lot of doors for me and I’m grateful for those teachers,” Menon said.

In addition to safe operation of a jet aircraft, ASCANs have four major categories of training including operating and maintaining the International Space Station’s systems, preparing for spacewalks, developing complex robotics skills, and Russian language skills.

Deniz Burnham, who serves as a lieutenant in the U.S. Navy Reserves and holds degrees in chemical and mechanical engineering, says as the team nears the end of their training at NAS Pensacola, they look forward to the next challenge.

“We’ll be moving on to the T-38 back in Houston. The T-6 training gave us a good baseline for crew resource management, checklist discipline, procedural recall…this is kind of the foundation to being a value-added team member, and we all look forward to moving on from Pensacola back to Houston,” Burnham said.

The Artemis program aims to put the next man, first woman, and first person of color on the moon in 2024 and to establish a sustainable human presence on the moon by the end of the decade. These accomplishments will in turn prepare humanity for the next step of solar exploration: sending humans to Mars.

story by Ensign Lyndsay Ballew

Pictured: NASA astronaut candidates Christina Birch, Andre Douglas, Deniz Burnham, Christopher Williams, Anil Menon, Nora Al Matrooshi and Mohammad Al Mulla stand beside a T6-A Texan II at Naval Air Station Pensacola. The astronaut candidates began Basic Aviation Curriculum at Training Air Wing Six in late March as part of a two-year training pipeline in preparation for serving the Artemis space exploration program. Photo by Ensign Lyndsay Ballew for, click to enlarge.

Ransom Middle School Names Students Of The Month

May 23, 2022

Ransom Middle School recently named their Students of the Month for April. They are Dorian Burt and Jazlyn Beddell. Photos for, click to enlarge.

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