Student Spotlights September ’21

Two Bayside Academy Chosen for FB… McKean
Every month we compile a list of students and schools doing great things across our community.  We have so many talented students in our area.  Greater Pensacola Parents joins with these families and schools to celebrate their achievements!


This summer, some of the Student Government Association students from East Hill Christian School served at the Ronald McDonald house, helping set up for the Firecracker 5K Run.


St. Paul Catholic School held several summer camps during June and July. Students spent two weeks making 29 mosaic stepping stones that will become part of a walking rosary on campus. Other camps focused on STREAM projects, urban art, musical theater, sea creatures and the jungle!


St. Paul Catholic School’s youngest Spartans got a playground update over the summer! Students came back to a renovated playground complete with new equipment. This project by Jerry Pate Design was made possible by last year’s Super Spartan Drawing.


On August 5, Pensacola Catholic High School conducted its annual Freshman Orientation program. This is always a great day for the Student Council and the faculty/staff to greet new students and help them acclimate to their new surroundings before the “real” first day. It starts in the school’s gym and begins like every day at Catholic High—with a prayer, the Pledge of Allegiance, and the playing of our National Anthem.

Student Council President Matthew Varias and Principal Sister Kierstin Martin officially welcomed the Class of 2025. Students were then sent with their homeroom teachers who provided their personalized class schedules and accompanied them on a school tour led by members of the Student Council. The class bell schedule was simulated on an abbreviated scale so students could change classes and get a feel for the location of their classrooms and the amount of time they have to get from point “A” to point “B” – hopefully without the dreaded “tardy.”

Later in the morning, students rotated through a series of workshops that touched on important things they need to know—academic grading policies, athletics, guidance, campus ministry, clubs, dress code and ID photos/security. The event ended at noon with the distribution of laptops and the anticipation and excitement of what the next year holds for our new Crusaders!


Montessori School of Pensacola Physics and Engineering Summer Camp allowed campers to see different scientific properties in action. Campers were surprised by the density of an orange. The peel is full of air pockets that help protect it when it falls to the ground, as well as reduce the density. When you take the peel off, it’s like taking off the orange’s life vest, so it sinks! Through hands-on activities, campers grained a greater understanding of how and why things happen.


Campers at Montessori School of Pensacola’s (MSP) Earth Sciences summer camp experimented with salt to grow crystals in conjunction with their study of geology. They created a super-saturated mixture, which they learned was made by adding so much salt to water that the salt molecules filled the space in the water. Campers chose different shapes of paper to create their batch of crystals on and watched how they developed over days.

This week of camp offered opportunities to act as young scientists. Activities included experimentation and problem-solving related to natural sciences covering things related to the Earth, such as geology, weather and astronomy.


Chemistry week at Montessori School of Pensacola summer camp allowed children to hypothesize and test their guesses. Campers learned about famous scientists and the scientific process. They also got to create their own chemical reactions! One very popular one was a “lemon volcano” using citric acid of the lemon with baking soda. Oozing, colored eruptions provided scientific sensory frothy fun!


Every summer the American Legion Department of Florida sponsors a week-long program known as Boys State. High school students who have applied and been accepted by their local Legion posts gather in Tallahassee to participate in a hands-on experience to learn about the rights and privileges of a citizen, as well as the structure and proceedings of city, county and state governments. High school juniors are selected to attend the program based on an application and interview process that seeks out individuals who illustrate leadership, character, scholarship, loyalty and service in their schools and community. Six boys from Pensacola Catholic High School were selected to participate this year—Sean Hartigan, Charlie Jasso, Timothy Marshall, Anthony Norris, Colin Vislay and Lawson Wright.

They were part of a 400-student delegation that participated during the week-long event held June 20-26. At the conclusion of the event, Jasso, shown, was chosen as one of two boys selected to go to Washington, D.C. to represent Florida at the annual Boys Nation event that was held July 23-31. Max Harden from Tampa also participated with Jasso and they worked together to present their sponsored bill to the rest of the delegation. The bill is The Southeast Asian Investment Plan (SAIP) Act that proposes the reduction of tariffs and easing of business visa requirements, among other trade specifics, with key nations in and around the South China Sea, to combat aggressive trade policies by China. Jasso said he was very thankful to have had this once in a lifetime opportunity to learn first-hand what it is like to be a senator.

The American Legion Auxiliary sponsors a separate but similar program for young women called Girls State that was also held in Tallahassee June 9-17. Catholic High School had six students representing the Pensacola area—Margaret Eddins, Claire Jimenez, Maggie Johnson, Jordan Ryba, Emmy Snyder and Julia Susann.


Montessori School of Pensacola (MSP) summer campers at the school’s 12th Avenue location were thrilled to be able to welcome alumni student, Grace Coleman. She graduated MSP’s 8th grade in 2018 and is entering her senior year at West Florida High School (WFHS), where she plays flute in the band. Campers listened to a performance by Coleman and got to ask her questions about her instrument.

Coleman started playing flute when she was part of the MSP student band for Upper Elementary and Middle School students. She is not only a part of the band at WFHS, but also part of school leadership. She attended the National Youth Leadership Forum on Medicine in Raleigh, NC, this summer.
MSP summer camp Music Week also included hands-on projects for campers, such as making drums from tin cans and making ribbon dancers to use while dancing to different styles of music.


East Hill Christian School’s junior varsity cheerleaders were camp champs in the JV Division this summer at cheer camp.


The East Hill Christian School Lady Eagles defeated rival team Aletheia to win the Silver Bracket in the Conqueror Summer Slam! Lindsay Thomas received the Most Valuable Player award.


The Escambia County Public Schools Foundation has partnered with the College of Education and Professional Studies at the University of West Florida to produce a series of podcasts to help parents support their children’s academic success. The seven free podcasts, “Supporting Your Student,” are available at

For this series, Andrew McKay interviewed Escambia County School District teachers and UWF faculty from the Department of Teacher Education and Educational Leadership and Department of Instructional Design and Technology.

“Educators in our community offered their insights on how to encourage positive behaviors and alleviate common barriers to academic success. Parents can use these strategies across various age and grade levels plus an array of special circumstances,” said Kristie Kelley, executive director of Escambia County Public Schools Foundation.

Podcast titles and descriptions include:

Episode 1: Communicating with Your Child’s Teacher
Advice on effectively communicating and building relationships with your child’s teachers. Rochelle Carmichael and Dr. John Pecore outline: 1) advice for parents on interacting with teachers; 2) parental self-awareness about involvement; and 3) improving poor relationships with teachers.

Episode 2: Establishing Routines
Designed to aid parents and guardians as they help students of various ages be productive, effective learners. Dr. Melanie DiLoreto and Dr. Holley Handley answer questions on the following topics: (1) importance of a routine for a student learner; (2) rewarding and evaluating routines and time-management; and (3) routine in daily family activities.

Episode 3: Helping Young Learners Read
Focuses on teaching young and starting learners how to read, applicable to elementary and pre-school aged children. Dr. Elizabeth Bemiss and Dr. Kathleen Heubach answer questions on the following topics: (1) keys to successful, enjoyable reading; (2) reading challenges for ages 5-7; and (3) dyslexia and cognitive and physical impediments.

Episode 4: Older Student Literacy Challenges
Covers how parents and guardians can address barriers to literacy for high school aged students. Special attention is devoted to incarcerated youth, foster children, and at-risk youth in general, who have not previously had access to the literacy development they needed. Dr. Kathleen Heubach and Mercedes Musto, alternate education teacher at the Department of Juvenile Justice Detention School, answer questions on the following: (1) fostering receptiveness to literature for struggling teens; (2) out-of-habit reading students versus lacking skills; and (3) improving mental skills associated with reading.

Episode 5: Testing & Assessment
With an emphasis on high school students, Dr. Bill Evans and Dr. Aneta Walker explain assessment and its many manifestations, including: (1) the meaning and concept of assessment; (2) terminology; and (3) Bright Futures scholarship and its emphasis on the SAT/ACT.

Episode 6: Students with Special Needs
Navigating the public school system to support a child with a disability or special need, including autism and other developmental and intellectual disabilities. Dr. Keri Fogle and Dr. Tim Morse discuss: (1) meaning of special needs; (2) ongoing accommodation versus developing missing skills; (3) individualized education programs; (4) markers for special needs eligibility and evaluation; (5) special needs versus ordinary frustration; and (6) Overcoming feelings of failure and fear of stigma.

Episode 7: Preparing Your Student for College
Advises parents and guardians on helping older students prepare for college. Dr. William Crawley and Dr. Jennifer Stark discuss several aspects of college preparation: (1) anticipating higher demands and changes; (2) difficult majors in the STEM field; (3) finding a career path; and (4) what is different about college today.

The Escambia County Public Schools Foundation received funding for this project from a grant from Wells Fargo. The podcasts were recorded in the Pickens Multimedia Studio at the UWF College of Education and Professional Studies.


Creative Learning Academy’s 2021-22 school year is officially underway and we could not be more excited! After a well-deserved summer break, it is so great to see our students and families returning to CLA campus. We encourage everyone to continue to be healthy, cautious and safe as we begin our 49th year in operation here in Pensacola.

Our faculty is ecstatic to welcome new and returning Dragons back into their classrooms for another year of engaging, interactive and personalized learning. Last year, everyone in our CLA community did a fantastic job of developing healthy habits on campus with wearing masks when appropriate, washing hands and social distancing where possible. As we begin this academic year, continuously mindful of our world and the current Delta variant situation we are facing, we know that our CLA Dragons will keep up their diligence with healthy habits to help us move toward a new normal in the very near future. We are so grateful to be back to school and once again committed to providing every student their best opportunity for personal growth and success.


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