Student Spotlights – April ’22

E.R. Dicksons Third and Fourth Grade Authors 4th grade 1
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!

ECSD Kindergarten Registration Opens April 4

The Escambia County School District has announced kindergarten registration for the 2022-2023 school year will begin on April 4. All families are encouraged to register early this year. The first day of the 2022-2023 school year in Escambia County is August 10, 2022.

Beginning on April 4, the parents or guardians of students reaching the age of five years old by September 1, 2022, are eligible to register their students to attend kindergarten either at the school of their residence or at one of the District’s choice schools.

“The School District of Escambia County is looking forward to welcoming our new students for this coming school year, and we are working to continue our tradition of providing awesome opportunities for all our students to learn and grow,” said Chris McFarland, coordinator of student assignment in the Office of School Choice.

Students wishing to attend the school for which they are residentially zoned can register directly at the school after completing the Focus Registration application, located at

Students wishing to take advantage of School Choice can apply directly in the School Choice Office or on the school district website after completing the new student registration process at Once the Choice school is approved, the parent or guardian can register at the approved choice school.

The following documentation should be taken to the school at the time of registration: Birth Certificate; Proof of Residence (utility bill or lease); Immunization Record; Proof of Physical (or appointment card for upcoming physical). Registration is not complete until all  documents have been approved and forms have been signed.

For more info, or assistance with the new student registration process, please contact the Office of School Choice at (850) 469-5580, or visit

Renowned Speaker Visits Pensacola Catholic High

On March 4, world-renowned author and motivational speaker Immaculee Ilibagiza shared her story with the Pensacola Catholic High School faculty and student body.  She, along with seven other women, spent three months huddled together in a three-by-four foot bathroom of a local pastor’s home during the 1994 Rwandan genocide. She survived and now shares her story with others. CHS Principal, Sister Kierstin Martin, learned of Immaculee’s visit to Pensacola to lead a retreat at St. Paul’s Parish on Hyde Park Road.

Immaculee began her story by confessing that it is all too often easy to complain in our circumstances. She shared that when the genocide began in Rwanda, her father gave her his favorite rosary and begged her to go to their neighbor and friend’s home, a pastor and member of the favored Hutu tribe who was willing to hide her from the Hutu soldiers. She remembered complaining to herself about how small the room was and that she hoped the conflict would be over in a few days. She went on to share that over the next three days a total of seven other women ranging in age from 7 to 55 joined her in that bathroom in hopes of surviving the ordeal. They took turns sitting on each other’s laps and sharing what food the pastor could sneak to them. She and the other women prayed often and clung to the belief that they were all special and wonderfully loved by God.

She spoke about emerging from the room after 91 days to discover that her parents and both of her brothers had been killed, and the self-questioning as to why she had been spared. She talked about the journey to forgive those who had killed them and the fact that is was only through the grace of God that she was able to do it. She encouraged the students to seek God, to know His love, and to love others in return.  She said, “the love of a single heart can make a world of difference.”  Immaculee’s book, Left to Tell – Discovering God Amidst the Rwandan Holocaust, is a New York Times Best Seller in which she shares her entire experience and message of healing and love.

MSP Alumni Student Sets Up Kindness Corner at Her High School

2019 Montessori School of Pensacola 8th-grade graduate student, Ella Jane Hoffmaster, is now a junior at Washington High School. She was recently featured on WEAR TV’s “Angels in our Midst” segment. This student shows the impact one person can make through a simple act of kindness. She was responding to poverty at her school and an assignment from her student government teacher about how kindness could be shown at school. She set up a Kindness Corner with hygiene products and supplies for students to come and get when they need them.

Student government sponsor Pam Hicks remembers Hoffmaster’s idea and commitment. “One day she came walking down the hall,” Hicks said. “I’ll never forget this picture. She had bags of hygiene products and she told me that she had taken her Christmas gift cards and purchased these products to start the program; to start the project with her own money.”

The Kindness Corner is right outside Hicks’ door and she sees how many struggling students come to get the supplies. “I was surprised that we went through all of the stuff that I bought within a day,” Hoffmaster said. “I heard a lot of stories about kids, like, saying how they have parents that recently lost their jobs.” During her years at MSP, Hoffmaster took part in many community service projects and was known as a student leader.

Further information is available at

LEAD Kindergartners Enjoy Sweet Treat

Mrs. Scott’s kindergarten class at LEAD Academy had a hands-on learning experiencewhen students used their math skills to make pudding. The children had to follow directions to make the recipe, measuring each ingredient carefully. They all enjoyed the fruits of their labor!

ECSD Encourages Families to Register For Free Voluntary Pre-Kindergarten Program

The Escambia County School District is offering a free Voluntary Pre-Kindergarten (VPK) program for any student living in the attendance zone of a Title One elementary school.

Parents first need to complete the VPK Certificate of Eligibility at or go to the Early Learning Coalition, 1720 W.  Fairfield Drive, Suite 100/400, Monday-Thursday 9 am.-3 p.m. (850) 607-8556. The child’s birth certificate and the parent’s proof of residence must be uploaded when applying for the Certificate of Eligibility.

After completing the VPK Certificate of Eligibility, parents should complete an Escambia County School District online application in FOCUS at

Beginning on April 4, the parent or guardian should bring the following documents to Spencer Bibbs Center at 2005 N. 6th Avenue to complete registration Monday-Thursday, 8 a.m.-3 p.m.  Schools will be filled on a first come, first serve basis. Registration is not complete until all documents have been approved and forms have been signed. Families residing in the Bratt and Molino Park attendance zones should bring relevant documents directly to the school.

Documents required include: Certificate of Eligibility; Birth Certificate; Proof of Residence (Utility bill or lease); Immunization Record; Proof of Physical (or appointment card for upcoming physical); Child’s Insurance Card*; Child’s Social Security number*; and Proof of Income (2021 W2 for all adults in home).*

VPK sites include Brentwood, Ensley, Ferry Pass, Global, Montclair, OJ Semmes, Weis, West Pensacola, Bratt, Bellview, Jim Allen, Holm, Longleaf, Molino Park, Navy Point and Sherwood.

For more info, call (850) 595-6915, extension 224.

Catholic High Takes First Place in Math Bowl

University of Mobile Performing Arts presents The Caucasian Chalk Circle

Eight Catholic High junior and senior students recently took highest honors in the Northwest Florida State College Math Bowl held March 4. Nine teams competed overall with four teams in the same classification as Catholic High School based on school size. The competition began with all students completing a 45-question, multiple choice exam within 90 minutes. The composition of the test included 20 algebra questions, 10 geometry questions, 10 trigonometry questions, and 5 miscellaneous questions covering the areas of probability, statistics, logic and calculus. The four highest scores by participants from each school constitutes the team score for that school for the written component of the competition.

The second component of the competition consisted of ciphering matches that require team members working in pairs to solve problems using a team approach in a race against time.  Twenty points are earned if the team gets the correct answer within the first minute, and ten points are earned if the correct answer is found during the second minute. The Catholic High Math Team won first in its division and first overall! Team members were: seniors Thomas Cook, Maggie Johnson, Lauren Lacour, Clare Reilly and Emily Watson, and juniors Elizabeth Owens, Tyler Ruble and Quentin Wright. The following CHS Crusaders earned individual honors based on the written exam component of the competition: Tyler Ruble (1st place), Elizabeth Owens (2nd place) and Quentin Wright (5th place). Kudos to the Catholic High School Math Faculty Department, led by Maria Green, for its efforts to prepare the students well in their math skills!

Booker T. Washington Transforms State-required Holocaust Materials into Center for Learning

Easter Sunrise Service 1

A team of staff and students at Booker T. Washington High School have collaborated to create a  Holocaust Interactive Museum in the school’s Innovation Center.

Booker T. Washington was just one of many Florida schools provided with 18 historical posters and a tub full of books about the Holocaust. BTW’s Innovation Specialist Patricia Ervin, along with her library assistants, BTWHS’s Literary Club, and in conjunction with BTWHS’s social studies department, took the rich resource materials, looked at the study guides provided, researched the images further, added props as symbols and collected books from their own library. This culminated in creating a small Center for Holocaust Learning with tours, photographs, videos and even a place to reflect and write about the experience.

By suspending posters from the ceiling accompanied with contextual information, a small room became a modest museum and educational center to bring awareness to one of the most monumental and well-documented genocides in history. To commemorate all those who left their belongings to enter the gas chamber and unknowingly die, an authentic 1930s suitcase sits in the middle of the room and is lined with newspapers from the 1930s through 1950s.

There is even a reflection table for the students to write their impressions, thoughts or feedback about the tour. Some of the student feedback stated, “The tour really influenced my understanding of how intense the Holocaust was . . . I think it was really good, and even though I had prior knowledge,  I learned even more, and learned more about the scope of the whole event.”

Another student, whose ancestors were lost during this time wrote, “My family fled Poland and Ukraine shortly after the rise of the Nazi Party; the people in my family who did not leave for Canada were killed in the fighting of WWII or killed in the concentration camps. No one in my family has returned to Poland or Ukraine since the end of World War II. Hopefully, I will be the first.”

Montessori Middle School Students Participate in Bluffs Clean-Up

Part of the Montessori School of Pensacola Middle School curriculum is community service. Students are required to do in-school volunteering, such as running the smoothie booth at the annual Fall Festival. There is also a requirement for service hours in the community. These hours can be accrued by volunteering for non-profit organizations, such as: Manna Food Bank, Gulf Coast Arts Festival (GCAF), and Ocean Hour. Students are strongly encouraged to work at the Children’s Booths at the GCAF.

Groups of students often find a parent to chaperone other project ideas. A group recently spent a Saturday cleaning up trash at the Bluffs. Students are issued service logs to record their hours throughout the year. The academic environment is augmented by community service, so students are engaged and the development of character, communication, involvement and commitment are fostered. Learning at MSP occurs in an inquisitive, cooperative and nurturing climate.

Little Flower Students Visit Montgomery’s Legacy Museum

Little Flower Catholic School’s 8th-grade class visited the EJI Legacy Museum and Memorial in Montgomery recently as part of its education during Black History Month. The Legacy Museum provides a comprehensive history of the U.S. with a focus on the legacy of slavery. Situated on a site where enslaved black people were forced to labor, the museum offers an immersive experience with cutting-edge technology, world-class art, and critically important scholarship about American history. The National Memorial for Peace and Justice is the nation’s first memorial dedicated to the legacy of enslaved black people. Our 8th-graders enjoyed learning about this history during their visit to the museum.

Crazy Sock Fun Day at Montessori School

Students at Montessori School of Pensacola celebrated a recent Fun Friday by wearing wild and crazy socks, in addition to collecting donations for the Ronald McDonald House.

Throughout the year at MSP, early dismissal Fridays are celebrated with Fun Days, such as hilarious hat day and dress like a pet day. These Fun Days are in conjunction with community outreach.  MSP Middle School students came up with a list of charitable groups that could be linked to Fun Days throughout the year. So far this school year, pet supplies have been collected for the Hotel for Dogs and Cats, winter clothing has been collected for Loaves and Fishes, and food has been collected for Manna Food Pantries.

Students love having an opportunity to dress up and to give back!

Catholic High School ‘Makes a Difference’ in 27th Annual Event

Spring Preservation Lecture Series Caring for your Historic Home with Meredith Wilson

On March 5, approximately 350 students and parent volunteers from Pensacola Catholic High School gathered for the school’s 27th annual Make a Difference Day project. The event began at 7:15 a.m. at the Nickelsen Family Courtyard on the CHS campus, where students checked in with their project leaders and met up with friends in their assigned projects. Rita Lay, CHS director of advancement and coordinator of the event, officially welcomed students and volunteers and then conducted a safety briefing to remind students and volunteers alike to be conscious of their surroundings and tasks as they go about the work of their projects. Principal, Sister Kierstin Martin, then led a prayer service in thanksgiving for all the wonderful volunteers, the work of the organizations that were to be serviced during the projects, and for the beautiful weather God had sent!

Students were then released into the community to partake in 25 different service projects to “Make a Difference.” Project work included clean-up and landscaping efforts in three separate cemeteries, as well as painting, cleaning and refurbishing at three local schools and four church parishes. Teams also served non-profit organizations including the Alpha Center, Ascension Miracle Camp, Martha’s Vineyard, Rosewood Manor, Waterfront Mission, Majella House, and other locations to “Make a Difference.”  The Green Club participated as a collective team to help plant sea grass along the bay in Milton to help preserve the shoreline and ward off future erosion. Another team used the school’s kitchen to cook three different meals for the Ronald McDonald House guests. Students and parent volunteers worked on their projects until noon before returning to the Tolan Family Student Life Center for a lunch that was also prepared by a team.

Make a Difference Day, also called MADD around campus, began at Catholic High in 1996 when former Development Director Jane Moseley first spearheaded CHS joining a national movement, originally sponsored by Gannett Publishing, that was held on the third Saturday of October every year. The national movement discontinued a few years ago, but Catholic High continued the tradition in support of our Core Values – Selfless Love, Commitment to Excellence, Personal Integrity, and Commitment to Service.

East Hill Elementary Studies Pop Art

St. Francis Arts and Crafts Festival

This month East Hill Christian School’s awesome elementary artists learned about the Pop Art movement back in the 1960s and studied the works of Jim Dine & Andy Warhol. They had fun decoupaging and making hearts full of different textures. Next, we are headed to Spain to learn about Pablo Picasso. It’s going to be a fun month filled with Picasso’s funny faces and experimenting with clay.

Brentwood Families Work Together for Success

Parents gathered with their Brentwood Elementary students after school recently for a reading tutoring session for parents and kids, hosted by the great staff at Brentwood. Students and their parents are taking time to work collaboratively on foundational reading skills at after-school tutoring sessions. Commitment like this is how we see our children continue to grow, achieve and thrive.

Montessori School Upper Elementary Students Recycle

Montessori School of Pensacola students in Upper Elementary created an aluminum can recycling program for the whole school. They have set up collection bins at multiple locations at both MSP campuses. Students had a community service day one weekend and built and installed can crushing stations.

Currently, the Recycling Center is paying $.70/lb and the Upper Elementary students have made just over $80. They have recycled more than 1,500 cans! All the money goes toward the Elementary Garden Fund, which is used to buy tools, plants and supplies for the student gardens in Lower and Upper Elementary.

East Hill Second Grade Makes Dinosaurs

Easter Day at Christ United Methodist Church

Second-graders at East Hill Christian School have been learning about the layers of the earth and fossils. Students had fun erupting their own mini volcanoes and building dinosaurs as a team. This was a great way to upcycle old materials and work together.

Sports and Academic Teams on Fire at CLA!

NAMIWalks Mobile

Creative Learning Academy had an incredibly successful first weekend in March—in both sports and academics. The Boys’ 2nd- and 3rd-grade Yellow Dragons basketball team, coached by Kyle Shaddix and Matthew Cope and shown below, beat a very strong EDS team to win the Catholic Youth Sports League end of season tournament. CLA’s 4th- and 5th-grade Girls’ basketball team, coached by Jeff McCarthy, lost in the championship game to St. Paul’s, but finished first place overall for the season. Congratulations to all of our student athletes who played basketball this season in the highly competitive CYSL.

CLA students are also incredibly motivated to compete in academic competitions. Two young men participated in the Florida 4-H Public Speaking Competition in Cantonment, sponsored by Florida Power and Light. Formerly known as the 4-H Tropicana Public Speaking Contest, the program was established in 1952. Millions of students have participated in the program, where they learn the fundamentals of preparing and giving a speech on a topic that interests them. The theme of this year’s competitions—Find Your Spark—captures the spirit of the public speaking program and FPL’s hopes for its future. Sixth-grader Winston Walker and fifth-grader Tré Robbins represented CLA with their confidence, brilliance, kindness, inspiration and creativity throughout their speeches. The competition was incredibly tight, with close scores all around. Both students took home third-place trophies

Lastly, many of our student “mathletes” competed in the “PI” (Pensacola Invitational) Competition, which took place March 5. The PI Competition is a completely student-run competition for students in grades 4 to 8. Math teams from local schools are categorized by the math level they are competing in, and top contenders of each category are awarded for their performance in both individual testing and team round. Ian Truong, Ethan Johnson and Liam Walker took home first place, and Rainey Richards, Stella Dixon and Ryan Blalock took home 3rd place in the 4th grade Team Competition. In the 6th grade Team Competition, both CLA teams finished 1st and 2nd. CLA students finished 3rd in the 7th grade Team Competition and 1st in the 8th grade Algebra Competition. Individual students who placed in the top three for their grade level were Peter Ruiz finishing 2nd in 6th grade and Sean Fang finishing 1st place in 8th grade Algebra.

Book Author Visits Montclair Classes

On February 28, Montclair Elementary School closed out Black History Month with Glen Mourning, author of the Crunchy Life Series kids’ books. Students in grades 2nd-5th read book one of the series and developed questions before Mourning’s arrival. Students were able to connect to the author through his many struggles and triumphs.

Mourning emphasized the importance of paying the P.R.I.C.E. (Perseverance, Responsible, Integrity, Commitment and Enthusiasm) for success. Thank you for taking the time to invest in our students!

Bratt Elementary Celebrates Literacy Night

Earth Day

Organized by media specialist Shonna Gilmore, Literacy Night was a huge success for the Bratt Elementary community. Principal Amy McCrory welcomed families into the cafeteria where they were served a light dinner. A presentation of Dr. Seuss’s The Cat in the Hat was given by Elisabeth Ward, Mandi Carter and Pam Trice.

Afterward, families were directed to the multi-purpose room, where every student received a free book and game from his or her teacher. Parents also received a copy of their child’s most recent test data. Before leaving the school, many students and families stopped by the photo booth for a fun picture. The faculty and staff worked together to make this a special night for all!

Young Cow Visits LEAD Academy Class

Comedian Kountry Wayne Straight Out The Mud Tour

Morgan Merritt, a teacher aide at LEAD Academy, brought her cow, a 10-month-old British White Park, for the students to see and learn about. They were excited to be able to pet the cow and asked lots of questions.

100 Days of LEAD Academy Fun

On January 28, LEAD Academy celebrated its 100th day of the 2021-2022 school year. The children were encouraged to mark the day by dressing up as centenarians. Many came to school wearing silver-haired wigs and using canes! It was a fun day and the teachers did many activities with the students to celebrate being 100 days smarter.

Holm Elementary Hosts Academic Super Bowl

Mobile Parks and Recreation Kids Day

On February 11, Holm Elementary hosted an Academic Super Bowl for 3rd-5th grades. It began with a Dolphin Draft and coaches broke out into teams to get to the interactive rooms.

This Super Bowl included four interactive classrooms: A Reading room that was geared towards 3rd-5th grade students and focused on the process of reading and learning about the history of football. A Science room that challenged students to build their own field goal and catapult that would launch a football. A glow math room that has students solving various football-related word problems. Last, a writing room where students read about the two Super Bowl teams, and together, wrote about who they thought should win the Super Bowl.

Later in the day, the students got to take a break for half time and had a Zoom meet with Antwon Burton, a retired NFL football player from the Rams. They came back to the second half accompanied by 24 UWF football players.

Once they made it to the touchdown, they ended their day by going outside and received hot dogs (donated by the Butcher Shoppe) and other snacks (donated by Blue Angels Walmart). As an extra reward, the students got to play flag football with the UWF players.

At the conclusion of the day’s events, the winning team was announced and won “The Holmie!”

East Hill 5th Grade Takes Field Trip

Earth Day Mobile Bay 2022

East Hill Christian School fifth-graders visited East Hill Pizza on 12th Avenue recently. The students have been working in teams to create their very own restaurant. This cross curriculum “Project-Based Learning Activity” is designed to focus on team building and making learning engaging and fun.

The students have been working very hard and learned a lot while at East Hill Pizza. They had the opportunity to create their very own pizzas while owner Darlyne shared the “ins and outs” of owning and operating a local restaurant. Fifth grade wants to say a huge Eagle “THANK YOU” to Darlyne and her staff at East Hill Pizza.

Joana Rose
Author: Joana Rose


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