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Lunar Cats members celebrate their “Explore and Design” award following the awards ceremony at the World Expo in Houston, Texas. Members include (front row), from left, Isaac Henderson, Margot Palmer, Lily Ellison, Cade Stewart, Tank Palmer and (back row) Coach Sheryl Evans.

Five Paxton School elementary students traveled to Houston, Texas last week with 15,000 robotics students from across the U.S. and 40 countries for the FIRST Championship Houston, which includes competitions for students in elementary, middle and high school divisions. Paxton’s students, ranging in age from pre-kindergarten to third grade, were selected to represent the 137 teams in their 16-county region of the Florida panhandle based on their work on their “Mission Moon” project.

The young STEM students are members of the school’s FIRST Lego League, Jr. team self-named “Lunar Cats” and have been meeting since September to learn about the moon and what is needed to live there through hands-on activities. They then used their knowledge to build a moon base out of Legos that solved all of the problems humans would encounter on a long-term mission. Their build included coding two robots to deliver materials from their rocket and to push ice from the moon’s surface to the moon base for melting and provision of liquid water to the base.

“Each year FIRST chooses a theme for the year’s building and coding project and the kids were excited to investigate the moon this year by making craters with rocks and flour, visiting the moon with the Apollo 11 astronauts through virtual reality, and lots of other fun activities,” explains team coach and fourth grade teacher Sheryl Evans. “The focus of our program is really three-fold: science, engineering and coding, and communication skills.”

In Houston, Paxton’s students gathered with sixty other FIRST Lego League, Jr. teams where so called “soft skills” were really emphasized. The team, in only their third year, participated in interviews by a panel of FIRST reviewers and presented their Lego moon base and display board at the World Expo for other teams and visitors from around the world to visit.

The Lunar Cats team was awarded the “Explore and Design” award at the World Expo for their work, but Mrs. Evans says that wasn’t the real prize. “Watching these young kids confidently answer questions about their design from the Australian team at the next table, shake hands and exchange swag with team members and their chaperones from the Ukraine, or giggle about something silly with the kids from the Vietnamese team, that’s when you see the process come full circle,” Evans expressed.

“Science and engineering doesn’t exist in a vacuum. When students know their science, can build and code a solution using critical thinking skills, and then have the confidence to share that knowledge with others . . . that’s when we’re really preparing our students for real life.”

In the closing ceremonies held at Minute Maid Park, home to the Houston Astros, thousands of students listened as Dean Kamen, founder of FIRST, concurred with Evans, “We can’t build the future for our children. We must build our children for the future.”

FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) was founded in 1989 to inspire young people’s interest and participation in science and technology. FIRST participation is proven to encourage students to pursue education and careers in STEM-related fields, inspire them to become leaders and innovators, and enhance their 21st century work-life skills.

Pre-kindergarten student Margot Palmer, left, explains her contributions to the team’s moon base to the interviewers at the World Expo while her teammates await their turn to share.

Paxton Junior Robotics at World Expo

Third grader Cade Stewart, in yellow, explains the elements of his team’s moon base, built entirely from Legos, to a team of students from Vietnam.

Paxton Junior Robotics at World Expo

The Lunar Cats team displayed their work at the World Expo, including sharing about their home in Walton County. The team gave away pins, sunglasses, coloring pages and more thanks to donations of swag items from the Walton County Tourist Development Council and Walton County Farm Bureau.

Submitted by Kalli McMillan/Heather Stewart

Butler Elementary Science Night was a success! Those in attendance enjoyed a variety of hands on science activities, viewed class STEM projects, and had a chance to win a door prize. Submitted by Tammy Smith

VRB Science Night

VRB Science Night

Third grade musicians at Van R. Butler Elementary are excited to demonstrate their knowledge of melody, harmony, and rhythm. Hands on learning with Mr. Brown is fun! Submitted by Tammy Smith


Congratulations to our 2018 Teacher of the Year, Mrs. Joan Kennett, for being identified by the Florida Department of Education as a science leader in the state, and invited to participate as a facilitator for the 2019 Summer Science STEMposium!!! This is an incredible honor, and one that is definitely deserved!

The 2019 STEMposium is a project for science professional development across grade levels. The goal of the STEMposium is to build capacity among Florida's science teachers to increase student achievement, and effectively implement STEM in their classrooms.

Walton County School District salutes Mrs. Kennett on this invitation, and looks forward to the positive impact she will have across the state!

Superintendent Hughes sits in on Freeport High School AP Capstone Research class's Formal Presentations. These students were absolutely incredible today! Our Future is extremely bright with these future leaders on the horizon! EPIC2 for sure!

Join us at the Rosemary Beach Foundation "Music in Pictures" Awards Celebration this Sunday, April 28, at 2 pm

Celebrate Arts in Education!! Festivities include student artwork* screening (slideshow of 369 paintings inspired by classical music), awards presentation, classical music performances, instrumental petting zoo, and photographs.

Music in Pictures

*Featuring Talented Artists From These Walton County Schools

Bay Elementary School
Emerald Coast Middle School
Freeport Elementary School
Freeport Middle School
Freeport High School
Home School
Maude Saunders Elementary School
Mossy Head School
Ohana Institute
Paxton School
Seaside Neighborhood School
Seacoast Collegiate High School
South Walton High School
Van R. Butler Elementary School
Walton Academy
Walton Middle School
Walton High School
West DeFuniak Elementary School

**Presented by Rosemary Beach Foundation, the Annual Music in Pictures is an educational art initiative and juried art contest open to ALL students in grade K-12 in the Walton County School District – both public and private. Created in collaboration with professional musicians and university faculty, Music in Pictures promotes creativity, encourages lifelong appreciation of symphonic music, enhances learning and provides educational enrichment.

Music in Pictures includes classroom presentation, live performances by Florida State University musicians, professional development workshops for teachers and an awards ceremony.

Walton County School District is grateful to Rosemary Beach Foundation and their sponsors for this incredible opportunity for our students and our Fine Arts educators.

Music in Pictures Invitation

WMS Summer Bridge Program

April 23, 2019

Walton Middle School Summer Bridge Program


FOR:  Incoming sixth graders (current fifth graders)

PURPOSE:  To jumpstart the 2019-20 school year with targeted and fun literacy activities

WHEN:  July 8-11, July 15-18, July 22-24 (8:00-12:00)

WHERE:  Walton Middle School

Current fifth graders at WDE, MSE, and MHS will soon receive flyers with more information about a tentative summer bridge program at WMS.  Interested parents can complete the form and return it to their children's teachers.  WCSD will likely provide bus transportation and no-cost lunch each day.  Please contact Kristen Nelson ([email protected]) at 850.892.1280, ext. 3487, if you have questions.  Interested students should reserve their spots by Friday, May 17th by returning their interest letter to their fifth grade teacher.

Paxton Elementary students in PE, Art and Music Classes today learned the recycling dance; the reason for picking up trash and putting it in a trash can (so it doesn't end up in the ocean); and practiced various locomotor skills while on their trash adventure! 

Submitted by Kalli McMillan

Second grade students at West DeFuniak Elementary continue to work in their garden! Students have enjoyed planting and maintaining their garden. Potatoes, peppers, squash, peas, and beans are among some of the plants that the students have had the experience of planting this school year. Second grade is looking forward to harvesting the food and sharing it with the rest of the school! Submitted by Jessica Dawkins