On a rainy Tuesday morning, Okaloosa County School District held a ribbon-cutting ceremony to celebrate the new additions at Elliott Point Elementary School in Fort Walton Beach.
- The school, located at 301 Hughes St., now boasts an eight-classroom addition, expanded bus ramp, and increased parking thanks to voter approval of the Half-Cent Sales Tax.
Despite the weather, attendees gathered inside the school’s media center to hear remarks from Principal Scott Nuss and Superintendent Marcus Chambers before venturing outside for the official ribbon-cutting.
In his speech, Nuss emphasized how the new classrooms are “more than just walls and desks” and mark the progress the school has made. He explained the previous setup with portable classrooms separated from the main building by the bus ramp posed both safety and instructional challenges. Students lost upwards of 20 minutes per day of instructional time transitioning to and from the portables before and after the buses arrived.
- “The thought process was it’s nice to have a shiny new building, but it was 100% for the students,” Nuss said.
The principal shared that just moving into the new building immediately boosted teacher and student morale. One teacher told him her students walked into the classroom “beaming” and have been more attentive ever since.
- The classrooms feature flexible seating, 86-inch interactive flat screens, and whiteboard tables to encourage collaboration and engagement.
Nuss told the crowd about the school’s past attempts to creatively brand the portable classrooms in a positive light. “We called them ‘learning cottages’,” he said.
When the school realized they would be getting the new additions, the portables had to be moved out to the PE field, which gave the ‘cottages’ an update. ‘There are learning cottages, but now they’re in a gated community,’ said Nuss. “With a circular driveway because they’re on the track. We really got creative to make it look nice.”
While the administration did the best with what they had in terms of portables, Nuss emphasized the staff is thrilled to be able to vacate them and offer students a modern learning environment.
Nuss also touched on how the project ties into the district’s six pillars: academic excellence, community engagement, continuous learning, student focused, safer schools, and modern innovation. From gaining back instructional time to fostering student pride, the new addition embodies these pillars, according to Nuss.
- “With this ribbon cutting it doesn’t just symbolize the physical expansion of our education here in facilities, but it also is our commitment to shaping the minds of our kids for tomorrow,” Nuss said.
In his remarks, Superintendent Chambers praised the half-cent sales tax for allowing long overdue facility improvements across the district. Elliott Point is one of 15 schools seeing 19 different construction projects, from new classroom wings to paved roads and parking lots.
- “For me, it goes back to what Mr. Nuss was saying when you heard him talk about this school, and where did he bring it back to almost every single time? The students. It’s providing our students the type of atmosphere that they deserve and that they should have,” Chambers said.
Chambers explained the half-cent sales tax has generated over $30 million more than originally anticipated, allowing the district to expedite projects. In addition to the classroom and infrastructure upgrades, the funds are also facilitating new school construction for the first time in over a decade.
“So much is happening across our school district,” he said. “When you’re here at Elliott Point, you see the classroom additions, but you can also see the smile on Mr. Nuss’s face and as well as the teachers, and especially the students.”
After the remarks, attendees ventured outside for the official ribbon-cutting on the covered walkway between the new fourth and fifth grade classroom wings.
- Despite the rain, the ceremony marked a proud day for Elliott Point, the school district and the construction team.