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Okaloosa School District celebrates ‘Signing Day’ for over 300 Career & Technical Education students

This marks the largest CTE signing day for the school district.

The Okaloosa County School District held its 5th Annual Career and College Signing Day on Thursday, March 28, recognizing the achievements and future plans of over 300 Career and Technical Education (CTE) students across six local high schools.

  • The event, held at the Mattie Kelley Arts Center in Niceville from 10 a.m. to noon, celebrated the students’ commitment to continuing their career and technical education after high school, ensuring a skilled future workforce for the community and the state of Florida.

Marcus Chambers, Superintendent of Okaloosa County School District, expressed his pride in the students’ achievements and the growth of the signing day event over the past five years. 

“Five years ago, we held this ceremony at our district office with approximately 40 to 50 students. Now, this year, we’ve invited over 300 students to take part in the CTE Signing Day,” said Chambers.

Chambers emphasized the importance of recognizing and valuing the hard work of CTE students, just as athletic signing days celebrate student-athletes. 

  • “A number of years ago, it was about having strong middle school programs all the way through high school. Now, it’s about having strong elementary programs going straight to the workforce,” he said. “And we want to be a school district that has a pipeline where students have opportunities, whether it’s college, the military, or the workforce.”

April Branscome, Career and Technical Education Program Director, highlighted the support from parents and community partners. “The parents have been appreciative and have been wanting to participate in this event a lot. We’re really excited about that because they’re so supportive of their students,” said Branscome.

She also emphasized the impact of CTE programs on local industries and businesses, citing examples of successful graduates now employed by companies like Step One Automotive and HCA Florida. 

  • “To me, every one of our kids that we’re teaching are going to be productive citizens in our community. We want them to be trained. We want them to come back and work in our communities. Because if we teach them here, we want to keep them here,” she said.

During the ceremony, students from Baker, Choctaw, Crestview, Fort Walton Beach, Laurel Hill, and Niceville high schools were called on stage by school, where they sat at a table and signed their letters of intent.

Their names and future plans, including college, military, or direct entry into the workforce, were announced as they took their seats.

The Okaloosa County School District currently offers 19 diverse CTE programs, catering to the passions and interests of its students. With more than 800 seniors enrolled in CTE classes, the district expects an even greater number of students passing certification exams this year compared to the 651 seniors who passed 344 exams last year.

Dr. Ashley Yopp, Associate Vice Chancellor for Career and Technical Education for the Florida Department of Education, delivered the keynote speech, emphasizing the importance of CTE in shaping the future leaders and innovators of tomorrow. 

  • “You are our future leaders. We’re looking to you to be our next innovators and our change makers,” said Dr. Yopp, addressing the students. “Continue to push forward and take advantage of those opportunities. Let your journey in CTE be a testament to your dedication and commitment to really making a difference here at home but also across our state and across the country and world.”

The event supports Governor Ron DeSantis’s goal of making Florida number one in workforce development by 2030.

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Community Comments

“Would like to know this as well.”
“This is Awesome/ Thank You for Your Service Reuse an Recycle”
“Carolyn, there is two of them this year, the one at the fairgrounds is still on the 27th”
“I thought this was scheduled for April 27th at Fair grounds in FWB.”
“Is there a limit on the amount?”
“Couldn’t the tennis courts be used for Pickle Ball Courts?”
“How come we haven't heard about any charges or anything about the person who hit this lady ?”
“Stayed at the Calypso resort last week. Overran with immaturity. Teens were throwing beer bottles from the balcony and dog shit while kids were swimming in the pools below.”