Escambia Students Kick Off School Year in New Building

 In Camelot Blog

Building Dedicated to Pillar of Local Education Community

This year, Camelot Academy of Escambia students started school in a brand-new home.

Students walked into a fresh new building located in Pensacola, FL lined with hallway decorations, bright purple and orange colors, and images of the school’s tiger shark mascot. The school supports the social, emotional, and academic needs of the students as they work to transition back to their neighborhood school or move toward high school graduation.

“As soon as we were notified there was a vacant building available that met our school’s needs, we worked very hard to secure the new facility,” said Escambia Academy Executive Director Chris Wooten, who has been with Camelot since 2012. “Our team attended community forums, spoke to community members and set a vision for the building. A lot of work went into making this vision a reality.”

Now that the vision has come to fruition, the Escambia community has cause to celebrate. The school plans to hold a building rededication ceremony soon to inspire students and staff who are kicking off the next chapter in the history of Camelot Academy of Escambia.

The new space marks an improvement for the more than 200 K-12 students who came to Camelot Academy of Escambia with exceptional needs or behavioral and emotional challenges. Chris Wooten is particularly excited about the layout of the new building.

“It’s an enclosed campus. Our previous campus had outdoor walkways. Now we have enclosed hallways, so it has more of a school-like feel and atmosphere,” Wooten said.

The students attending Escambia this year know they are part of something special.

“All our kids are excited,” said Daja Thomas, a K-2 teacher. “To see them come inside the building, walking down hallways with colorful, eye-catching bulletins was truly heartwarming.”

Throughout the summer, a team of staff and faculty worked hard to decorate the building with posters, signage and colors so students could enter a building with spirit this fall.

“I think we did a great job working as a team,” said Thomas. “We came up with ideas that implemented what we stood for and showed what we try to instill in our students.”

Second-grader A’Myuah Mobley likes the hallways. “We have a lot of bulletin boards with bright colors,” said Mobley, and is excited for her math lessons this year.

Third-grader Aundray Butler loves the new classrooms, the cafeteria and the new townhouse room, which is larger and has a lot of handmade artwork on the walls. Butler is excited to live out the character traits he is being taught and to learn how to multiply.

Executive Director Chris Wooten is grateful that students have responded so positively to the new building and its atmosphere and environment, even with all of the safety and social-distancing protocols that go along with attending school in-person during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The new school building is being rededicated to Henry McMillan, the person whom the building was originally named for. A pillar of stability in the area’s educational community, McMillan served as a teacher and board member for years. He was also a graduate of Florida A&M – which has graduated numerous Camelot faculty and staff, including regional director Andrew Maxwell.

“To see the greatness that came out of that building motivates us,” teacher Daja Thomas said. “It pushes us to continue to do things for our community, to help our youth and the people within the community.”

The rededication of the building to McMillan indicates the school’s focus on maintaining what has made Camelot so successful for the Escambia community. The school is also naming an award after McMillan, which will recognize the most accomplished educator each semester.

“We are 100 percent committed to upholding traditions and keeping those positive and relevant namesakes in the community we serve,” Wooten said.

There is no doubt that Escambia staff and students are continuing McMillian’s example of fostering a vibrant school community that allows young people to realize a bright future.


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