St. Joe Company and Walton County School District partner to open first STEAM school in Walton County

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WATERSOUND, Fla. — A brand new ‘STEAM’ (Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts and Mathematics) magnet school is being opened by Walton County School District, in a partnership with the St. Joe Company; the announcement was made on Thursday afternoon. 

“This is going to be the new home of the very first STEAM school in Walton County,” said Jorge Gonzalez, President and CEO of the St. Joe Company. The announcement was made at the St. Joe Company Headquarters in Walton County. 

The ‘Magnet Innovation Center,’ or MIC for short, will replace the company’s previous HQ, as it prepares to move to its new headquarters in Panama City Beach. 

“After a couple years’ worth of planning and preparation and discussion and hard work it’s rewarding to finally get to a point where the students can start benefiting from the facility,” Gonzalez said.

The new school will be complete with robotics shops, engineering labs, 3-D printing and more.

“Technology, science [and] math is important just for about any career choice the students make,” Gonzalez said. “To have a school right here in our backyard that focuses on that curriculum is going to be really critical to prepare our students for their careers in the future.”

South Walton High School senior and STEAM student Heath Holcomb says the new facility makes him want to stay in high school for longer. 

“I kind of sat back, I was a little bit speechless,” Holcomb said, “The building, the technology that we’re going to have is going to lead us to be able to make some great things.”

The St. Joe Community Foundation is also donating more than $200 thousand for new equipment to give students a head start in learning to create the technology of the future.

“We just got so much more than we asked for,” said Pablo Probles, a junior in the STEAM program. “Right now I’ve just got to say thank you.”

Students will begin taking their STEAM classes at the new school in December and will move to the facility full-time by the start of next school year. 

“It’s been a true collaborative effort to get this done, to have the opportunity to impact the lives of children for a future that we have not seen,” said A. Russell Hughes, Superintendent of Walton County School District. “We’re excited about it.”

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