School Preparations for the arrival of the Army 7th Special Forces Group are under way in Okaloosa County, in Fort Walton Beach, Niceville and Crestview. They have included training for the school district's staff, a Web site page for incoming parents and trips to Fort Bragg, to speak to families who will move to the Emerald Coast.
Between 1500- 2000 new students are expected when the Special Forces completes its move in about two years. The benefit is our county is familiar with the needs of military children, as Eglin AFB, Hurlburt and Duke Fields have been a part of this community for a very long time. On a social level, for example, the Student-2-Student program in high schools pairs up new students with established ones to help the new arrivals make friends and find their place in the school. This isn't as daunting a task as a major city like Washington, D.C., where we had more than 10 high schools for one city. Crestview only has one high school, Niceville has one and Fort Walton Beach has two.
The school district also has several agreements with the military. One of the most important ones is the Interstate Compact on Educational Opportunity for Military Children, which streamlines the transitional process across state lines where schools agree to allow incoming military children to participate in and try out for extracurricular activities even if they transfer in the middle of the school year.
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