“Y” no more

Meet Discovery Oaks Elementary

Eric Cravey
Posted 11/8/17

FLEMING ISLAND – It not only came with a unanimous vote from the school board, but a letter of support from Florida’s premier space agency.

The Clay County School Board voted Nov. 2 to named …

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“Y” no more

Meet Discovery Oaks Elementary


FLEMING ISLAND – It not only came with a unanimous vote from the school board, but a letter of support from Florida’s premier space agency.

The Clay County School Board voted Nov. 2 to named Elementary School “Y” Discovery Oaks Elementary and with that vote, also named the school’s mascot the Voyagers.

“With the next generation’s educational voyage beginning in elementary school, what better way to inspire our youth than to name their newest school after one of our nation’s most storied and historic vehicles: Space Shuttle OV-103, aka DISCOVERY, and to have as a mascot the name of one of humanity’s greatest scientific instruments: the Voyager spacecraft, the only sign of man beyond our Solar System,” stated Frank DiBello, president of Space Florida, in his letter of support.

The second name considered was Bear Creek Elementary School where the mascot would have been the Cubs. This name would be an homage to Clay County’s Black Bear population, which is labeled as “abundant” by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

The third name considered was Canopy Oaks Elementary School with the mascot being the Cardinals.

School Board Vice Chair Betsy Condon made a motion to name the school Discovery Oaks, while board member Ashley Gilhousen seconded the motion, which was passed 5-0.

Immediately after the vote, former chairman Janice Kerekes asked Superintendent Addison Davis about the timeline to appoint a principal for Discovery Oaks.

He said it was “best practice” to have a seasoned principal open up a new school, while adding he wants to see principal candidates come in with a vision to make this school the envy of Clay County.

The current vision calls for developing Discovery Oaks as a STEAM school where Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts and Math are the driving force behind curriculum. Davis said Terri Stahlman, assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction, and Michael Kemp, assistant superintendent for operations, appointed a committee of teachers and principals who are tasked with creating content areas for Discovery Oaks.

“We had our first kick-off meeting last week and everybody was given their charge. They saw the blueprint of the school, they learned about what has come out of the ground already, what they can influence. Mostly, our decisions are in furniture and equipment decisions,” Stahlman said.

She said a team of teachers are going to be traveling the state looking at other STEAM models that are excelling in hopes of duplicating and even improving upon to implement in Clay County.

“It’s fun work. It’s a lot of work. Those content teams that Dr. Stahlman put together for the facility planning; it’s a huge responsibility. They’re representing more than their own wishes, they’re representing the content for years to come for what’s going to happen inside that facility,” Kemp said.

“We were there for an hour-and-a-half and they were still there excited and planning and strategizing, so I think we’re going to see a really inviting school choice opportunity for our families in Clay County,” Stahlman said.

After Stahlman’s comments, Condon asked what was meant by referring to the new school as a school choice opportunity. Davis responded by saying, “It’s a theme. It’s theme-based.”

Condon said she wanted to make sure the district was not creating another concept school much like Orange Park Elementary.

Discovery Oaks is under construction in the Eagle Landing area of Oakleaf and is targeted to open the start of the 2018-19 school year. The school is being funded with residential construction impact fees, which prevented the district from having to borrow funds for the estimated $23 million project. It’s the first new school to be built in Clay County since Oakleaf High opened on August 26, 2010 for the 2010-11 school year.

Before the official meeting got underway Nov. 2, Davis opened the meeting and took on an “acting chairman” role to kick off the board’s annual reorganization meeting in which a new chairman and vice chairman are elected.

Outgoing Chairman Kerekes nominated outgoing Vice Chair Carol Studdard to serve as chair, while Ashley Gilhousen nominated Mary Bolla. When the votes were counted, Studdard was named chairman by a vote of 3-2 with Condon, Kerekes and Studdard voting for Studdard and Bolla and Gilhousen voting no.

Kerekes then nominated Condon for vice chair, the sole nominee. When the vote was taken, Condon was elected 5-0.

The next school board meeting will be a special workshop Nov. 9 at 4 p.m. to discuss the rezoning parameters for Discovery Oaks Elementary.


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