Wednesday, January 26, 2022

Everglades City School: ‘Like a Family’

Growing Up in Everglades City

Not a lot of people can say they graduated high school with seven students in their class. But if you go to Everglades City School you can!

Everglades City School is super unique since it is one of the two schools in the state of Florida that is pre-K through 12th grade. The school is not only for the kids and young adults of Everglades City, but also Ochopee, Copeland, Plantation, Jerome, Port of the Islands and Chokoloskee.

The school has been around since 1893 but has had multiple buildings and renovations from the hurricanes that have affected them and from more students wanting to attend. In fact, before the causeway to Chokoloskee from Everglades was built in 1956, students had to come to school by boat that lived in Chokoloskee; many of those students still live on Chokoloskee Island to this day.

The school that stands now on the Barron River was built in 1995 and consists of less than 200 students altogether. Since it is on the Barron River you get used to being in class and hearing and seeing airboats running up and down the river, and ospreys screeching outside (and recently a python was found in the courtyard which is a first).

If you go there, no matter what age you are, you end up knowing every single person from Pre-K through 12th grade. I remember being in line for lunch and having little kids run up to me shouting “Savannah!” and giving me hugs, since the school is so small we are like a family. You grow up with the people you went to Pre-K with and they become your brothers and sisters. Even students that transferred from other schools we would all be so excited to have a new person in the class or middle school because we knew it would be another addition to our school family. The elementary is on the opposite side of the middle and high school building. Both buildings are only one hallway, so you can see from one end to the other. Because the school is so small we don’t have the same things as larger schools do. For example, we have a certain number of sports the students can play, which are volleyball, baseball, cheerleading, basketball (girls’ basketball too), softball and cross country.

Back when I was in high school there were maybe 30-40 students 9th through 12th, so for prom and homecoming we would open it up the entire high school, so we could have a lot of people go.

We have one teacher for the important subjects in high school and some of the students from the middle school have to come to the high school wing to be taught history. But one thing I can include is we have the most incredible and amazing teachers and staff at that school. They are dedicated to helping the students succeed to the fullest and a lot of them have been there for years, long enough to have taught some of the students’ parents and even their grandparents! When we would have away games at other schools and even home games we would all be so thankful because every staff member would come to watch the game and support us, even the ones that lived far away. Every time I come down from college I always go visit the teachers, students and staff since they are still my family to this day.

The author with friend Savannah Humphreys and math teacher Jordan Major getting ready for a pep rally.

Graduating back in 2015 and leaving for good was so bittersweet since I had gone to that school almost every day (not counting summer) for 15 years of my life (I went to Pre-K for two years)! A lot of people when I tell them how small my school is would ask if I wish I would have gone to another school with more opportunities. But I always will have the same answer to give, and that is “No,” because Everglades City School, the students who were like my brothers and sisters, teachers and staff, were my family and helped shape the person I have become today. I am so thankful to have had the experience of going to a small school in such a historic and Olde Florida town.

University of Florida student Savannah Oglesby has lived in Everglades City her entire life. A lover of nature; some of her favorite things are sunsets, night lightning and mountains. She enjoys adventures and spending time with family, friends and two orange tabby cats. She also enjoys travelling, taking photos of nature, learning about extreme weather and seeing the world in different perspectives. Savannah’s love for Everglades City, and its history, is endless.

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