Arnold High Enrollment on the Rise

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PANAMA CITY BEACH-- Whitney Walker has a special place in her heart for Arnold High.

Entering her sixth year as an English and yearbook teacher, the 2007 Marlin alum remembers what it was like at the Panama City Beach high school during its early years.

"From the time I started at Arnold High School in 2003, we were probably around 1,000 students, if that," Walker said. "We were still trying to get kids over from town, and still kind of getting a name for ourselves."

The school bell has been ringing at Arnold for 15 years now. During that time, the school's enrollment has grown to now nearly at capacity. Administrators say they attribute the spike to the growth of the beaches area.

"The school to be built with a capacity of 2,000 was truly visionary," Principal Keith Bland said. "Now that you see that it was built with that, and opened up with less than 900 students, within 15 years we've nearly doubled our enrollment."

Bland says all classrooms at Arnold are now filled for the new year which he says will have an enrollment of more than 1,900 students, including Voluntary Pre-Kindergarten (VPK) and Head Start programs .

And with Panama City Beach continuing to grow, Bland said the school of Marlins will keep swimming to success.

"It's a well-rounded school with a lot to offer to a lot of kids," Bland said.

According to Bland, when looking at just high school students alone, the school has an enrollment of more than 1,600 students, putting them second behind Mosley for the largest high school in Bay County.

Bland says they're still hiring teachers after the first day of school. According to district officials, 11 teaching jobs are still open throughout Bay County.