Tony Simmons

The Collegiate School at FSU Panama City (TCS) welcomed its second cohort of freshmen during a reception on Jan. 25. The 125 students, representing every middle school in Bay County, will begin classes in August.

During the reception, parents had an opportunity to question staff and learn about programs, while current student ambassadors took the new students in small groups to tour the classrooms and meet teachers.

A tuition-free developmental laboratory school, TCS has experienced many successes during its first semester of this inaugural school year, according to Director Debbi Whitaker, which bodes well for the incoming freshmen. The rigorous college preparatory and career certification curriculum is unique in Bay County.

“We have almost 50 students who have received their first college credit in ninth grade, with over 60 more working on yet another college credit,” Whitaker said. “Technical certifications are about to be underway. We will have almost 100 certification tests under our belt by the end of the semester.”

Other signs of the school’s success thus far include the number of applications already received for next year, the school’s growing presence in the community, and the academic and personal growth exhibited by students, she said. 

That steady growth brings new challenges, she added.

“As we continue to grow, we will continue to have increasing needs for space to accommodate the great demand we have for entrance into our school,” Whitaker said. “We will also continue to add electives and clubs, which are perhaps not seen as challenges but as opportunities for our students.”

Whitaker said there is an extensive waiting list for any vacancies that might open between now and autumn.

In the fall, school days will run from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on weekdays. Students will have a full hour in each of their four core classes, while the last two classes of the day will be for career exploration and electives in the arts. Each Friday, rather than going to the satellite TCS campus at 2430 St, Andrews Blvd., students will meet for classes at the FSU Panama City campus, 4750 Collegiate Drive.

For more information about the Collegiate High School, visit