In spite of the tremendous blow from the COVID-19 pandemic, stay-at-home orders and school closures, Jackson County School District and the Emancipation Day Festival of Northwest Florida remained persistent throughout the process. So did the students and teachers of Jackson County.

In October of 2019 the Jackson County School Board signed a resolution acknowledging May as “Freedom Month” each year in Jackson County schools.

The request was brought by Byron Dickens, founder and president of the Emancipation Day Festival of Northwest Florida Inc. As it stands, Freedom Month in Jackson County schools will allow a full range of options to exist for observance. Whereas Jackson County School Board strives to enrich the educational curriculum for all students and supports the local observances of Armed Forces Day, Emancipation Day, and Memorial Day.

An effort to encourage participation inspired the development of three contests and a “Best Teacher” gift card giveaway. The contests included the “Remember Our Fallen” Memorial Day Art Contest, “Our Strangers, Our Heroes” Armed Forces Day Poetry Contest, and the “Freedom to Me” Emancipation Day Essay Contest. There were three contest winners and a Best Teacher winner.

For the “Remember Our Fallen” Art Contest there were two winners; Anna J. Horn of Marianna High School and Tessa Hartsfield of Riverside Elementary School.

The winner for the “Our Strangers, Our Heroes” Poetry Contest was Charielle Hartsfield of Marianna Middle School.

There were no submissions for the Essay Contest.

Finally, the Best Teacher gift card giveaway winner was Leah Johnson of Graceville High School. She was the winner of a $100 gift card.

“This was a terrific start towards getting our kids engaged in understanding and having pride in the American process,” Byron Dickens said.

Winning prizes and awards included a 10-inch graphic design tablet with stylus, watercolor painting kit sets, poetry books, and $50 gift cards.

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