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North High ends another great year

May 29, 2019
By CHUCK BALLARO ( , North Fort Myers Neighbor

The seniors have flung their caps in the air, but it was business as usual last week at North Fort Myers High School for the rest of the students.

When the students leave school for the final time Thursday, it will conclude a year that was filled with many successes at the school on Orange Grove Boulevard.

It starts at the top, where Principal Debbie Diggs has provided stable leadership. Finishing her third year, she has had the longest tenure in the lead position since Kimberly Lunger left in 2012, after which there were five principals in six years.

Assuming Diggs remains next year, she will be the first principal since Lunger to see a class of students go through four years with the same principal.

From there, the students took over, whether it be on the athletic field, the arts or in the classroom.

"We had another stellar year. A lot of great things happened," Diggs said.

The girls JROTC Raider team won its first state championship, while Adolphus Taylor won a state championship in wrestling as a heavyweight.

The football and softball teams overcame some regular season slumps and peaked at the right time, advancing all the way to the regional championships along with girls soccer, while the boys bowling team went to states for the first time.

As a result, coaches Dwayne Mack (football) and Eric Brounson (bowling) were named LCAC coaches of the year. Three athletes received the same honor; Emily Houser (girls soccer), Nick Mero (bowling) and Shemari Mason in football.

"It was so exciting to see Adolphus wrestle both years he was at states. Last year he was sick and didn't do well. To come back this year and win was so exciting," Diggs said. "We do great in athletics and we're known for that."

On stage, the drama club hit a home run with its presentation of the musical "Barnum." Janelle Laux had a high bar to clear in her first production and came up big, cleaning up the awards for best in the area.

The school had more students than even entering visual arts competitions such as painting, sculpture, ceramics and more. Winning and earning scholarship money in the process. Many musicians and dancers were named to the all-state team.

The school made a lot of improvements. Not only were the gym and baseball and softball fields freshened up and the grounds beautified, but improvements were made in campus security.

"We were the first school to get the new state-of-the-art security system the district is installing in all the campuses. It is incredible and improved our security," Diggs said. "We got a second SRO to increase our focus on making sure kids are safe and new video entrance system and better lighting, since it's still dark at certain times of the year."

Of course, it comes down to academics, and the graduating class had half earn a Summa Cum Laude designation, with GPAs greater than 4.0. The AICE program had 148 graduates, with still more pending.

Looking ahead, there will be a record number of incoming freshmen - 484 - bringing the student body to 1,925, making it one of the largest in the West Zone.

"It's a continuation of all the good things that have been happening. Athletics will continue to be strong with an incredible athletic director," Diggs said. "We look at the five-year data every year and the trend is we offer the most dual enrollment classes at FSW and the students are earning a lot of college credits."

Diggs said only four teachers are retiring this year and few moving on to other things. The biggest retirement is Gwen Gregg, who taught the chorus for decades and who helped choose her replacement, Christy Kohler.

"It was such a great year and I was happy to be a part of it. I'm looking forward to what's coming in the future," Diggs said.



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