a white building with a blue door and some bushes
The new CFK Academy, a free charter high school, opens this school year on the Key West campus of College of the Florida Keys. MANDY MILES/Keys Weekly

It’s time.

Florida Keys students return to school on Thursday, Aug. 10. At least they have a short week to ease them into the renewed routines. And then they get a three-day weekend for Labor Day in a few short weeks.

But the schooltime routine starts up again — early-morning alarms, bus stops, packed lunches or a hot lunch menu stuck to the refrigerator in hundreds of kitchens. Homework. Tests. Pop quizzes. New locker combinations. New color-coordinated folders, notebooks and pens. New backpacks, protractors, glue sticks, scissors and loose leaf paper. 

And in the Lower Keys, a brand new high school.

That’s right, the CFK Academy opens this year as a free charter high school on the campus of the College of the Florida Keys. (Stay tuned next week for more details on the new academy.)

And for students at Key West and Marathon high schools, there’s a new principal awaiting their arrival on Aug. 10.

Rebecca Palomino takes over as principal of Key West High School when school starts Aug. 10. CONTRIBUTED

Rebecca Palomino will take the lead at Key West High School, while Christine Paul becomes principal in Marathon. 

With Laura Lietaert continuing as principal of Coral Shores High School, that means that all three high schools are being led by women who graduated from them. 

Palomino is a familiar face at KWHS, having worked there as a teacher, counselor and assistant principal, along with stints at Sugarloaf School and most recently as assistant principal at Gerald Adams Elementary.

“Mrs. Palomino recently told me she bleeds crimson and gray, and I believe it,” Superintendent Theresa Axford said. “Her passion for her alma mater is notable, and the variety of successful experiences she has had as a teacher, counselor and assistant principal have fully prepared her to take the helm of the district’s largest school. I am confident in her abilities and proud to place a former Conch in the highest leadership role at the school.”

Palomino said, “It has been my dream and aspiration to follow in the footsteps of legendary Conch principals. I look forward to carrying on the traditions of Key West High School that make us who we are as an academically competitive school and the source of Conch Pride for our community.”

Mandy Miles
Mandy Miles drops stuff, breaks things and falls down more than any adult should. An award-winning writer, reporter and columnist, she's been stringing words together in Key West since 1998. "Local news is crucial," she says. "It informs and connects a community. It prompts conversation. It gets people involved, holds people accountable. The Keys Weekly takes its responsibility seriously. Our owners are raising families in Key West & Marathon. Our writers live in the communities we cover - Key West, Marathon & the Upper Keys. We respect our readers. We question our leaders. We believe in the Florida Keys community. And we like to have a good time." Mandy's married to a saintly — and handy — fishing captain, and can't imagine living anywhere else.