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Polk County Public Schools will begin the new school year on Wednesday, Aug. 10.

News media looking for coverage opportunities are welcome to join us on Wednesday at McLaughlin Middle School & Fine Arts Academy in Lake Wales.

McLaughlin is welcoming its first class of ninth-graders this year as it begins a gradual expansion into a middle-high school. Click here for more details.

The campus will also debut a new mural that was painted over the summer. Click here for photos of the mural in progress.

This fall, McLaughlin will break ground on a more than $50-million upgrade to the campus, which will include a new gymnasium and auditorium as well as renovations to the football field.

McLaughlin Principal Dr. Debra Wright Hudson will be available to speak with reporters on Wednesday beginning at 6 a.m. The school is located at 800 S. 4th St. in Lake Wales.

PCPS Superintendent Frederick Heid will also visit the school later in the morning, at 10:30 a.m.

RSVPs are appreciated for planning purposes. News media can RSVP by emailing

With more than 110,000 students and more than 120 schools, PCPS is the seventh-largest school district in Florida and one of the 30 largest districts in the nation.

Please see for more updates about the 2022-23 school year.

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