By Special to the News
Ilena Luts 

McLaughlin Receives Dyer Difference Grant Award


Last updated 7/24/2023 at 11:39am

Ilena Luts

General Manager David Dlugokecki (left) presents the Dyer Difference Award to McLaughlin Academy of Excellence Principal Dr. Debra Wright-Hudson. The school is in the process of expanding from a middle school to include high school grades.

As McLaughlin Academy of Excellence completes its transformation from a middle school to a middle-high school, community organizations are stepping up to support the effort.

Students at McLaughlin are as at home in Fine Arts Classes as they are in Electrical Technician training. The well-rounded nature of education at McLaughlin Academy of Excellence caught the attention of the Dyer Difference Award Committee, which celebrates the school and its dedication to producing well-rounded, independent, and critical thinking graduates with the July Dyer Difference Award.

More than 700 students in grades six through ten line the halls of McLaughlin Academy of Excellence in Lake Wales each day. The school provides career exploration and college opportunities to help students experience the possibilities that will one day create their future.

Robert Connors

The campus of McLaughlin is undergoing a transformation that is converting the former middle school to a middle/high school. A new football stadium, gymnasium, and other facilities are being added to the campus. Seen above, an expanded parking facility is also being constructed.

Since 1964, the community school with a long history of community support has been offering classes ranging from beginning guitar and 3-D art to interactive television courses that allow students and instructors to connect remotely for optimized learning opportunities.

Each month, members of the Dyer family and Dyer Kia and Dyer Chevrolet team meet to review the applications which have been submitted and select one non-profit organization to receive that month's recognition and $3,000 award. For the members of the Dyer team, it's all about helping to make a positive difference in the community. For the recipients, it's an acknowledgement of their tireless efforts to do the same and a much-needed financial boost to help further their missions.

If you'd like to nominate a non-profit organization from Polk County for the Dyer Difference Award, please visit


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