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Supporting Military-Connected Youth through Ohio’s Purple Star Designation

Imagine this: You are an elementary student whose father has been deployed overseas and you miss him terribly. One morning, when it is time for the Pledge of Allegiance, you put your hand on your heart, and surprisingly, a video of your dad reciting the Pledge from his faraway post begins to play. You have never felt prouder to be a military kid.While the month of April signifies the promise of green growth to most Americans, it is significant to military-connected families in another way. Since the mid-1980’s, April has been designated as Month of the Military Child, and as such, it invites communities and schools to come together to support and uplift those students who stand steadfast alongside their families in service to our nation.

Military students lead lives that are marked by frequent relocations, separation from loved ones during deployments, and the challenges of adapting to new schools and communities. For these reasons, military-connected students are considered one of the 7 vulnerable youth groups in the State of Ohio, yet most exhibit remarkable courage and adaptability. This resilience is often due to Ohio’s commitment to supporting military families and students through the Purple Star designation for schools. The special recognition is awarded to schools that demonstrate a commitment to meeting the unique needs of military-connected students by providing a welcoming and supportive atmosphere where students can thrive academically, socially and emotionally.

In 2023, 165 schools received new Purple Star designations across the state. Each of these schools fulfilled a set of criteria established by the Ohio Department of Education, including designating a liaison for military-connected students, implementing policies and practices to support transitioning students, offering resources and support services for military families, and demonstrating a commitment to educating staff and students about the unique experiences of military life.

Four buildings in the Bay Village School District have earned the Purple Star designation and the district shows an on-going commitment to providing a supportive and inclusive environment for students from military families. Designated staff members serve as liaisons for military-connected students, ensuring that their needs are addressed and that they have access to the resources and assistance they require to thrive academically and socially. The district works closely with military organizations, local businesses, and community stakeholders to provide a comprehensive network of support for military families. Whether it's organizing special events, offering scholarships, or providing mentorship opportunities, the entire community rallies together to show its appreciation for the sacrifices made by military families and to ensure that every student feels valued and supported.

Karley Christel, Bay Village parent, is confident that her son and daughter will forever cherish the memory of their dad reciting the Pledge that day on the morning announcements. She states that she is “thankful to be a part of a district that gives special recognition to honor military children and their families for the daily sacrifices they make and the challenges they overcome. During the Bay Village Schools’ Month of the Military Child, my younger children really enjoyed the district’s Purple Up Day where students are encouraged to wear purple. I know this made my children excited to be recognized and proud to be military kids.”

Superintendent Scot Prebles is supportive of all efforts to honor the district’s military families. “Bay Village Schools is proud to honor the brave men and women in our community who currently serve or who have served our nation in the U.S. Armed Forces. We understand the sacrifices they and their families make on a daily basis, and are committed to supporting their needs. Being recognized as a Purple Star district is an honor."

More information on Ohio’s Purple Star designation can be found at this website.
If your school is interested in pursuing Purple Star designation, we can help. Contact Carrie Sullivan, Family and Community Partnership Liaison, at [email protected].

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