By Jeff Harrison
Noble Local School District
A desire to honor those who have served or are serving in the military resulted in Shenandoah High School being one of 31 schools statewide to receive the Ohio Purple Star Award from the Ohio Department of Education for the 2020-21 school year.
The Purple Star designation recognizes schools that demonstrated a significant commitment to serving students and families connected to the United States Armed Forces.
“I think it’s wonderful,” SHS Guidance Counselor Emma Marshall said upon learning of the honor. “We’re very excited to receive the award so we can move forward and show even more appreciation for the military. It’s near and dear to my heart because both my father and my husband served.”
“I’m appreciative of the recognition our team received for working to better serve students and families associated with the military,” offered NLSD Superintendent Dan Leffingwell. “We’d like to think we serve all of our students and families in ways that they need, and I’m so proud and thankful for our staff for stepping up to serve others in this way. It’s certainly a great honor.”
A school receives the Purple Star Award if it completes all the required activities, plus one optional activity.
Required activities include:
–Having a staff point of contact for military students and families who serve as the primary liaison between them and the school
- The liaison completes professional development on special considerations for military students and families under federal law. The Military Children in Ohio’s Schools course is available on the ODE learning management system and may be used to complete this requirement.
- The liaison identifies and informs teachers of the military-connected students in their classrooms and the special considerations military families and students should receive.
–The school maintains a dedicated page on its website featuring resources for military families.
Optional activities include:
–The school provides professional development for additional staff on special considerations for military students and families.
–The local school board passes a resolution publicizing the school’s support for military children and families.
–The school hosts a military recognition event that demonstrates a military-friendly culture.
“We’ve always had programs both at the high school and elementary for Veterans Day,” said Marshall, “and this year we were able to do that virtually where the students made a video to honor the veterans of our county.
“We also host military appreciation nights at our sporting events,” she continued, “and on those nights, admission for the veterans is free.”
Marshall said there are other projects currently in the planning stage.
“We have a lot of families with veterans,” she said, “and we want to build on what we’ve already done and have more activities here once COVID guidelines aren’t an issue.
“We would like to have a wall dedicated to the military where we can display emblems of each of the branches,” Marshall continued. “We hope to be able to recognize Shenandoah graduates who have served in the military in some capacity with plaques that include their name, graduation year and what branch they served in and we’d like to include a special area to recognize any active military families we might have.
“We also want to include a student-led recognition breakfast for our veterans,” she added. “Our students have been very receptive with different leadership groups getting involved including the Student Advisory County and our ‘Leader in Me’ Student Lighthouse Team.”
Anyone interested in checking out various programs for military families can visit the school’s website – gozeps.org – and under the select a school tab go to Shenandoah High; students/parents; military families.
There are 34,000 children in Ohio with one or more parents serving in the military, including the children of active duty, reserve and Ohio National Guard members.
The Purple Star Advisory Board, formed by the Ohio departments of Education, Higher Education, Veterans Services and the Adjutant General, helps decide a school’s eligibility for the award.
Zanesville High School was the only other Eastern District recipient of the award this year.