Purple star, the consistency for military children

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Greydon Furstenau

In 2022, eight River Region schools achieved Purple Star designation in the inaugural year. By 2024, the number has grown to 76 schools with 53 additional schools that achieved Purple Star School designation and were recognized at the Alabama State Board of Education meeting.

The Purple Star School program was designed to help mitigate the challenges of high mobility by setting standards for and publicly designating military-friendly schools. The Purple Star Award recognizes schools that show a major commitment to students and families connected to our nation’s military. Schools that earn the designation will receive a special Purple Star recognition to display on site.

"The Purple Star School designation is a win-win—it not only supports our military families but also enhances overall school communication and cooperation," explained Katheryn Ganster, school liaison programs manager. "Earning this status raises awareness of the unique challenges faced by military-connected students, helping us serve them better."

Schools that earn the Purple Star designation appoint a military liaison who understands the challenges faced by military families and students transitioning to new schools. Challenges include participation in extracurricular activities and tryouts for sports, which students might miss if they move during or after the tryout period. Purple Star schools are proactive in trying to accommodate these students.

The schools have a student led transition team to welcome new students both military and non-military to help them transition smoothly into their school. During the school year, schools hold activities to recognize military students and families.  The schools have a dedicated page on their website to help military families when enrolling or to find other resources.

The military liaison can also connect to the Maxwell AFB School Liaison office for resources and support with incoming families.

Staff have participated in professional development courses to understand the Military Interstate Children’s Compact Commission (MIC3), Alabama Code, and other aspects that may affect a military-connected student moving into their school district.

“We're excited to see the tremendous growth of Purple Star Schools in the River Region for 2024,” said Robert Richert, school liaison programs manager. “Local schools are doing what they can to support the military-connected students and their family.”

The Alabama Purple Star Schools Program and Committee, established by Legislature with the passage of Act 2021-7, recognizes the efforts of the K-12 schools in the state that are committed and supportive of military students, and their families, as they transition to their new homes and schools.