North Carolina is home to a large population of active duty, guard, reserve, and veteran armed services members, and the state’s public schools reflect that. The North Carolina Department of Public Instruction has launched the Purple Star Award Designation initiative this school year to recognize the state’s strong military presence and its support for military families. The Purple Star designation is awarded to schools that demonstrate military-friendly practices and a commitment to military students and families.
Schools in 10 districts and four charter schools across the state have earned the Purple Star recognition for the 2019-20 school year. In addition, State Superintendent Mark Johnson is honoring Harnett County Schools with the Superintendent’s Purple Star District Award for having all of its schools qualify for the designation.
Schools across the state applied for the special designation, and schools deemed as Purple Star Schools are those that completed several required activities, plus an optional activity, aimed at ensuring strong support for students of military families. Schools earning the Purple Star Award were required to have a staff member as a designated point of contact for military students and families, a designated central administration staff member supporting the point of contact in the school and also the provision of annual professional development addressing special considerations for military students and families.
In addition, Purple Star schools provide a dedicated page on their websites for military family resources or links to the district’s webpage with military family resources as well as a transition program to support inbound and outbound military students and families, along with a checklist for their use.
For the optional activities, awarded schools selected from one of five activities, with many of the schools opting for more than one. These include a school-hosted annual military recognition event, such as Month of the Military Child, Month of the Military Family, Purple-Up! For Military Kids!, Veteran’s Day, Memorial Day, a nomination of a student for the Military Child of the Year program. Schools may also have conducted a support project connecting the school with the military community, such as adopt-a-school, letters/care package collections for troops, a staff common-read book about military students or a school video or slide show of pictures to highlight certain aspects of the school facility (i.e. gym, cafeteria, media center, typical classroom, playground) on its website, as a way to help orient new students transitioning to the area.