Three Delaware schools were named Purple Star Schools this week. (Photo by jacoblund/iStock Getty Images)

Military student support earns 3 schools Purple Star status

Jarek RutzHeadlines, Education

Three Delaware schools were named Purple Star Schools this week. (Photo by jacoblund/iStock Getty Images)

Three Delaware schools were named Purple Star Schools this week. (Photo by jacoblund/iStock Getty Images)

The same week the legislature moved forward with a bill giving military-connected students priority in school choice decisions, the state announced its Purple Star Schools. 

Delaware’s Department of Education announced Thursday that First State Military Academy, along with Caesar Rodney School District’s Caesar Rodney High School and Dover Air Force Base Middle School, are the state’s 2024 Purple Star Schools.

That designation honors schools for their commitment to supporting the unique educational and social-emotional needs of military-connected children.

“We are honored that both Caesar Rodney High School and Dover Air Base Middle School were recognized as Purple Star Schools,” said Caesar Rodney Superintendent Corey Miklus. “The faculty and students at both buildings have worked diligently to implement Anchored4Life to assist our military students and families.”

The designation requires schools to have an active peer transition program. 

Both Dover Air Force Base Middle School and Caesar Rodney High School meet this requirement by implementing the Anchored4Life program, which is a club that helps youth cope with transitions and changes, such as moving to a new school, dealing with family challenges, or overcoming academic barriers. 

The club aims to teach and reinforce life skills, provide growing opportunities, and build confident leaders who inspire others.

“We want the transition into the Caesar Rodney School District to be as easy as possible for our military students,” Miklus said. “We have a great working relationship with the staff at Dover Air Force base to support this process.  We tell our students, ‘Once a Rider, always a Rider,’ which is especially true for the students that are new to our schools.”

At First State Military Academy, a peer transition team reaches out to new military-connected youth when they arrive at the school.

A student connects with the new cadet and matches the cadet with buddies who give the new student a tour of the campus and make sure the cadet has a connection in each class, in order to make them feel comfortable.

To be designated as a Purple Star School, the school must designate a staff member to serve as a military liaison to: identify military-connected youth, serve as a contact between the school and their families, determine appropriate school services for the children and help coordinate school programs relevant to military-connected youth.

In addition to participating in training on how to support the military-connected families with the specific challenges they face, the liaison also must conduct school-wide professional development to inform all staff of the unique needs of military-connected students and available resources.

Delaware Purple Star Schools also must have designated web pages with resources and information relevant to military-connected families and establish a transition program for youth. 

The honor of Purple Star School will stick with the three schools for the next three years.

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