Rutherford B. Hayes High School received the Purple Star Award last week for its work to support military families.
Principal Ric Stranges said the school applied for the designation last fall after staff received training and learned about issues facing military families in hopes of being able to better assist them in the future.
“It truly is about how we can provide resources to students here who are in military families,” Stranges said. “I put a committee together of staff, students and parents, and they really get the credit. They did the job. What we had to do was begin to look at some of our practices and what we can do to be more military family friendly.”
Stranges added the main things the Ohio Department of Education asked for in order to be considered for the Purple Star Award were posting links to resources on the school’s website and making sure counselors are involved in helping students in military families.
“We began to be educated so we can better support our students with families in the military,” Stranges said. “Our culture is military friendly anyway, but we needed to go the next step to really show families in our community that we are supportive of the military. It was a great journey to have.”
The letter sent to the school district stating the high school had received the Purple Star Award was signed by Paolo DeMaria, the superintendent of public instruction for the State of Ohio. The letter congratulated the school for making the necessary improvements.
“We applaud and appreciate your outstanding commitment to serving military-connected students and families in your school.” DeMaria wrote in the letter.
Stranges said he was very pleased the school earned the award.
“Whether we got the award or not, we were putting practices in place to help students and parents,” he said. So whether we got it or not, we were doing the right thing. But I was elated. I’m very very very happy. I’m gratified that we put these things in place.”
Stranges added his plan now is to reach out to the other schools in the district and help them also become Purple Star schools.
“I’d love to see us as a Purple Star district,” Stranges said. “It’d be a pretty cool thing as you enter the city to say ‘every school is a Purple Star school.’ There’s no reason not to.”
Stranges said the high school has also been selected to host the Purple Star Summit on Aug. 5. He added Purple Star schools across the state will be invited to share information and best practices.
“That’s a nice honor,” Stranges said. “It’s a good opportunity to learn more about supporting our families.”
The Purple Star designation lasts for three years, and the school will have to reapply in 2023.