Woodward Elementary School and Dempsey Middle School were both designated “Purple Star” schools this week by the Ohio Department of Education.
On Monday, the state announced that 31 Ohio schools will receive the coveted Purple Star Award this school year, and Woodward and Dempsey were among the schools recognized for demonstrating “a significant commitment to serving students and families connected to the United States Armed Forces.”
The state reports that in order to receive the award, schools must designate a liaison to strengthen relationships between military-connected students and their families, as well as maintain a dedicated page on its website featuring resources for military families.
At Woodward, Principal Eric Barr said he put together a four-person team last school year to work through the application process and was very pleased to learn the school had been recognized this week.
“Not a lot of elementary schools across the state have received this recognition,” Barr said. “We feel really excited about the fact that we were able to earn the recognition. It’s really exciting. It’s one more positive outreach that we’re going to be able to utilize with our families here at Woodward.”
Barr said the award will “enable us to fine tune things we want to do moving forward in terms of honoring our service members and our veterans during Veterans Day activities. It’s also going to allow us to do a better job of supporting military families.”
He added the school is also working to put together a Hall of Honor for Woodward students who join the military after they graduate.
At Dempsey, history teacher and veteran Mick Brockett was put in charge of the application. He did several trainings and questionnaires as part of the process.
“The questions focus on what we have done in the past and what we plan to do to recognize military families in our school,” Brockett said. “We have always done a special Veterans Day assembly, where we recognize and honor family members of students who were in the military. The trainings helped me to understand the issues facing military families and the impact deployments can have on children.”
Brockett added it’s a subjected he easily understood and was glad Vice Principal Suzanne Williams put him in charge of the project.
“I have been serving in the Army Reserves for 30 years, so naturally she thought this might be something that I would be interested in,” Brockett said. “Having been deployed twice myself, I understand the issues my wife and children went through while I was deployed.”
Brockett added he hopes the school helps families like his in the future.
“This designation means a lot to me as a veteran, husband, and father of a military family,” he said. “My wife, Michele, would often not tell me the issues her and my children dealt with while I was deployed. She didn’t want to worry me. Now that I know some of the physical and emotional issues family members deal with during deployments, I think I can use our experiences to help other families who might be feeling the same way.”
Glenn Battishill can be reached at 740-413-0903 or on Twitter @BattishillDG.