Purple Star Recognition
SOUTH CAROLINA STATE DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION ESTABLISHES MILITARY-FRIENDLY RECOGNITION PROGRAM, NAMING AIKEN COUNTY AS THE FIRST PURPLE STAR SCHOOL DISTRICT IN THE STATE
NORTH AUGUSTA, SOUTH CAROLINA - South Carolina State Superintendent of Education Molly Spearman announced a new district and school recognition program celebrating military-friendly schools and districts at a press conference and reception held at North Augusta High School in Aiken County. The State Department’s newly-created Purple Star Recognition program was established to encourage and celebrate schools and school districts making a significant commitment to support military-connected students and families. Aiken County Public School District and North Augusta High School were celebrated as the state’s first district and school to receive the honor.
"South Carolina is blessed to be the home of major military bases and thousands of military men and women who protect our freedoms through their service,” State Superintendent of Education Molly Spearman commented. “Military connected families face unique challenges as they move in and out of our state during all times of the school year and we want every school to have a network of support in place that these students and their families can lean on to help them throughout the process."
During the event, Aiken’s Superintendent Dr. Sean Alford commented about a recent trip he and his communications and counseling leads made to Ft. Belvoir and Ft. Meade to welcome families that would soon be relocating to the Cyber Command Center at Ft. Gordon, just about an 11-mile drive from North Augusta and Aiken County’s schools.
“We spent some time informally in schools there to learn about the support services, programs and practices school and district leaders in the Virginia and Maryland areas adopted to support the unique needs of military-connected students and families.”
One such program Alford encountered was the Virginia State Department of Education’s Purple Star Recognition Program.
“I couldn’t wait to share what we’d learned with ‘Molly’ (Spearman) in the hopes that we could support efforts in South Carolina to establish a similar program for schools and districts in our state.”
Eager to advance military and family support services, the South Carolina Department of Education worked hand-in-hand with Aiken County Public Schools in establishing the program and creating the criteria for South Carolina’s own Purple Star designation.
Purple Star schools and districts will advance the requirements of the Military Interstate Children’s Compact Commission, MIC3, by seamlessly connecting students and helping them stay on track for ongoing academic success. Among the extensive criteria for Purple Star designation are requirements for a dedicated liaison to serve as a single point of contact, student ambassadors to offer peer-to-peer support, a military-friendly website, military-student exceptions to enrollment periods for sports and other extracurricular activities, and school staff training.
“We couldn’t be more honored to have worked with the State Department in establishing this program,” Alford stated, “and are very excited to see how it will encourage other school districts to support the unique needs of our military service men and women and their children.”
The State Department will host a press event in the near future in Richland School District 2 as they recognize the Columbia, South Carolina, district as the state’s second school district with Purple Star designation.
"The Purple Star School designation shows our military that a school has gone above and beyond in support of military students and their families. I am so proud of Aiken County School District and Richland School District Two for being the first districts in our state to achieve this designation."
For information on the Purple Star school district designation in South Carolina, or military family assistance related to public education, families may contact the S.C. Department of Education at (803) 734-8500.