Schools earn Purple Star for commitment to military families

Military families often move several times in their careers. Parents who want their children to have a Catholic education in the Diocese of Arlington have a school that recognizes the challenges of the military.

St. Louis School in Alexandria and Holy Cross Academy in Fredericksburg recently was awarded the Virginia Purple Star Designation in honor of its commitment to military families. The designation was announced at the meeting of the Virginia Council on the Interstate Compact on the Educational Opportunity of Military Children Oct. 24.

The school welcomes military students and families from Fort Belvoir, Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling, the Pentagon, Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall, the U.S. Coast Guard Station and other military facilities throughout the Washington area.

Principal Kathleen McNutt said the school will celebrate this designation at the Veterans Day Mass and reception Nov. 9. 

“We are very proud of our military families and we appreciate the challenges that come with moving every two or three years,” she said. “We do everything we can to help the children with transitions, deployment, changes in curriculum and cultural changes between school locations.  We are blessed with many families who leave us for a new assignment and then return years later.”  

McNutt said that while the numbers change each year, nearly 30 percent of the families at the school are military families. Thirty percent of the staff is either from an active or retired military family. 

“The needs of military families are quite different as they typically move every three years, can be separated from their parents as a result of deployments and either live on or off bases,” said Renee White, assistant superintendent for the Office of Catholic Schools. “The school environment must be sensitive to these challenges and provide special support for families. St. Louis School is an excellent example of this. We are very proud of the school and congratulate them on receiving this designation.”  

The school will receive a Resolution of Recognition, an award coin and a letter containing feedback from the reviewing panel of their application.

To be designated as a Purple Star school, St. Louis had to complete certain required activities, as well as one optional activity. Among the requirements is having a point of contact for military families. School counselors Jennifer Cotnoir and Donna Zientek serve in that role. Members of the National Junior Honor Society assist with open house tours, help student visitors and host farewell receptions for students who receive military transfers during the year. 

 

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2018

@eelliottACH