ASHLAND – The Virginia Council on the Interstate Compact on the Educational Opportunity of Military Children has named Patrick Henry High School (PHHS) as a 2019 Purple Star Award recipient. It is the first of Hanover County Public schools and one of only four Central Virginia schools to receive the recognition.

The award recognizes military-friendly schools that have demonstrated a major commitment to students and families connected to our nation’s military.

“Serving those who serve and defend our nation is an honor and a privilege. I am encouraged by the initiative taken by Patrick Henry High School to help better support the unique needs of our military families. I am hopeful that their accomplishment will inspire others to follow their lead,” said Dr. Michael B. Gill, superintendent of schools.

Patrick Henry High School principal Chris Martinez added, “Providing inclusive and welcoming experiences for all of our stakeholders is what makes PHHS such a special school community. Our faculty and staff are honored to earn the Virginia Purple Star Award that recognizes our commitment to helping our military families and demonstrates our gratitude for their service to our nation. We are proud to welcome them into our ‘PHamily.’ ”

Virginia public schools serve over 80,000 military-connected students—the largest in the nation—whose parents serve on active duty, in the reserves, or in the Virginia National Guard.

The Purple Star Award program serves to encourage school divisions to help these students stay on track academically and graduate on time.

To earn a Purple Star Award, a school must meet six criteria. This includes:

- A school-based point of contact (POC) must complete Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) training.

- The POC works with school administration and military program partners to conduct a school-wide professional development that informs staff of the unique needs of military-connected students and the available resources on the supports available for these students.

- The school maintains or links to a division webpage dedicated to military student and family support.

- The school division assigns a central office staff member to be the contact for the school-based liaison and military families.

- The school maintains a student-led transition program to include a student transition team coordinator. This program provides peer support for newly enrolled and withdrawing students to include those that are military-connected.

- Purple Star Schools must provide evidence that the division completed at least one of the following:

- Division-wide professional development regarding special considerations for military students and families.

- The School Board passes a resolution publicizing the school division’s support for military students and families.

- The school division hosts a military recognition event designed to demonstrate a military-friendly culture across the school division community.

Patrick Henry High School will receive a Virginia Purple Star commemorative coin to display and will be listed as a Purple Star school on the VDOE Military Families webpage.

Purple Star schools retain the designation for three years before being required to reapply.

Information submitted by Chris R. Whitley, Hanover County Public Schools public information officer.

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