COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH)–The Purple Star Award given by the Ohio Department of Education recognizes schools that show a commitment to students and families connected to our nation’s military.
Hamilton Township High School was the first school in the state of Ohio to earn the Purple Star Award, which provides military families resources available to them in central Ohio.
“It took me about ten years to find those resources. Those resources are out there. It’s just they’re very difficult to find,” said Corey O’Brien, a teacher at Hamilton Township High School and Purple Star liaison.
As a veteran of the Ohio Army National Guard, O’Brien felt compelled to help military students and their families.
“Trying to promote resources to help kids became something I was very passionate about,” said O’Brien.
O’Brien worked alongside a team of his fellow military supporters to get the Purple Star Award Designation at Hamilton Township. Now, more than 340 schools in Ohio have earned the award.
“It could be resources for finding employment, it could be resources for counseling with marriage counseling, it could be resources as far as the child of a deployed family member to get tutoring, it could be something having them get a certain amount of funding for a sports camp that they normally wouldn’t be able to afford,” said O’Brien.
Chip Merckle provides educational outreach to schools across the state of Ohio to help promote the Purple Star program. The award exists in 31 states across the country.
“If you have a service member who’s deployed, it’s going to be a lot easier for him to do his mission or her mission if they know, hey there’s someone looking out for my kids in the building,” said Merckle. “Most of them are following are lead here in Ohio.”
The Purple Star is married to an organization called the Military Interstate Children’s Compact Commission (MIC-3). The compact exists in all 50 states to help military children transfer to a school in another state.
“So, if they change their duty station then you’ll see a level playing field for enrollment, for different activities for graduation requirements, that way that undue burden and stress isn’t applied to a family who’s already missing somebody’s who’s serving,” said O’Brien.
O’Brien and his team hope to see even more Ohio schools earn the Purple Star Award.
“They hear what Purple Star does, they’re immediately jumping on board, we’re trying to grow exponentially, but at the same [time] we don’t want to be exclusive. We’re trying to be inclusive as possible.”
To learn more about the Purple Star Award, visit: http://education.ohio.gov/Topics/Other-Resources/Ohio-Network-for-Military-Families-and-Veterans/Supporting-Ohio-s-Military-Families/Purple-Star-Award