State School Superintendent Kirsten Baesler on Tuesday presented the three public schools on the Minot Air Force Base with the Purple Star Award, which recognizes their efforts to assist military families.
The Purple Star program is designed to help students in military families adjust to the academic and social challenges that occur when they are transferred to new locations, which typically happens every two to three years. It benefits children of service members who are on active duty, in the reserves, or in the National Guard.
The base’s Dakota and North Plains elementary schools and Memorial Middle School recently qualified for the award, Baesler said. All three are part of the Minot public school system, which has 13 elementary schools, three middle schools, and three high schools.
Baesler presented the awards to school administrators and Minot Air Force Base leaders on Friday, including Col. Daniel S. Hoadley, commander of the 5th Bomb Wing, and Col. George L. Chapman, deputy commander of the 91st Missile Wing.
The Purple Star program encourages schools to designate a point of contact for military families who are new to the school; train school faculty and staffers about how to support students from military families; set up a network of student mentors to welcome newcomers and help them feel more comfortable; and establish a website to connect families to resources for academic and social support.
Nathan Twining Elementary and Middle School, on the Grand Forks Air Force Base, was given the Purple Star Award last March. Twining is part of the Grand Forks public school district.
Although all of North Dakota’s Purple Star school honoree are located on military bases, Baesler said the program is open to any school.
“I would encourage any school with children from military families to seek this designation,” Baesler said. “It would help any school focus on the task of making children of military families feel more welcome and included.”
The North Dakota Legislature adopted the Interstate Compact on Educational Opportunity for Military Children in 2011. The new state law included the formation of a state council, which is chaired by Baesler and includes representatives of the Department of Public Instruction, North Dakota’s two U.S. Air Force bases, and the superintendents of the Grand Forks and Minot school districts.