Eighteen Fairfax County Public Schools Recognized for Supporting Military-Connected Families
Eighteen Fairfax County public schools have been recognized by the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) and the Virginia Council on the Interstate Compact on Educational Opportunity for Military Children as 2023 Purple Star Schools.
The Purple Star Designation is awarded to military-friendly schools that have demonstrated their commitment to meeting the needs of military-connected students and their families.
“I’m proud of FCPS’ strong partnership with our nation’s military families to help support the almost 15,000 military-connected students enrolled in our schools,” said Division Superintendent Dr. Michelle Reid. More than one-third of Fairfax County public schools, 69, are currently designated as Purple Star Schools.
“With the help of our Student Ambassadors at schools, military-connected students transitioning to FCPS can feel — really feel — that they belong,” she continued. “And a student who belongs is a student who blooms, socially and academically. These students have much to contribute to our schools and communities by sharing their knowledge, experiences, and friendships. Together, we can support their needs and provide them with a world-class education.”
Student Ambassadors are peer-led transition teams that bring together military and civilian peers to support all students' transition and connection to school. A peer-led transition team is a requirement for Purple Star Schools.
Schools in FCPS recognized as 2023 Purple Star Schools for the first time include:
- Belle View Elementary School
- Bonnie Brae Elementary School
- Canterbury Woods Elementary School
- Centreville Elementary School
- Chesterbrook Elementary School
- Herndon Elementary School
- Katherine Johnson Middle School
- Kings Park Elementary School
- Lake Braddock Secondary School
- Lemon Road Elementary School
- Lynbrook Elementary School
- Rolling Valley Elementary School
- Rose Hill Elementary School
- South County Middle School
- South County High School
- Wakefield Forest Elementary School
- Westfield High School
Being recognized for the second time is West Springfield Elementary School, which was originally recognized in 2020-21.
This is the sixth year VDOE and the Virginia Council have designated Purple Star Schools. Purple Star Schools retain the designation for three years before being required to reapply.
To qualify for a Purple Star, schools must have a staff member designated as the point of contact for military students and families. Schools must also demonstrate their commitment to meeting the needs of military students by engaging in professional learning and providing resources and programming on issues important to military families. Each Purple Star School must also have an active peer-led transition team, such as Student Ambassadors, to welcome new military-connected students and support their transition and connection to their new school community.
Schools have unique ways of supporting their military students and families.
Rose Hill Elementary School posted signs during their Back to School Night indicating they are a school that supports and appreciates military members and their military-connected children. Each year, they celebrate the Month of the Military Child in April with a spirit week, featuring books in their library, creative and informative bulletin boards, and displaying photos of military-connected families and staff members.
Katherine Johnson Middle School ambassadors developed unique videos of themselves to be shared with new students. The videos include critical information for new students including finding your way around the building, explaining how the schedule works, reminding students what to bring to class, and giving tips on activities and restaurants in the area.
The Lake Braddock Military Ambassadors Club conducts a number of events during the school year. They hosted a Military Family Potluck before school started, an annual September Ice Cream Social, and Blue Star Welcome Week and October events. Military Ambassadors Club and Bruin Ambassadors both take an active approach to support and engage with transitioning military-connected students.
Westfield High School celebrated military-connected staff and their families by creating a wall of veterans with resources gathered from their community. During the advisory period closest to Veterans Day, teachers were sent a link to a slide deck containing the pictures and stories of veterans connected to their school. Many military-connected staff members shared that they appreciated the school recognizing their service and the service and sacrifices of their military-connected families.
“We are very proud of our new and renewed Purple Star Schools, and I hope for us to one day become a Purple Star district,” says Meredith Ayala, FCPS Family Partnerships Specialist for Military-Connected Youth and Families.