State Superintendent of Public Instruction, Paolo DeMaria, recently announced that Westfall High School had been honored with the coveted Purple Star Award this school year. The Purple Star Award for military-friendly schools recognizes schools that demonstrate a major commitment to serving students and families connected to our nation's military. Schools that earn the award will receive a special Purple Star recognition to display onsite and a link on Ohio's Department of Education's website. This designation indicates that a school is dedicated to helping military children gain the educational skills necessary to be empowered for college, career, and life success.
For a school to be honored with the Purple Star Award, designated staff members Harry Miller and Christian Meister serve as liaisons between military-connected students, their families, and the school. They inform teachers of the military-connected students in their classrooms and the special considerations those students should receive. Westfall High School established a webpage, Support for Military-Connected Families, which can be found on the district website. It provides resources necessary for attending public school, which gives military families access to many tools and resources available to them, such as free 24-hour tutoring. It is beneficial to help new students become acclimated to their courses, which may be working at a different pace than the previous school they attended.
"The designation helps accommodate those military families and military-connected families," said Harry Miller. "Some of the children of these military/military-connected families will attend six to nine different schools from kindergarten through high school. The resources provided on Westfall's page will provide direct links to the websites that may provide military families the help they need or desire. The website also gives the names of Westfall Local School District Military Single Point of Contact, Mr. Christian Meister, and myself, Westfall High School's Student Support Contact. By having a single point of contact and a student support contact listed on the page, military families and military-connected families now know who they need to speak with if they have questions. Keep in mind, we may not always know the answer to your questions immediately, but we also have resources available to us now that we have the Purple Star Designation."
"Westfall is an inclusive environment that is willing to do what it takes to accommodate the varied needs of our students," said Christian Meister. "I get a great deal of pride in knowing that we are doing whatever we can to help our students be successful both in high school and prepare them for life after they graduate from Westfall."
The Purple Star Advisory Board, formed by the Ohio Departments of Education, Higher Education, Veterans Services, and the Adjutant General, helps decide a school's eligibility for the award designated for two years. After two years, the school must reapply. The Purple Star emblem symbolizes support for military families.
During the October 2020 Board of Education meeting, the Westfall Local School Board adopted a resolution supporting the Purple Star designation, affirming a commitment of support and dedication by providing resources and programs, which could benefit our military students and families academically, socially, and emotionally.
"Ohio's military members and their families embody the ideals of service, sacrifice, and community. But they can't do their jobs alone. The Purple Star Schools awarded today recognize the sacrifices military members and their loved ones make. These school communities have made a commitment to support them inside and outside the classroom," said Ohio Governor Mike DeWine. "Purple Star schools are shining examples of Ohioans working together, encouraging one another, caring for one another and, ultimately, creating a brighter future for our state."
"We are grateful for the individuals who serve in our nation's armed forces, and we recognize the unique challenges students of military families face during their learning journeys. Our school communities are in a unique position to offer essential supports to ensure these students are prepared for success, and their families are cared for and appreciated," wrote DeMaria. "Today, we recognize the schools showcasing these supports and inspiring all of us by their commitment to our military families."
Westfall High School has a great legacy of supporting the military and military veterans. The district holds annual Veterans Day assemblies, participates in Operation Letters to Soldiers, actively works with local veteran service organizations to award diplomas to veterans who were unable to complete high school due to their military service obligations, and regularly invites recruiters, of the different branches of the military, in to speak to the students. "These events are very memorable to our students and will continue to make an impact in their lives beyond high school," said Superintendent Jeff Sheets.
"Earning the Purple Star designation for Westfall High School and keeping it means a lot to me," said WHS Student Support Contact Harry Miller. "I spent six active-duty years in the U.S. Army, serving with the 5th Infantry Division and 101st Airborne Division in Desert Shield and Desert Storm. After the military, I retired from the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections. The administration at Westfall is as good as any that I have been around and better than most. They wholeheartedly support the U.S. military and its veterans, further cementing the legacy of Westfall's incredible support. I know that we will display the Purple Star designation with pride and uphold the values and meaning it represents. Go Mustangs!"
Westfall's annual Veterans Day programs were held virtually on November 11, 2020, broadcasted on the school's social media sites and the district website http://www.westfallschools.com. If you are a military family in need of assistance, please feel free to contact our Military Liaisons:
District Military Single Point of Contact, Christian Meister
High School Student Support Contact, Harry Miller