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Seven Loudoun County Schools Recognized for Supporting Military-Connected Families

Seven Loudoun County Public Schools (LCPS) have been recognized by the Virginia Department of Education as 2022 Purple Star schools. The Purple Star designation is awarded to military-friendly schools that have demonstrated their commitment to students and families connected to our nation’s military.

This year, Madison’s Trust Elementary, Belmont Ridge Middle, Stone Hill Middle and Willard Middle were recognized as a Purple Star school for the first time, joining the three LCPS schools – Trailside Middle, Brambleton Middle and River Bend Middle – previously recognized as Purple Star schools.

“Being recognized as a Purple Star school is an honor for the school and LCPS,” said LCPS Superintendent Dr. Scott Ziegler. “I applaud those schools that have strongly committed to our military families. Our Purple Star schools go the extra mile to ensure LCPS’ student-first mindset and support the complex needs of LCPS’ military families.”  

The Purple Star schools program aims to mitigate some of the demands placed on military families. Active-duty military families move frequently – typically every two to three years. While reserve military families may not move as often, reservists can be deployed away from their families for months at a time. Purple Star schools have implemented mechanisms to meet the educational and social-emotional needs military-connected students face as they transition to new schools or during deployments.

Purple Star schools must conduct professional development trainings about the unique needs of military-connected families. The school’s military-connected counselor also assists the grade-level counselor and registrar ensure that incoming military-connected students have access to programs and educational opportunities regardless of when they enroll. Many schools also partner incoming military-connected students with current students who also have a military connection to give the new students an introduction to the school.     

Trailside was the first school in Loudoun County to have the Purple Star designation. A Trailside science teacher, Jill Payne, whose husband was serving in the Navy, shared with principal Bridget Beichler about the program and its need. During a ceremony on Veteran’s Day, Beichler gave credit for the designation of Trailside as a Purple Star to Payne, saying her “passion for this program made it possible.”

Beichler continued, “This program helps students who have a family member in the military adjust to a new school. These are very vulnerable years. Middle school is tough enough but transferring to a new school during the middle school years can be very hard. This program helps military-connected kids become acclimated.”

In addition to helping smooth the transition to a new school, participating schools have discovered some unexpected benefits to the program. Thanks to the Purple Star School program, River Bend has strengthened its outreach to military families, which has, in turn, encouraged families to come forward and identify their military connections.  

“I think people love being acknowledged,” said Maria Powers, a sixth-grade counselor and Purple Star point of contact at River Bend, about the response she’s gotten about the school’s support of its military families. “Families love to feel heard and love being brought into the community. We’ve gotten a lot of positive feedback.”

Updated November 21, 2022