Gov. Ron DeSantis made a surprise visit to Okaloosa County recently to announce the inaugural group of schools to receive Florida Purple Star recognition. The Purple Star designation recognizes schools that provide extra support for children of military families. Once the school names were released, it was apparent why Okaloosa County was chosen for the announcement. Thirty-five of the 114 schools receiving the recognition were from right here in Okaloosa County.
“Purple Star Schools have the tools and knowledgeable faculty needed to help children of military families succeed regardless of the obstacles they face,” said Governor DeSantis. According to militarychild.org, a child whose parents are in the military can “expect to move six to nine times from kindergarten through their high school graduation, with approximately 200,000 students transitioning to a new school in any given year.” To qualify for Purple Star status, a school must have a trained staff member who helps ease entry into the new academic environment, a student-led program to help create social connections, a military family webpage on the school website to inform parents, and hold school-wide military recognition events that encourage tolerance and inclusion.
The Okaloosa County School District is privileged to support the highest percentage of military students of any county in the state of Florida. With that privilege comes a commitment to serve the students and families of those who serve our country. Superintendent Marcus Chambers said the district began tracking the Purple Star program when it was first proposed during the 2021 legislative session. “Our own Representative, Pat Maney, was key in bringing The Purple Star program to Florida, and we are excited to see our schools recognized for the great work they are doing to support our military children.”
Chambers continued, “Our schools have programs in place to make students comfortable and to make the transition from a school in another state or even another country less stressful. I could not be more proud of our teachers, staff, and administrators for earning this distinction. Their commitment and dedication to our military students, as well as all of our students, is making a difference. We are proud in Okaloosa to support our military students as their parents support and defend our nation!”
Congratulations on one or more of the schools in your district being designated by the Florida Department of Education as a Purple Star School of Distinction!
Antioch Elementary School Baker School, Bluewater High School, Bob Sikes Elementary School, Choctawhatchee High School, Crestview High School, Davidson Middle School, Destin Elementary School, Destin Middle School, Edge Elementary School, Edwins Elementary School, Eglin Elementary School, Florosa Elementary School, Fort Walton Beach High School, Kenwood Elementary School, Laurel Hill Elementary School, Lewis School, Longwood Elementary School, Mary Esther Elementary School, Meigs Middle School, Niceville High School, Northwest Florida Ballet Academie, Northwood Elementary School, Okaloosa STEMM Academy, Plew Elementary School, Pryor Middle School, Richbourg School/Fast Track, North Riverside Elementary School, Ruckel Middle School, Shalimar Elementary School, Shoal River Middle School, Silver Sands School, Southside Primary School, Walker Elementary School and Wright Elementary School.