Edison High School has received a Purple Star award for its commitment to military students and families.
The designation is valid for three years and Edison may seek a renewal for 2025. To receive it, district Director of Special Education Jamie Angelini and EHS Career Pathways Coach Leah Eft joined efforts with Angelini’s husband Nick, a substitute teacher who also acts as military liaison, while district Website Coordinator Jamie Evans handled online resources. The school was notified by Dr. Stephanie K. Siddens, interim superintendent of public instruction for the Ohio Department of Education, who stated in an official letter that “Each Child, Our Future,” the state’s strategic plan for education, recognizes the importance of supporting the needs of the whole child.
“To be successful transitioning between school settings, Ohio’s military-connected youth require supports to ensure that their unique social, emotional and academic needs are met,” she stated. “The Purple Star award your school is receiving signifies your school’s demonstrated commitment to serving these students and families.”
Dr. Siddens added that the Purple Star Advisory Board established a series of criteria to be considered for the designation including required activities and one optional event. They include having a staff point-of-contact as liaison for military students and families who will identify and inform teachers of military-connected students in their classrooms and special considerations they and their families should receive; maintaining a dedicated page on its website featuring resources for military families; providing professional staff development on special considerations for military students and families; hosting a military recognition event that demonstrates a supportive culture; implementing social and emotional development programs with the military child in mind; celebrating the Month of the Military Child in April with events and programming for impacted students; and having the local school board pass a resolution publicizing the school’s support for military children and families.
Jamie Angelini said Nick was a former Army recruiter in Columbus who worked with other schools to obtain the Purple Star. She had been employed as director of special education in Hamilton Local Schools and the district was the first to achieve the distinction. The couple moved to Wildcat Country in June and began working with Edison Local for the 2021-22 school year.
“Nick informed me of the deadline in which to apply, and then Leah and I worked on the application process and website with help from EHS teacher Jamie Evans. Of course, we had to have the approval of our superintendent and high school principal, but they were very supportive of our interest in this and were on board with this process.”
She added that the state’s recognition sets EHS apart from other area schools.
“I was ecstatic. With hard work and persistence, the news of achieving this immediately made me feel proud of our school and district. We were already doing great things to support our military families, but this will enhance what we already are doing and continue to create an awareness for our staff, students and community,” she continued. “I am hoping that we can eventually apply for the Purple Star for our junior high and elementary buildings but wanted to start with the high school first.”
Nick Angelini was thrilled with the distinction and said it benefits impacted youth.
“I am proud that Edison High School gained the Purple Star recognition. [It] means that the school has recognized the need for military families to have special support and resources available as an extension of military family support programs. It also means that the school has prioritized its appreciation for the servicemen and women that it caters to with tangible resources and a special care and attention to their unconventional needs,” he added. “The award goes beyond the ‘Thank you for your service’ atmosphere of appreciation and respect for our servicemembers and takes it to the next level, almost as if to say ‘Thank you for your service. We understand the challenges you face and we are here for you, like you are there for us.’ When you see the Purple Star, you understand the school made a commitment to our military families far deeper than words. The Purple Star is about commitment, culture and community and continuity between educators and military families. “
Eft said efforts are now in place to assist the students and their loved ones.
“We put in processes to get more information from the students on their military involvement. To be military connected, they have to have a parent or guardian who is active in the military or a veteran,” she commented. “We have 15 this year who responded.”
Among Edison’s plans are to hold recognition nights for military families at sporting events and Eft has also approached the youth to provide further assistance.
Meanwhile, Jamie Angelini’s ultimate dream is to begin a Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (JROTC) leadership development program based on the values and practices of the four U.S. military branches. The program combines classroom experiences with service to students’ schools and communities and is available in high schools and post-secondary institutions throughout the state. JROTC teaches students the values of leadership, teamwork and self-discipline and its mission is to “motivate young people to be better citizens.” In addition to professional and personal development, participation in the program can support students’ pathway to graduation and earn them the Military Enlistment Seal.