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Gov. Polis signs Purple Star School Program into law, helps military families transition to new communities

Posted at 10:41 PM, May 20, 2024

COLORADO — Governor Jared Polis traveled to Colorado Springs over the weekend to sign several bills into law: one of them recognizing the Purple Star School Program under the Colorado Department of Education.

The Purple Star School designation can be awarded to schools in Colorado that are dedicated to helping children of military families transition to new learning environments after they move to a new community. The designation lets parents know the school has resources to support the child's social and emotional well-being while adjusting to a new school.

Data from the U.S. Department of Defense show that the average military child will attend six to nine schools during K-12 grade.

According to the new legislation, a Purple Star School must designate a staff member as a military liaison to help military-connected students receive resources like counseling, academic planning, and mentorship services.

Jenkins Middle School in Colorado Springs School District 11 has had a Purple Star School designation since 2021. Principal Tony Jackowski said the school has around 80 students whose parents are in the military.

"With the military families we have here, it's a resource that benefits them. It directly benefits the children as well. So I think it's fantastic that it's being recognized at a higher level," said Principal Jackowski.

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Nariyah Patera is an eighth grader at Jenkins Middle School. Her father is a master sergeant in the military and she moved to Colorado in the middle of sixth grade.

"I have moved around about five times. I was born in Hawaii and then I moved to...Italy, and then North Dakota, and now here," said Patera.

She said constant moves can make it hard to create friendships, but said the Purple Star Program at the middle school helped connect her with other military students who have been through similar experiences.

"You get to see people like you," she said.

Jenkins Middle School organizes monthly activities for military kids to participate in at the end of the school day. Doherty High School and McAuliffe Elementary School also have Purple Star School designations.

Colorado joins 38 other states with similar legislation recognizing the Purple Star School Program.

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