North Thurston Public Schools Earns New Purple Star Award for Support of Military-Connected Students

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Submitted by North Thurston Public Schools

North Thurston Public Schools (NTPS) is one of 12 school districts statewide to earn a new award recognizing its ongoing support of military-connected families. The Legislature created the Purple Star Award program in 2023 to recognize school districts that have incorporated military-friendly practices and demonstrate a commitment to military-connected students and families.

To receive the award, school districts must successfully address the educational, social, and emotional barriers that students may experience when their parents/guardians are deployed or when relocating and transferring. School districts must also demonstrate a commitment to military-connected families and students by providing students with the tools and supports needed for success in their education and in their futures—whether they pursue postsecondary education, military involvement, or other careers.

More than 15% of NTPS students have at least one military parent.

“Military families often face unique challenges, and we are proud to support our military-connected students in a variety of ways,” said NTPS Superintendent Dr. Debra Clemens.

Our military support staff provides outreach and advocacy between Joint Base Lewis-McChord and our district’s schools. This connection helps us inform our military-connected families about opportunities and resources, such as:

  • Extended before-school child care at two of our elementary schools to support guardians who need child care earlier to report for duty on base.     
  • Host events such as our upcoming Military Family Community Café, where we invite families to enjoy a meal together, discuss their experiences, and learn how to strengthen our support for their children.      
  • Working with JBLM to provide military and family life counselors to serve active-duty and newly retired military families on-site at several NTPS schools.    
  • Celebrating the Month of the Military Child every April. This year, we have created a virtual art wall and planned many school-based events.

“NTPS does a wonderful job ensuring our military families feel welcomed, engaged, and supported,” said NTPS Board of Directors Vice President Dr. Jennifer Thomas, a military spouse and mom to five military-connected children. “This Purple Star Award is a meaningful reminder of the importance of supporting the unique needs of this part of our community. We are honored to receive this distinction.”

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