Smith-Cotton High earns Purple Star designation

Smith-Cotton High School has long supported military families and their students; now it has an endorsement to make that commitment official.

S-C recently was awarded the 2024 Missouri Purple Star by the state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE); the designation indicates a school’s commitment to students and families connected to the United States military. S-C is one of nine schools and two districts statewide to earn the honor this year.

Among the criteria are:

  • Districtwide professional development regarding considerations for military students and families
  • An Assigned Point of Contact for military families
  • Dedicated webpage
  • School board resolution publicizing support for military students and families
  • Host an annual military program (i.e., Veteran’s Day, 9/11, etc.)

Smith-Cotton Principal Wade Norton said once administration became aware of the Purple Star designation, wheels were set in motion to build an application.

“We knew we had a strong connection with Whiteman Air Force Base and the different branches of military families who live in our area, but we were unaware that there are signals that can be put out there that we are a district that supports military families,” Norton said.

S-C Counselor Katie Ellis said when prospective students come in, office workers provide them with a course planning guide and going forward also will share the new athletics and activities handbook to ensure they know what programs and opportunities are available. She also noted the Sedalia 200 website page dedicated to military families that lists additional resources that S-C provides.

“We are going to do the Month of the Military Child celebration in April, where we will recognize those students,” Ellis said. “We are making efforts to be more sensitive to those students and letting them know that we care about them.”

Whiteman Air Force Base School Liaison Janice Scott meets with families when they arrive in the area; she finds out what their students are interested in and helps connect them with schools and districts that align with those priorities. Scott told Ellis that when families are relocating, “they look for that Purple Star.”

Norton said there are families in the district who have not marked on student enrollment forms that they are connected with the military, and he is hopeful that the Purple Star designation will encourage them to share their connection.

“We want them to mark that,” he said, “because we want to be a resource for them. We know their lives could be impacted heavily because of the military and their children need that extra support that we can give them.”

Missouri Commissioner of Education Margie Vandeven will recognize the 2024 Missouri Purple Star recipients at the Month of the Military Child kickoff event April 2 at the State Capitol Rotunda in Jefferson City.