PGCPS Celebrates Military Students, Families During April’s Month of the Military Child
Prince George County Public Schools is proud to join school divisions across America in recognizing the Month of the Military Child during the month of April, which highlights those students from military-connected families within our school community.
The recognition dates back to the mid-1980s, when former U.S. Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger named April as Month of the Military Child in 1986 as a way to recognize military children and their families for the daily sacrifices they make and the challenges they overcome. Deployments, extended separations, and frequent moves are a regular part of life for military-connected children and their families. These students often have unique life experiences that serve to enrich both their classmates and the educators teaching them, sharing stories of their journeys across the country and abroad internationally.
According to the U.S. Department of Defense, among the 2.1 million military personnel serving our nation, 38 percent were either single parents or married and raising children, accounting for over 1.5 million military children aged 0 to 18. Of those children, nearly three-quarters fall in the age range of 0 to 11 years old, and 60 percent range in age from 6 to 18 years old. Many of these children are likely to be educated in public schools, as recent U.S Department of Education data showed more than 80 percent of military children attend public schools.
PGCPS serves as the educational partner to the families of U.S. military service members stationed at Fort Lee, where approximately 70,000 soldiers are trained annually, according to the U.S. Army’s data. During the 2020-2021 school year, Prince George County Public Schools’ total enrollment was 6,072. Of that total, 1,841 students, or 30 percent of PGCPS’ enrollment were children of military-connected parents or guardians.
The responsibility of supporting our military students and their families is one Prince George County Public Schools handles with pride. Our schools regularly collaborate with Fort Lee on various topics, and work closely with the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) in developing programs aimed at providing resources and support to our military-connected families.
These efforts have been recognized by the VDOE and the Virginia Council on the Interstate Compact on the Education Opportunity of Military Children as four PGCPS schools have been named Virginia Purple Star Schools for their commitment to serving students and families connected to the military. In 2019, North Elementary and L.L. Beazley Elementary received the accolade, followed by both Harrison Elementary and William A. Walton Elementary in 2020.
“Serving the needs of all of our students, including those from military-connected families, is an important responsibility as well as an honor for our school division. We are blessed to be able to serve our military families who do so much for all of us by helping the children have the very best opportunities to learn,” Division Superintendent Dr. Lisa Pennycuff said. “Month of the Military Child is an opportunity to recognize our students from military families for the special place they have in our schools and further educate our community of the sacrifices and challenges our military-connected families face in our own county.”
"The Prince George School Board joins our school division and community in celebrating the Month of the Military Child," Prince George School Board Chairman Rob Eley said. "Supporting our military-connected families is an important responsibility for our board and schools. Fort Lee is a great partner to Prince George County Public Schools, and we appreciate their efforts to support the educational and socio-emotional needs of our students.”
“As a recent retiree from the United States Army Logistics Corps, the Month of the Military Child holds a significant place for me as the father of two military children who have been raised closely connected to the military. That time included a stint in Prince George County where my children attended Walton Elementary School,” Assistant Superintendent of Support Services Dustin Menhart said. “This year’s theme for the Month of Military Child is ‘resiliency,’ and when I hear that word, it reminds me of our military children’s ability to adapt to changing schools, meeting new teachers, and building new relationships throughout their parent or guardian’s tour of duty in the military. Prince George County Public Schools is proud to celebrate our military-connected students this month and the special place they have in our community.”
“Resilient is often the word that comes to my mind when I think of military children,” USAG Fort Lee School Liaison Officer Chaundra Taswell said. “Their ability to withstand the challenges of military lifestyle is without a doubt a mantra that speaks to that resilience and aligns perfectly with the Month of the Military Child theme for April this year, Military Children and Youth: A Resilient Force in a Changing World. I’d like to personally take this opportunity to say thank you to PGCPS and the community for your partnership and support of our military children and youth.”
During the month of April, Prince George County Public Schools will share stories highlighting the important role our military students and their families have on the culture of our school community. These stories will be featured on our Facebook page throughout the Month of the Military Child at https://www.facebook.com/princegeorgeschools/. Our schools will also hold special recognitions throughout the month of April celebrating our military-connected students and families.
Additionally, PGCPS encourages the community to “Purple Up! For Military Kids” by wearing purple on April 21st, 2021 in support of military-connected children. The color purple signifies all branches of the U.S. military are supported - the U.S. Army, Air Force, Marine Corps, Navy, and Coast Guard.
To learn more about the Month of the Military Child, visit the U.S. Department of Defense Education Activity website at https://www.dodea.edu/dodeaCelebrates/Military-Child-Month.cfm.