April 13, 2023
Prince George County Public Schools proudly joins school divisions and communities across the United States in celebrating the Month of the Military Child throughout the month of April, highlighting the military-connected students and families whose presence enriches the fabric of our school community.
The origins of the Month of the Military Child date back to the mid-1980s when former U.S. Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger selected April as the month when military children and families would be honored for their daily sacrifices and the challenges they overcame. Throughout their lives, these families face the prospect of deployments, extended separations from loved ones, and frequent moves to different locales of the world. These unique experiences military-connected students have during their lives serve to enrich their classmates, teachers, and schools as they recount their journeys across America or abroad internationally.
According to the most recent Demographics Profile published by the U.S. Department of Defense, of the 2.1 million military personnel serving in the nation's armed forces, 37 percent were either single parents or married and raising children, accounting for 1.5 million military-connected children aged 0 to 18 years old. Of those children, nearly 70 percent fall in the age range of 0 to 11 years old, and 56 percent range from 6 to 18 years old, representing a group of largely school-aged children who likely will be served by public schools in their community. Data from the U.S. Department of Education reinforces this conclusion, as the federal agency reports more than 80 percent of military-connected children attend public schools.
Additionally, the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) reports more than 79,000 military-connected students live and attend public schools in Virginia.
Locally, PGCPS proudly supports the needs of military-connected students and their families of service members stationed at Fort Gregg-Adams, where approximately 70,000 soldiers have trained annually, according to the U.S. Army's data. During the 2022-23 School Year, military-connected students represented nearly 28 percent, or 1,703, of the district's total Fall 2022 enrollment of 6,106.
The school division and Fort Gregg-Adams consistently partner to collaborate and further strengthen its relationship through engaging dialogue between the base's leadership and Prince George County Public Schools. Division Superintendent Dr. Lisa Pennycuff is a member of Fort Gregg-Adams' Civilian Military Council (CMC), a quarterly forum that brings together leaders and decision-makers from surrounding communities to exchange information and foster dialogue. Additionally, representatives from Fort Gregg-Adams are invited to participate in division and community events. Most recently, Fort Gregg-Adams Transportation School members raised Middle Road Elementary School's American flag during the school's ribbon-cutting and grand opening event in February 2023 and have participated in "Career Day" celebrations at several schools, including David A. Harrison Elementary School, in March.
Each November, the division's schools host Veterans Day assemblies, often attended by members of America's military, as the students create unique pieces to recognize veterans across the United States and in their community. In May, J.E.J. Moore Middle School students and staff partner to host its annual Memorial Day tribute ceremony. A yearly tradition for the Moore community, they unite to honor former students and fallen U.S. Army Captain Jesse Ozbat, who died in 2012 while serving alongside fellow soldier Tobias Alexander and the group's interpreter, through musical pieces, student poetry, and a concluding ceremony where American flags are placed in the school's memorial garden in honor of Ozbat and other Prince George service members who died in service to their nation dating back to World War I.
Through these and other demonstrations of PGCPS' support of military students and families, all five of the division's elementary schools - L.L. Beazley Elementary, D.A. Harrison Elementary, Middle Road Elementary, North Elementary, and South Elementary - have been recognized as Virginia Purple Star Schools for their commitment to serving students and families connected to the military by the VDOE and the Virginia Council on the Interstate Compact on the Educational Opportunity for Military Children.
“One of the special opportunities we have as a school district is the ability to serve the educational needs of our military-connected students and families at Fort Gregg-Adams during their time with us,” Division Superintendent Dr. Lisa Pennycuff said. “For Prince George County Public Schools, it’s a priority for us to ensure our military students are supported and have everything they need to succeed, which is at the heart of our mission - to engage, encourage, and inspire every child, every day. We are grateful to have a strong relationship with Fort Gregg-Adams' leadership and the opportunity to participate in their initiatives like the Civilian Military Council. We are proud to celebrate Month of the Military Child as it gives our whole division the chance to show appreciation for our military students and families for all they bring to our community.”
“The Prince George School Board values its relationship with Fort Gregg-Adams and their support of our efforts to provide high-quality education and opportunities for all students, including our military-connected children,” Prince George School Board Chairman Cecil Smith said. “Our ability to have thoughtful conversations and to collaborate on a variety of topics benefits all students and our community as a whole. Our board looks forward to celebrating the Month of the Military Child and encourages everyone to wear Purple during April as a symbol of your support of the military students right here in Prince George County.”
"As a former military child, I had to learn from an early age how to deal with different types of people in different parts of the world," Fort Gregg-Adams School Liaison Officer Chaundra Taswell said. "Our military children are resilient, adaptable, and unafraid of the unknown. I liken this to three words, their selflessness and willingness to care for others, their service and desire to provide for others, and their sacrifices, giving up something for a greater good. They are truly our unsung heroes serving in their own way right next to their parents and loved ones."
Throughout April, Prince George County Public Schools' Facebook page will highlight the essential role our military-connected students and families serve in shaping the culture of our school community, viewable at https://www.facebook.com/princegeorgeschools/. Our schools will also host their own celebrations and recognitions to celebrate military students and families within their campuses.
PGCPS also encourages the community to get involved with the Month of the Military Child by participating in "Purple Up! For Military Kids" on April 19, 2023. The community is invited to wear purple alongside PGCPS students and staff in a show of support for military students. The color purple signifies all branches of the United States military, the Air Force, Army, Coast Guard, Marine Corps, Navy, and Space Force.
To learn more about the Month of the Military Child, visit the U.S. Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA) website at https://www.dodea.edu/dodeacelebrates/military-child-month.cfm.