Muncie Central High School (MCHS) was one of 35 Indiana-based schools awarded the Purple Star Nov. 9, 2021, just two days before Veterans Day, for its programs and services designed to honor and serve veterans and their families.
The Purple Star is an award bestowed upon schools that “have displayed a significant commitment to service members, veterans and students and families connected to our nation’s military,” according to a Nov. 9 Indiana Department of Education press release.
In Indiana, of the 682 state-recognized high schools, there are currently only 60 designated with a Purple Star, with MCHS being one of them.
“We’re proud to be recognized as a Purple Star school because of what it does for those families of veterans when we are needed to support their child in our school system,” said Robert Harber, retired master sergeant and Junior ROTC instructor for the Marine Corp at MCHS.
MCHS supports military families through veteran community service and support, such as Stand Downs to prevent veteran homelessness. Through these services, the Muncie Central JROTC directly aids veterans and participates in events to honor them.
“We take these veterans, get them haircuts, get their shots updated [and help with] clothing issues, food bags and hygiene items,” Harber said.
The Muncie Central JROTC also annually participates in the Color Guard United States Marine Corp (USMC) Birthday Celebration and 9/11 Remembrance Day demonstrations including flag retirement, Painting and Field Day and Field of 1000 Flags.
MCHS also serves military families by helping to employ military service members and their immediate families, often by assigning them a point of contact (POC). A POC is a trained individual who acts as a link between the school and the military family.
“These kids may have experienced something at home — maybe their parents are deployed, or maybe they’re just getting moved a lot because mom or dad keep getting deployed,” Harber said. “Even if they’re not in a military family, that’s going to disrupt a kid. The main reason [POCs] are here is to be the advocate for that kid.”
All POCs are required to successfully complete a nine-week training program designed to prepare POC applicants to properly care for and empathize with students in military families.
“I encourage any school in any city to be a Purple Star school,” Harber said. “It should be their patriotic duty to support military families.It might be a reason for someone choosing your school corporation if you have this reward."