On May 10, 2023, White County High School received the Tennessee Purple Star School Award recognizing it as a Military Friendly School for the 2023 cohort.
The Tennessee PSSA is provided to military-friendly schools who display a major commitment to serving military-connected families and students. WCHS Principal Greg Wilson identified the recognition program, in October 2022, as an opportunity to shine outside traditional areas and assigned the JROTC Senior Army Instructor, LTC Aaron Johnson the task of making WCHS military friendly. Having recently retired from the Army, LTC Johnson was up to the task.
Traditionally, the Tennessee Purple Star School Award was designed to highlight military-friendly schools that show a major commitment to serving students and families directly connected to our nation’s military. Likewise, a majority of the schools in Tennessee that receive the PSSA are located in an area like Clarksville that have a constant rotation of military dependents as students. However, in addition to being able to identify and assist students that are military affiliated, a school like WCHS can also receive the PSSA if they show a commitment to improving the lives of military families in their community. This is where the WCHS JROTC is beginning to excel. With its curriculum geared heavily toward Service Learning, the JROTC has teamed up with the American Legion Sparta Post 99 to improve the quality of life for veterans of White County.
Over the past two years the WCHS JROTC has conducted two separate canned food drives, easily collecting over 3,000 canned goods and non-perishable foods items that are directly donated to the American Legion to be distributed to veterans in need. Likewise, the JROTC now conducts an annual Veterans Day Ceremony at the high school and more recently a Vietnam Veterans Appreciation Ceremony. Additionally, the JROTC Color Guard and Cadets participate in various military focused events to include a 9/11 Ceremony, marching in the Veterans Day Parade, etc.
White County High School was only one of 27 schools in the 2023 cohort awarded the Purple Star School Award and received the military friendly designation. This is quite a significant accomplishment considering there are 1,700 elementary, middle, and high schools throughout Tennessee. As an PSSA awardee, WCHS received a special Purple Star School banner to hang with pride in a prominent location. To maintain their military friendly status, WCHS needs to reapply every two years, have a point of contact at the school that military-affiliated families can contact for guidance, have resources on their school website that are geared toward helping military affiliated students, and continue to promote school involvement and collaboration in military friendly activities.
WCHS plans to maintain this new designation for years to come and continue to lead the way for Upper Cumberland high schools.
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