At one Fairfax Co. college, army youngsters bond over shared challenges


April is the Month of the Military Child, throughout which youngsters whose dad and mom serve are honored for his or her sacrifices. Wednesday was the Fairfax County’s “Purple-Up Day,” when everybody wears purple to honor these college students.

Students at Clermont Elementary School honor college students of army households by sporting purple on Purple-Up Day.
(WTOP/Scott Gelman)

WTOP/Scott Gelman

Students at Clermont Elementary School honor college students of army households on Purple-Up Day.
(WTOP/Scott Gelman)

WTOP/Scott Gelman

A bulletin board at Clermont Elementary School honor college students of army households.
(WTOP/Scott Gelman)

WTOP/Scott Gelman

Students at Clermont Elementary School honor students of military families.
Students at Clermont Elementary School honor college students of army households on Purple-Up Day.
(WTOP/Scott Gelman)

WTOP/Scott Gelman

Standing in a courtyard exterior the college Wednesday afternoon, Clermont Elementary Principal Roxanne Salata confronted a bunch of dozens of scholars.

She advised the group of scholars, whose households are within the army, that they’re courageous.

School leaders perceive that generally their dad and mom are deployed, she mentioned, and generally they might have to maneuver round so much.

“We thanks for doing that,” Salata mentioned. “And all of these superb qualities that you just possess by being resilient.”

Then, the scholars, who had been sporting purple and holding American flags, marched via the Fairfax County college’s hallways. Their friends sat exterior their lecture rooms, clapping because the group handed by.

April is the Month of the Military Child, throughout which youngsters whose dad and mom serve are honored for his or her sacrifices. Wednesday was the college district’s “Purple-Up Day,” when everybody wears purple to honor these college students.

But at Clermont, honoring these college students whose households serve goes past a day or month. Last yr, the college launched a Military Kids Club, enabling the youngsters to bond over their shared experiences.

“My dad’s been deployed earlier than and so have many others,” mentioned sixth-grader Olivia Olsen, whose dad is within the Air Force as a civil engineer. “We’ve all moved and needed to restart and make new mates.”

The membership began final yr, with the thought to convey military-connected college students collectively. The group meets as soon as a month on the finish of the college day.

Sometimes, the scholars play video games tied to traits that college leaders assume they symbolize. Rigor, grit, cooperation and resiliency are amongst them.

They learn tales with comparable themes. One was a few horse who served throughout a conflict and described among the challenges confronted, Olsen mentioned.

Some of their dad and mom volunteer with the membership.

“I received concerned with the membership, as a result of I assumed it could be good to hold round individuals who have skilled the identical issues as me and know what it’s prefer to be a army child,” Olsen mentioned.

Part of understanding what meaning, Olsen mentioned, is “selecting up your life and shifting it some other place, however you’re not capable of take your mates with you.”

Now in its second yr, the membership has about 70 college students. The college’s inhabitants is 545, Salata mentioned.

The suggestions on the membership has been resoundingly constructive. Some dad and mom have advised college leaders that it’s boosting college students’ sense of belonging.

In one case, English for Speakers of Other Languages instructor Tiffany Velishka mentioned, a guardian mentioned that simply seeing the purple dandelion army youngsters membership signal when getting into the college “made him really feel snug right here.”

“It’s simply that little connection that form of opens the door to assist with transitions and the sense of belonging,” Velishka mentioned.

Student Andrew Blomberg, whose father can also be within the Air Force, mentioned he appears ahead to the membership’s month-to-month conferences. They present an escape from the stresses of not understanding what the long run might maintain.

“Being within the army, you need to transfer plenty of locations and say goodbye to mates,” Blomberg mentioned. “And your dad and mom or your loved ones could be gone for some time. So that’s fairly unhappy.”

Those challenges stay, however the membership reminds college students that they’re not dealing with them alone. Blomberg mirrored on that as he walked via the hallways Wednesday afternoon, along with his friends cheering him on.

“I’m proud to be a army youngster and [have] a army household,” he mentioned.

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