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3 Great Falls schools honored for commitment to military students and families

Holy Spirit Catholic School in Great Falls
Posted at 10:03 AM, Jan 07, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-07 12:03:36-05

GREAT FALLS — The Montana Office of Public Instruction announced on Thursday the 2021-2022 Purple Star School Awardees, and three of them are in Great Falls: Holy Spirit Catholic School, Morningside Elementary School, and Central Catholic High School.

The award is given to schools that advocate for military families and exemplify military-friendly practices.

“We are super proud of our being in the military community and we’re super honored that we were awarded this award” said Jenifer Thomas, the development director at Holy Spirit.

She continued, “It’s really exciting because Great Falls is a military community and we have quite a few families that attend our school. We have military retirees and active military members that work in our school, so it’s just a super great award that showcases what Holy Spirit has to offer for our military community”

Year-round, the school hosts events to celebrate the military.

“We hold assemblies, we just had one to show the kids how to raise and lower the flag. Beautiful ceremony. We had a big celebration on Veterans Day, we celebrated those who work here and those who have served. Then of course in April for 'Purple Up Month,' we celebrate and showcase families that attend Holy Spirit.”

The Montana Office of Public Instruction Montana’s 2021-2022 Purple Star School Awardees are:

  • Flathead High School in Kalispell
  • Holy Spirit Catholic School in Great Falls
  • Morningside Elementary School in Great Falls
  • Great Falls Central Catholic High School in Great Falls
  • Ben Steele Middle School in Billings
  • Townsend School District in Townsend

The 2021- 2022 Purple Star Champion Awardees are:

  • Jennifer Bernhart of Missoula (Community Supporter)
  • Hunter Jones of Billings (Educator)
  • Joe Firda of Great Falls (US Air National Guard and Community Supporter)
  • Kim Ray of Great Falls (Principal)

OPI said in a news release that the Purple Star Award distinguishes Montana schools and individual champions that have displayed extraordinary commitment to supporting our military students and their families.

To qualify as a Purple Star School, each school must meet specific designation criteria and are given support through the state and national Military Interstate Children’s Compact Commission to continue strong support of our military-connected students and families. This is the second year MIC3 and OPI will be recognizing Montana’s military-friendly schools with the Purple Star School Award. This is the first year recognizing and awarding Montana Purple Star Champions.

“As Montana’s Military Interstate Children’s Compact Commissioner, I am incredibly proud as we work in the state and across the nation to build up those that fervently seek opportunities to go above and beyond to serve our military children and their families,” stated Retired Sergeant, Commissioner Ray Shaw.

“Montana is one of the first states in the nation to proudly recognize our Purple Star Schools and Champions through the nationally recognized Military Interstate Children’s Compact Commission,” State Superintendent Elsie Arntzen said. “We honor the constant commitment of these schools and individuals as they support our military-connected students and families.”

Last year, the Purple Star was awarded to Glacier High School, Loy Elementary School, North Middle School, CMR High School, and Valley Christian School.

The Purple Star School designation lasts three years at which time the school is eligible for redesignation. These schools have gone above and beyond being military friendly, through a maintained commitment to serve their military students and continually honor the military family sacrifice.