SISD schools earn awards for commitment to military-connected students

El Paso News

EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) – The Texas Education Agency awarded five Socorro Independent School District schools with the Texas Purple Star Campus Designation for supporting military-connected students and families.

Eastlake High School, Horizon Heights Elementary, Jane A. Hambric School, Desert Wind School, and Robert R. Rojas Elementary are part of a list of 40 schools in SISD that have earned the title.

SISD said it has a long tradition of assisting military-connected families. The district said awards showcase the continuous work and commitment the schools display to meet the unique needs of military-connected students and families.

“It’s very exciting that the district is ahead of the game,” said Carmen Olivas-Graham, SISD Director of Administrative Services. “We have had 40 of our schools designated as Purple Star and now we have five more, so that’s going to be forty-five out of our forty-nine schools.”

Campuses earn the Texas Purple Star Campus Designation by demonstrating that they provide various resources and assistance, including a campus-based military liaison, a web page that includes information for military-connected students and their families, a campus transition program, participation in Month of the Military Child and a partnership with a school liaison officer to encourage and provide opportunities for active-duty military members.

Team SISD serves 4,854 military-connected students and each campus has a military-liaison responsible for reaching out to those families, especially during these unprecedented times to help connect them to other military families and district-sponsored programs.

“It’s nice that as a district as a whole we have so many campuses that did receive that designation because it sends a clear message to all the military-connected families that we should be the district of choice,” said Robert R. Rojas Elementary Principal Jennifer Marquez. “On top of every other success, something that is incredibly important to us is that when those families do get here our doors are open to them. We want them to join this elite district.”

To assist with the social and emotional needs of military-connected students, SISD maximizes support services by providing a military and family life counselor and access to local agencies such as NAMI, the YWCA, Child Guidance Center, local daycare providers and the Paso del Norte Family Leadership Council.

“To take the time to make the students feel special and wanted goes a long way, especially for the younger kids, because they are constantly moving,” said Michael Silva, Jane A. Hambric School parent liaison and military program coordinator. “So, to be able to provide that support and those resources to the parents is very helpful to them.”

Having that Texas Purple Star Campus Designation is a beam of light for military families moving into the El Paso region and having that connection at the schools is everything to a lot of these families, said Eastlake High School Principal Gilbert Martinez.

“I attribute the honor to the team we have here at Eastlake High School and the connection that we have with our military families,” Martinez said. “That’s really what we aim to embrace here — a culture of family and to let military families know that SISD is home for them.”

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