Six Hilliard Davidson High School students who recently have enlisted in the armed forces will not have to look far for support.
Davidson's efforts to help students who will serve in the military and students whose family members are active military members have earned the school a Purple Star Award from the Ohio chapter of the Military Interstate Children's Compact Commission, known by its acronym, MIC3.
Davidson met a series of requirements to achieve the Purple Star Award and was one of 94 schools among all grade levels in Ohio to receive the designation in the sixth and most recent class, said Pete LuPiba, the commissioner of the Ohio MIC3 and founder of the state's Purple Star program to honor "military-friendly" schools.
MIC3 is designed to assist the children of active-duty military personnel meet educational challenges, such as the frequent withdrawal and enrollment in different school districts and transitioning into public schools after a parent's retirement of discharge, LuPiba said. From 2006 to 2014, all 50 states worked with the U.S. Department of Defense to craft MIC3 language and policy, he said.
The Purple Star Award was an outgrowth of that effort, LuPiba said.
"Purple Star was started because of a vision of what a military-friendly school should look like," he said. "Every school can have a Veterans Day program, but what kind of other activities (does it have)? ... There is so much more that can be done."
As it was, Davidson already was doing some of the required activities, including a military-signing day, said Lori Mongolier, Davidson's guidance secretary and the school's Purple Star liaison.
Similar to athletics signings, Davidson first held a military-signing ceremony in May 2018.
The school's third signing day will be in May, and the six students expected to participate are seniors Corey Boltinghouse, Christian Lopez and Dominic Townsel and junior Jaxsen Zimmerman, all U.S. Army National Guard enlistees, senior Adrian Richards, a U.S. Marine Corps enlistee, and senior Jordan Dillon a U.S. Navy enlistee.
Other activities are more recent.
In October 2019, Davidson organized Military Appreciation Night at a football game at which veterans were honored at halftime, Davidson's players wore Ohio National Guard football jerseys and Lt. Gov. Jon Husted participated in a pregame coin toss and addressed the crowd.
In November 2019, Davidson unveiled a Wildcats in the Military veterans board in the school's common area.
Wildcats in the Military includes the names of known veterans who graduated from Davidson since it opened as Hilliard High School in 1989 and those who graduated from the former Hilliard High School, which now is Hilliard City Schools' Hilliard Station Sixth Grade School at 5600 Scioto Darby Road.
Davidson also has established a process to help connect students of a veteran's family with a variety of resources, Mongolier said.
"We are so appreciative of the sacrifice of our military families and our students who take it upon themselves to answer the call," Davidson principal Aaron Cookson said. "(Our activities) are but a small way to give back to them."
Davidson is the only school in the district to earn the Purple Star Award, Mongolier said.
LuPiba presented the award to Cookson and Mongolier at a Jan. 24 boys basketball game. State Sen. Stephanie Kunze (R-Hilliard), a former Hilliard City Council member, also recognized the school with an Ohio Senate proclamation.
Davidson was one of 94 schools among all grade levels in Ohio to receive the designation in the sixth and latest Purple Star class, LuPiba said.
In all, 298 schools in Ohio have achieved the Purple Star Award since the first class of schools was recognized in 2017, he said.
The Purple Star Award is a three-year designation, so the first schools to receive the award must apply this year to renew it, LuPiba said.
Appointed eight years ago as commissioner of Ohio's MIC3 by former Gov. John Kasich and then reappointed by Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine, LuPiba said, 12 states have established Purple Star programs.
Meanwhile, Mongolier is working to identify more graduates who are veterans to include on Davidson's Wildcats in the Military board. To submit names of veterans who are Davidson or Hilliard High School graduates, go to hilliardschools.org/hdv/military-family-resources.
That number should increase by six with Davidson's newest enlistees, for whom enlistment means various things.
"I've always wanted a brother and now I have a lot of brothers," said Zimmerman, 17.
Lopez, 17, said he wants to be the first in his family to serve in the military and attend college.
The oldest of three siblings, "(enlisting) gave me the benefit of going to college," as well as an opportunity to continue playing soccer, he said.
An opportunity to play college sports attracted Boltinghouse, 18, too.
Boltinghouse, who plays second base and catcher for the Davidson baseball team, said he has not selected a college but hopes to attend a junior college and play baseball.
Richards said he is following in the footsteps of many men in his family who served in the military.
"I wanted in the Marines because they have (such a high) amount of respect," Richards said.