FORT POLK — The military is a vital part of the community at North Polk Elementary School.

April was Month of the Military Child and North Polk Elementary School made sure its military students were recognized and honored. The month kicked off with each class tying purple ribbons to the trees at the front of the school to honor the children who support their military loved ones. As they tied the ribbons, North Polk’s military family life counselor, Rachel Steele, explained the significance of the purple ribbons and the meaning behind the Month of the Military Child.

Student Colt West from Sara Boyd’s kindergarten class shared that his dad is a “super hero,” but not a pretend one like Captain America. “He is a real life hero that keeps us safe and his uniform is not red and blue — its camo.”

Special guests visited to assist classes in tying the ribbons and to show their support. Telisha Thomas, spouse of Garrison Commander, Col.  Jarrett Thomas II, gave a salute with Rebecca Banks’ class. Military police thanked children for their service and Spc. Amanda Thomas gave a thumbs up to Heather Rankens’ kindergarten students.

Students responded with excitement that this month is all about honoring the role they play in the military.

Principal Elsee Ashworth passed out special purple wristbands that read “NPE Honors our Military, Kids Serve Too,” to all students. NPE permitted students to “purple up” and wear purple every Friday to honor military students. LA4 teachers and school staff showed support by wearing purple shirts that read: “We believe in the Brave, Strong, Resilient, Courageous, Ever-changing Military Child.”

Students and staff decorated maps, entitled “All the Places I have Been” to share their adventures with one another, learn fun facts about new places and celebrate the journeys made by both military and local children. Students bonded over the activity and new friendships were created.

The Month of the Military Child celebration concluded with a recognition ceremony for the students. Thomas and Telisha Thomas, Command Sgt. Maj. Jerry Dodson and his spouse, Kim, surprised both kindergarten and LA-4 students with a reading of “Hero Mom” and “Hero Dad.”

In addition to the readings, the students and garrison command team joined to recite the Pledge of Allegiance and sing the national anthem and the Army song. Afterwards, students were thanked by the garrison command team for their service and sacrifice.

A time of sharing and questions left North Polk Elementary students with special memories of being acknowledged and honored for all they do. Students saluted the command team and received a salute in return as the ceremony came to a close. Thomas and Dodson donated the inscribed books that were read to the NPE Library. Librarian Erika Russell, music and art teacher Tara Jourdon, and physical education teacher Kelly Dillon were instrumental in the success of the recognition ceremony and were pinned with purple ribbons by Thomas and Dodson for their efforts to support their students.

“North Polk Elementary is proud to honor our military students in April and throughout the year. We will continue to support our military and welcome them as part of our community and school family,” said Ashworth.