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Captain Jeremy Vaughn spends a moment with Principal Michael Yancey and Anchored4Life members Alexander Davis, Sophia Vasquez and Evalyn Stockbauer (not in order). | Laura Austin Photos

Richmond School designated as Purple Star School

Sierra Sands Unified School District April Moore, Ed.D. Superintendent

Richmond Elementary School held a Purple Up Day presentation on April 15 in front of the school, with all students and staff present to celebrate the school’s designation as a Purple Star School.

The school held a Celebration Walk for students as they entered at 8:45 and a flag-raising ceremony at 9:15, supported by the China Lake Fire Team. After the flag-raising ceremony, Superintendent Dr. Moore, NAWS Commanding Officer Captain Vaughn, and NAWS School Liaison Officer Jessica Vazquez spoke about support for military-connected families.

“We are proud here at Richmond to be designated as a Purple Star School,” shared Principal Michael Yancey. “Richmond Elementary School has been located on the Naval Air Weapons Station (NAWS) – China Lake since 1955. Richmond has been closely connected to the military community and has a long history of close involvement with our military students and families and their unique challenges for many years. We interface regularly with the base command, the base School Liaison Officer, and our full-time on-campus Military Family Life Counselor. We have had a very active Anchored4Life transition program for the past 4 years, and our school is even featured on the Anchored4Life website under Anchored4Life Program Provides Tools For Kids In Transition.”

“Our schools have a long history of supporting our military-connected students and families, and it is great to have the California Department of Education validate our effective programs with this award,” according to Dr. April Moore, Superintendent of Sierra Sands Unified School District. “It is a testament to the dedicated staff and engaged families that our school continues to thrive after being displaced from their campus due to the earthquake more than four years ago and is awaiting their new facility, which is scheduled to open next school year. The campus and the buildings, while appreciated and important, do not slow us down from achieving great results for our students.”

Captain Jeremy Vaughan stated, “Local schools and Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake have made an incredible team since the first school was established on base in 1945. I am in awe and am incredibly grateful to the SSUSD Team for your continuous focus on excellence in education and the support you provide to our military-connected students. Congratulations on your first Purple Star-certified school.”
Background: “Purple Up!” for Month of the Military Child April is the Month of the Military Child (MOMC), honoring the courage, resiliency and sacrifices made by children in military families. These children adapt to and overcome the challenges, stress and uncertainty that can come with military life, including frequent moves, parental deployments and more. Participating in MOMC activities not only raises awareness of the strength and contribution of military children but also fosters support and appreciation for military families within communities. One way to express support for military children is by wearing purple this month. Purple represents the joint services and is the combined color of all the service branches.
Richmond Elementary School is one of 44 schools statewide selected in 2023-2024 as a California Purple Star School. There are now a total of 127 Purple Star schools in California.

These schools must meet criteria and offer critical transition supports for military-connected students and their families.

Per the California Department of Education, “The California Purple Star School Designation Program (Purple Star Program) seeks to reduce the burden on military-connected students and their families by articulating the most critical transition supports for military-connected students and their families by publicly designating schools that meet certain requirements. The program signals which schools are the most committed and best equipped to meet their unique needs.

The Purple Star Program was designed to help mitigate the challenges of high mobility of military students by setting standards for and publicly designating military-friendly schools. The Purple Star Program’s true value derives from its potential to:

“Centralize and make knowledge accessible, develop stakeholder networks, and support schools in cultivating and communicating cultural competency in supporting military-connected families.”

Purple Richmond Interview
School Board President Bill Farris being interviewed by Channel ABC 23 -KERO Bakersfield Steve Virgen. | Laura Austin Photos