With help from the state superintendent of schools, Frank Long Elementary School unfurled a banner declaring it a Military Flagship school.
State Superintendent Richard Woods presented the banner to Frank Long Principal Dr. Debra Sukaratana in front of parents, students, faculty and the Liberty County Board of Education.
“They go through so much,” Dr. Sukaratana said of children in military families, “and they are expected to succeed in school.”
The school has someone on staff who works directly with students of military parents who might be going through a tough time and can relate to what the student is going through, Sukaratana added.
Kristina Vance, the mother of a Frank Long student and wife of a Fort Stewart soldier, pointed out how the school has helped her son Carson.
“He really had to adapt,” she said. “His educators have become his second family. He feels just loved.”
Carson, decked out in fatigues for the ceremony, had a loss in the family and his mother said he wanted to go to school the next day because of the connection he had with the faculty and staff.
“When we say we feel loved and honored, to be a part of the Frank Long family as a military family, we wholeheartedly say we love every single one of them, the administration, the teachers, the kids, the county,” she said. “It is amazing what you guys have done here and you go above and beyond.”
Superintendent Woods and Liberty County Board of Education Chair Verdell Jones each have a deep personal tie to the plight of military children. Woods is a self-proclaimed Navy brat, and Jones’ husband was in the Air Force.
“Those of us who served in the military or who have military children, we know what that’s like,” Woods said. “I remember moving multiple, multiple times. It was always kind of a scary thing. That meant I had left all the friends I had made and was coming to a new place where I didn’t know anyone. This is something that is very special.”
Vance noted that the flower of the military child is the dandelion because it takes root wherever it is planted.
“We love our military families,” Jones said. “Our goal is to take care of our children but also to take care of our parents.”
Liberty County Schools Superintendent Dr. Franklin Perry praised the Frank Long faculty and staff for its recognition.
“This is such an exciting time for our school district,” he said. “Our goal is to educate every child with a high level of education. Thank you for taking care of all our children, but particularly our military children.
Woods said there are a lot of things going on in the lives of military families and schools should make them feel welcome.
“That means for many individuals there comes a time when Uncle Sam says you have to go to another base,” he said.
Woods also said many military families move back to Georgia because of the reception they get from schools and communities.
Frank Long Elementary joins Waldo Pafford Elementary, Snelson-Golden Middle, Midway Middle and Bradwell Institute as being named a Military Flagship school.
“I think we’re getting closer and closer to being a military flagship district,” Woods said.