WHEELER ARMY AIRFIELD, Hawaii - The 2008 Joint Venture in Education Forum (JVEF) Norbert Commendation Award was bestowed on Wheeler Middle School, the first middle school to earn this honor. The purpose of the award is to recognize exceptional Hawaii Public Schools for their quality assistance and support of military students. The award represents a "stamp of excellence" for schools that are "military friendly." More than 95 percent of the students at Wheeler Middle School are military family members. To earn the award, Wheeler Middle had to prepare a one-hour presentation and a tour of the school demonstrating how it had met criteria. A review committee, consisting of JVEF board members, evaluated the applications submitted by Hawaii's public schools. The Norbert Commendation required schools to meet six benchmarks: 1) Provide transition services that assisted military-connected and other transitioning students and families to experience a smooth transition into the new school; 2) Have a Web site with current information about the school and its programs, and be an active participant of the JVEF and its initiatives; 3) Have military parents who are actively engaged in parent organizations or participate as volunteers in parent activities; 4) Make reasonable accommodations for highly mobile students in curricular requirements, enrollment in special programs, athletics and involvement in other school opportunities that are often closed to mobile students; 5) Be an active participant of the JVEF and its initiatives; and6) Have a record of developing and maintaining a safe environment for all students. Previous winners of the Norbert Commendation Award are Radford High School, Leilehua High School and Lehua Elementary School. The administration, faculty, staff, student body and families of Wheeler Middle School were officially congratulated during the 2008 JVEF Annual Meeting, Aug. 28, at the Hale Koa Hotel in Waikiki.