The gymnasium of Hinesville’s Frank Long Elementary School buzzed with excitement Monday morning as students, faculty and community leaders celebrated the school’s achievement of being named as a Georgia Military Flagship School.
Frank Long is the fifth school in Liberty County bestowed with the honor of being named a Military Flagship School and now joins the ranks with Liberty Elementary, Waldo Pafford Elementary, Midway Middle School, and Bradwell Institute High School.
Liberty County Schools Superintendent Dr. Franklin Perry, Georgia State Superintendent Richard Woods, Fort Stewart Garrison Leadership, Liberty County civic leaders, school board cabinet members, and students and families were in attendance for the May 15 recognition ceremony.
“After we received our first Military Flagship School recognition in 2018, we said that our goal was to make every Liberty County school a Military Flagship School,” Perry said. “Certainly, we are on our way now that we have five.”
Appointed by the Georgia Department of Education, the Military Flagship Award recognizes Georgia schools which go above and beyond to provide a supportive environment accommodating the unique needs of military-connected students and Families.
During the ceremony, Woods noted he isn’t a stranger to presenting the Military Flagship Award in Liberty County and is pleased to bring Liberty County that much closer to becoming a Military Flagship district.
“Becoming a Military Flagship school doesn’t happen without intent,” Woods said. “It does not happen without purpose…. Thank you for taking that extra step. This is not something you have to do but this is something you do for all your students. Specifically saying that this is what you do for your military students goes a long way.”
All schools throughout the state of Georgia are eligible to apply for the Military Flagship School Award. Once received, applications are evaluated by a committee that includes active-duty service members, garrison School Liaison Officers, school district staff and members of the Military Interstate Children’s Compact Commission.
“This is a total package award,” Woods continued. “This is something we offer for our schools here in the state of Georgia that is designated to symbolize that everyone here at Frank Long elementary went above and beyond and took the time to invest in the lives of these young people and their families to make sure they feel welcome and appreciated.”
Kristina Vance, an Army spouse, offered a testimonial during the ceremony commending the Frank Long faculty and staff for welcoming her son Carson into the school.
“As a military family, we feel loved and honored to be part of the Frank Long family as a military family,” Vance said. “We can wholeheartedly say that we love every single one of the teachers, all the kids, and the county. It’s amazing what you all have done here. Frank Long goes above and beyond and we couldn’t be more thankful.”
In addition to welcoming the Vance family with open arms, the school also played an instrumental role in staging a surprise homecoming for her son last August the same day his father, Sgt. 1st Class Cody Vance, returned to Fort Stewart following a deployment to Germany with the 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division.
From Military Family Life counselors to a specialized student ambassador program, Frank Long offers multiple levels of support to incoming and outgoing military families. Additional programs such as the True Explorers student and veteran mentorship program, and the Hiring Our Heroes teacher internship and workforce development program ensure that military children feel connected, cared for, and understood while at school.
Following the ceremony, Fort Stewart-Hunter Army Airfield Deputy to the Garrison Commander Steve Hood, expressed his appreciation for the contributions the school has made to the installation throughout the years.
“Nearly twenty percent of our population here in the Liberty County school district is military connected,” Hood said. “We are grateful for our partnership with this extremely supportive community and feel comfortable knowing that our military students are taken care of in our Liberty County public schools.”
To learn more about military-connected schools in the area, contact the Fort Stewart-Hunter Army Airfield School Liaison Officer at 912-767-6533.