Seabee Base, schools join forces to help military children

By Trang Pham-Bui - bio | email

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - For children in military families, high school is a huge adjustment. Those years can be filled with anxiety and challenges, especially for students who are forced to change schools due to moves or deployments.

"It's the new kid. It's being that new child. Just the stress of leaving your last school where you were comfortable and you had friends," said Capt. Ed Brown, the Seabee Base Commander.

To help high school military students feel like they fit-in, the Gulfport Seabee Base is teaming up with south Mississippi school districts. On Monday, the school superintendents signed a memorandum, agreeing to work together to develop programs geared toward helping new military high school students.

The programs include making sure student records are transferred quickly, making it easier for students to sign up for extracurricular activities, and sharing updated information about school events and graduation requirements on the web.

"We want this to be the place that everybody comes, that everybody wants to go. And when they get orders to Gulfport, we want them to feel comfortable and feel confident that their families will be well taken care of," said Capt. Brown.

One support program is already in place in five high schools in Harrison County. Two months ago, the schools started a club made up of civilian and military students. The students help welcome incoming students, and serve as their mentor or even a friend.

"A student coming in from another state is kind of lost," said Harrison County Superintendent Henry Arledge. "I think it's an opportunity for us to assist those boys and girls, and at the same time they will get a better education doing it."

"We want that passion to be there when they come here," said Dr. Mike Tatum, Gulfport School Assistant Superintendent. "The partnership that we offer in the Gulfport School District is for all students, not only for Seabees, but to all students."

The state legislature is considering a bill that would make it easier for military students to transfer to Mississippi schools. For instance, military students who've taken Algebra I in California won't be forced to take the class again when they move to Mississippi. The agreement has already been adopted in more than eleven states.