It started with a simple idea...

"When a students who is currently in high school joins the military while still in school, a school-wide announcement could be made separate from the everyday announcements by calling them a Pirate Patriot and what branch of service they joined. Also, allow them to wear a stole at graduation depicting their branch of service."

When our young adults make a pledge to protect our country and possibly give their lives so that we may enjoy our precious freedoms, it's worth taking pause. At Pike County Schools (GA), an idea was submitted to their annual "Treasure Hunt" to recognize these students. Michael Duncan, Pike County Schools Superintendent, recognized a quick win right away and the idea quickly became one of their top ideas.

"We were not adequately honoring students electing to serve our country with enlistment in the armed forces after graduation."

- Michael Duncan, Pike County Schools Superintendent

The original idea was to provide students an "active duty" stole that could be worn at graduation. But the design team, after interviewing students and parents from previous graduating classes, pivoted to include a "signing day" ceremony with a military branch stole presentation.

The military signing ceremony is now a part of the Pike County High School's spring graduation activities. The school district partnered with regional recruiters from all branches to help and in the end, the recruiters have provided banners for the event and stoles for the students.

It was easy to gage the reaction to this decision as the thunderous applause that erupted when these students walked across the stage at graduation was amazing! After the graduation, the students were interviewed to reflect on the experience.

"I just wanted to say that I really appreciated the signing and the picture for the paper. I really enjoyed the acknowledgement and I wanted to say thank you and please continue doing it."                                                   

- Ashley Middleton, Pike County High School Graduate, Class of 2019