First Lady Dr. Jill Biden announces Whiteman Elementary Student 2 Student® Chapter as MCEC Elite Team of the Year

Col. Daniel Diehl, 509th Bomb Wing commander, celebrates the win of the Elite Team of the Year award with the Whiteman Elementary students and staff at Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri, July 21, 2021. The Military Child Education Coalition® announced Whiteman Elementary as the winning school of the organization’s annual Student 2 Student® Team of the Year competition, which recognizes school teams' contribution assisting and integrating military students in their classrooms. (Courtesy photo by Knob Noster School District)

U.S. Air Force Col. Daniel Diehl, 509th Bomb Wing commander, celebrates the win of the Elite Team of the Year award with the Whiteman Elementary students and staff at Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri, July 21, 2021. The Military Child Education Coalition® announced Whiteman Elementary as the winning school of the organization’s annual Student 2 Student® Team of the Year competition, which recognizes school teams' contribution assisting and integrating military students in their classrooms. (Courtesy photo by Knob Noster School District)

U.S. Air Force Col. Daniel Diehl, 509th Bomb Wing commander, celebrates the win of the Elite Team of the Year award with the Whiteman Elementary students and staff at Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri, July 21, 2021. The Military Child Education Coalition® announced Whiteman Elementary as the winning school of the organization’s annual Student 2 Student® Team of the Year competition, which recognizes school teams' contribution assisting and integrating military students in their classrooms.

U.S. Air Force Col. Daniel Diehl, 509th Bomb Wing commander, celebrates the win of the Elite Team of the Year award with the Whiteman Elementary students and staff at Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri, July 21, 2021. The Military Child Education Coalition® announced Whiteman Elementary as the winning school of the organization’s annual Student 2 Student® Team of the Year competition, which recognizes school teams' contribution assisting and integrating military students in their classrooms. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Victoria Hommel)

U.S. Air Force Col. Daniel Diehl, 509th Bomb Wing commander, celebrates the win of the Elite Team of the Year award with the Whiteman Elementary students and staff at Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri, July 21, 2021. The Military Child Education Coalition® announced Whiteman Elementary as the winning school of the organization’s annual Student 2 Student® Team of the Year competition, which recognizes school teams' contribution assisting and integrating military students in their classrooms.

U.S. Air Force Col. Daniel Diehl, 509th Bomb Wing commander, celebrates the win of the Elite Team of the Year award with the Whiteman Elementary students and staff at Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri, July 21, 2021. The Military Child Education Coalition® announced Whiteman Elementary as the winning school of the organization’s annual Student 2 Student® Team of the Year competition, which recognizes school teams' contribution assisting and integrating military students in their classrooms. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Victoria Hommel)

WHITEMAN AIR FORCE BASE, Mo. --

The Military Child Education Coalition® announced Whiteman Elementary as the winning school of the organization’s annual Student 2 Student® Team of the Year competition July 21.

MCEC officials selected winners at the elementary, middle, and high school level based on team achievements and First Lady Dr. Jill Biden then sent students a surprise video greeting during the virtual award presentation to formally announce the overall Elite Team of the Year.

The average military-connected student moves six to nine times during their K-12 years, according to MCEC data. Military kids are faced with frequent moves and must constantly integrate into a new educational system, new community, and find new friends. The MCEC Student 2 Student® (S2S™) program is a student led organization that welcomes incoming students to their school and helps departing students prepare for their next school with the goal of making military students feel welcomed.

Despite a challenging year full of changes in 2020, students and staff of the Whiteman Elementary S2S team made significant adjustments to support their school during COVID restrictions, according MCEC’s award citation. The team held special tours to help students transition from virtual learning to in-person instruction. New Whiteman Elementary students received backpacks and a checklist as part of their welcome and students who leave the school due to their parents’ military assignment are now provided with a special good bye to remember their time at Whiteman Elementary.

In addition to welcoming new classmates, S2S students practiced leadership skills by leading the Month of the Military Child assemblies, conducting meetings, and building community relationships – for example via a virtual Veterans Day assembly to honor members of the surrounding area. The team also supported the needs of the community by donating funds they earned to the local food bank and when COVID restrictions lifted, they were able to conduct a food drive to provide additional resources to the local food bank.

“The quality of public education serving service members’ families in the Department of Defense continues to emerge as a top tier priority for mission readiness,” said Dr. Jerrod Wheeler, Knob Noster superintendent of schools, in a release. “Quality can be defined in many ways, but few are more important than how students and parents feel about their school, especially following a PCS move. We are incredibly proud of the Whiteman Elementary Team for being recognized by the Military Child Education Coalition as the Elite S2S Team of the Year, and we look forward to our ongoing success in making Knob Noster Public Schools feel like home for all students.”

MCEC® is a 501(c)(3) global nonprofit leadership, service delivery, and advocacy organization. MCEC supports military-connected children by educating, advocating, and collaborating to resolve education challenges associated with the military lifestyle – ranging from frequent moves to new military stations to deployments and family seperations.

“Congratulations to these amazing programs on an amazing year, and thank you to the sponsors and schools for empowering these young leaders to dream big and support their goals,” said MCEC President and CEO Dr. Becky Porter. “Your accomplishments during a challenging year are inspiring. You have raised the bar and set a new standard for excellence that we hope all S2S programs will emulate.”