CINCINNATI -- Two Hamilton County high schools are being recognized by the state of Ohio for their commitment to military families.
The Department of Education awarded the Purple Star to Archbishop Moeller High School and William Henry Harrison High School. The award recognizes schools that take extra steps to support students and families connected to the armed forces.
Ethan Cepluch is a senior at Moeller High School. His father is in the U.S. Air Force. Cepluch said the brotherhood and family at Moeller helped him big time last year.
“It didn’t really hit me until I had to settle down into a natural school routine,” Cepluch said.
In July 2018, right before Cepluch started his junior year, his dad deployed to Kuwait with the Air Force.
“A lot of times, as guys especially, we’re not really supposed to talk about stuff like that, or a lot of people don’t ask,” Cepluch said.
Cepluch didn’t have to worry about starting the conversation at Moeller. The school has a designated liaison for students in military families who makes sure teachers and staff check in with students like Cepluch.
“To have a teacher go out of their way and ask how you’re doing, how’s the family, and stuff like that goes a long way,” Cepluch said.
Science teacher and Moeller grad Sean Leugers knows the toll of active duty service.
“It’s tough. It’s really tough,” Leugers said. “And you feel like you’re all on your own. And the worst thing that can happen is being all on your own.”
Leugers spent 13 years in the U.S. Marine Corps, and that’s why he makes sure the entire school comes together to support students with family members in the service.
"If we have a community, we’re going to share this burden together. You’re not on your own. You’re not going to get left behind,” Leugers said.
Dave Faller, Social Studies department chair at Moeller, helps organize the annual Veterans Day ceremony at the school. Faller brings in WWII vets and other Moeller alums who have served or are serving.
Faller said bringing in vets offers a chance to say thank you and educates students.
“It’s very important. It’s our history. It’s our traditions. We have to understand how we got to where we are," Faller said. "There may come a time in the future when these guys are asked to make a sacrifice on behalf of the general welfare,”
Ethan Cepluch’s dad, Chief Master Sergeant Bryan Cepluch, returned safe and sound to Cincinnati last January and is back to work at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. Ethan Cepluch plans to go to college next year and follow his father’s lead by pursuing either Army or Air Force ROTC.
“I’ve always kind of wanted to serve or help out in some way,” he said.