Redding Elementary students show appreciation to police officers

Wearing paper police hats, badges, belts and handcuffs, six students were ready to welcome local officers to their classroom.

After enjoying some snacks, the students in Cassandra Samons’ class at Seymour-Redding Elementary School and the police officers played some fun games Thursday afternoon during a police appreciation party. This week was National Police Week.

The first game involved placing a spoon in their mouths and moving jelly beans from a bowl to a plate.

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Rick Meyer, an officer with the Jackson County Sheriff’s Department, said he had never played the game before. Even though he didn’t win, he still had fun.

“I’m hoping to come back next year to be the champion,” he said, smiling, “It was a good time.”

Jack Hauer, a school resource officer for Seymour Community Schools, was the winner.

Cpl. Devin Cornwell and Officer Ben Miller with the Seymour Police Department both said they would practice more for their next jelly bean game.

“I didn’t come out with the W today. A lot of participation trophies for me,” Miller said, smiling.

Cornwell said he might have to come up with a strategy.

“I just tried to beat them, get competitive about it,” he said of the fierce competition. “I didn’t win, but it was fun either way. I’m going to have to go home and start practicing some of this stuff.”

The students and officers then paired up to make as many Minifigs as they could in two minutes, and the final game was placing Legos on a tongue depressor and seeing who could hold it in their mouth the longest.

Samons said it was important to her class to recognize police officers.

“We collaborated and talked about what we could do to show the police that we appreciate them because we see them in the building quite a bit,” she said, referring to school resource officers. “A lot of (students) know who they are, but they don’t really necessarily have the best relationship with them, so we want to build on that.”

She thought the interactive activities accomplished that.

“This is a great way for them to just build relationships with community leaders,” Samons said. “It’s a great way to show them that these people are people just like we are, and they are normal guys that like to have snacks and play games. I think the Legos is a way that all of the guys can agree is a common interest.”

Cornwell said events like the party help officers set a positive tone with kids at a young age.

“We just really appreciate them putting this together. It was awesome,” he said. “It’s something they obviously didn’t have to do that they spent their time and their money to do, and we can’t really express how much we appreciate people in the community doing stuff like this. It’s nice to be able to come out and just hang out and enjoy some time with them.”

Miller said the community’s support of police officers is fantastic.

“The little things mean a lot,” he said. “The rapport with the children, that way, they know they can come to us and not fear us. They know that we’re here to help, and we take advantage of any opportunity we can get.”

Hauer, who has been a police officer for more than 40 years, said he likes being a school resource officer for the five Seymour elementary schools.

“It means everything,” he said. “I get to come and play and work with these kids every day. It’s my dream retirement job.”

Seeing the kids grow and develop is one of his favorite parts of the job.

“It’s just a pleasure to watch what the staff here can do for the kids,” Hauer said. “The staff here is great. Redding is very lucky to have the staff that they do.”

Seymour Officer Chadd Rogers said the party was a good way to get to know the students and answer their questions.

He appreciated being invited.

“With today’s society, you don’t always see that in certain communities,” Rogers said. “Luckily in Seymour, we’ve got a lot of appreciation. It’s good.”

Meyer had a good time, too.

“It’s great for the kids that they get to know the officers, get to spend time with them, have fun with them, play games with them,” he said. “A lot of times, they don’t see us unless it’s a bad situation, so any time we can be a positive influence on the kids, it’s always good.”

Student Weston Root said the party was important to the class because police officers help save lives.

He said he liked eating with the officers and building Minifigs.

“They do so much for us that we have to do something for them,” he said.