"Do you like pickles?" one of the children asked Columbus Division of Police Officer James Poole when he read for our Books & Badges program this week at Riverside Green Elementary School. That's a new one! The kids were fantastic, asking ALL sorts of questions about a variety of topics. As usual, the donut question WAS the most popular, but they asked Commander Mike Gray if they spank the prisoners before they put them in jail, asked Acting Commander Tim Myers what his favorite color is, and they were determined to learn everything they possibly could about Officer Geoffrey Masters--they were even trying to see out the window and get his license plate. "Are you his secretary?" they asked our volunteer.
"Yes, I AM," she replied.
"Oh!! Will you sign this for us, please?" She did so happily. Safe to say he utterly charmed them. In fact, the next day when that class saw Acting Commander Myers, one student asked if he knew Officer Masters and if he was "his homie." A/C Myers said he was even better--he was his brother, his brother in blue. Since the class was at recess, they then proceeded to ask A/C Myers questions until it started raining and they had to go inside.
Like last week's reading at Daniel Wright, this was another joint-agency event. This time we welcomed Sergeant Jonathon Todhunter from the Columbus Regional Airport Authority. He read to two classes and everyone had a great time. This is the first time he's been able to read to a class outside the John Glenn Columbus International Airport, and while it was different, it was still similar. We were thrilled to have him, and so were the kids: the first-grade class he read to made him a two-foot tall thank you card.
That expression of kindness and gratitude was very apparent at Riverside. We had many teachers thank us for coming and tell us how excited the children are. One told us that when police officers came into the school in the past, the kids wondered what bad thing had happened, but now they're excited to see them.
On our first day there, as we walked to a classroom, we heard a child ask his teacher, "Is that my cop?"
"No, yours is coming on Thursday."
One student made a paper fan for Officer Masters so he could fan himself because he'd worn a sweater that day and was hot. On Thursday, when a class found out Acting Commander Myers is in the Army, they spontaneously gave him the Happy Veteran's Day drawings they'd been working on. On Tuesday, Deputy Chief Tim Becker and Lieutenant Chris Lieb made the kids so happy that they each got group hugs.
In one class, the officers stopped signing books and answering questions twice so two different students could sing to them. One song was about how much he loved the police, the other song was about how he wanted to be an officer when he grows up. Both were heartfelt and beautiful.
It is such a privilege to do these events. Thank you to everyone involved with them--the schools, children, teachers, officers, our sponsor, and our volunteers.