Yesterday marked our first in-person Books & Badges reading at Columbus City Schools since March 13, 2020, when the pandemic closed schools across the state, and what a great day it was! Twelve different Columbus Division of Police officers read to every student at Windsor STEM Academy in South Linden--more than 300 children, pre-K to sixth grade--and the CPD Therapy Dog Unit also paid a visit.
We had such a wonderful time! The kids were amazing, so polite and attentive. The officers read to them--and every child got to keep a copy of the book--then the children were able to ask questions about anything they wanted.
There were easy questions like "Why did you become a police officer." The officers all said they wanted to people. Many added that it was an interesting job, that they got to meet lots of people, that they didn't want to sit behind a desk, and that they were always doing something new. There were also tough questions such as, "Why do white police officers shoot back people?" The officers were grateful for the opportunity to speak directly to the children and answer any questions they had.
One child asked Acting Commander Tim Myers if he'd ever searched a house before.
"I've searched lots of houses," he replied.
"What's the weirdest thing you've ever found?" the boy asked.
"Lots of things. One time we found an alligator in a bathtub." There were exclamations of delight throughout the room.
"This is is why I want to be a cop when I grow up!"
Starfish Vice-President Pete Casuccio patrols the neighborhood where Windsor STEM is located. He spoke to the first graders about whether or not they were scared on their first day and assured them it was OK to be scared plenty on first days, especially on their first day of high school and college. He asked them to make sure to say hi to him if they see him in his cruiser.
After the question and answer session, a popular part of our program is for the officers to autograph the children's books--something the children eagerly accepted. We even had donut stamps for the officers to use to personalize their books, which the kids loved.
It was a wonderful day! Thank you to Windsor STEM for inviting us, their amazing students, and the officers who came to read. If you're an educator who would like us to read to your class, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.