Thomasville Primary School honors civil servants
On a day remembered for those who made the ultimate sacrifice, Thomasville Primary School honored the ones who continue to serve their community.
TPS on Wednesday morning welcomed first responders for its annual 9/11 remembrance as a way to give thanks to all the men and women who make their community safe every day. Unlike previous years, when the day centered around the national tragedy on Sept. 11, 2001, Wednesday's focus highlighted the efforts of dedicated people closer to home.
"We changed it around this year because we felt the kids at this age don't need to be told about something they don't remember that was a bad thing," said Assistant Principal Aaron Cline. "We changed it to community helpers to try and get something positive out of it."
For the last decade, TPS honored 9/11 by inviting local law enforcement and firemen to the campus in the morning where they would meet and greet children as they were entering the school. Wednesday's remembrance centered around safety education and building bonds within the community.
"These kids weren't even born then and they don't realize the importance of what today is, that people who serve the public gave their lives to do their job," said Sgt. Ronnie Foster with the Davidson County Sheriff's Office. "I enjoy coming out and talking to the kids and just letting them know what we do."
Speaking to children about the importance of safety, Foster emphasized not talking to strangers and listening to one's parents, especially when in crowded stores or in public. Foster fielded questions from inquisitive students wanting to know what it's like to be a police officer and what a taser is.
"One of my primary jobs is childhood safety," said Foster, a former school resource officer. "I want to help educate them on life and being safe so they can live to be old like me."
After hearing Foster's presentation, children ventured outside where police cruisers, fire trucks and an ambulance awaited them. Thomasville police officers, firemen and first responders with Davidson County EMS showed off their gear to wide-eyed children who couldn't wait to see the inside of a police car or sit in the back of an ambulance.
"This gives the kids an idea of what law enforcement is all about and what police officers are like," Patrol Officer Jason Rowe said. "It allows them to meet the police officers and form a bond with us. It lets them step away from the typical 'police officers are bad’ and they get to know us for the good and get to know who we are."
Rowe began a career in law enforcement following 9/11 and understands the responsibility associated with wearing the badge.
"I was 15 feet off the ground on a forklift when [9/11] happened," said Rowe. "I went to law enforcement memorial last week on my days off and it definitely was a reminder. It brought back a lot of memories. [Being a police officer] means a lot because it gives me an opportunity to carry on their name and what they wanted to do. I'm thankful to have that opportunity."
Wednesday's visit touched at least one little second grade girl who thinks she may want to be a police officer some day.
"They're cool," 6-year-old Kaetty Pizarro said of policemen. "They protect people."
Cline said the school plans to use Wednesday as a way to springboard further involvement with community servants.
Over the next week, students will write thank you letters to their special guests for helping keep them and their community safe.
Staff Writer Eliot Duke can be reached at 888-3578, or firstname.lastname@example.org. More photos are on the Thomasville Times Facebook page.