Thanking Those Who Keep The Peace
If responses to a third grade field trip last week are any indication, people in and around our Christ Covenant community are hungry for uplifting stories involving law enforcement officers.
On September 27, the two third grade classes, along with their teachers Mrs. Smith and Mrs. Packard and a crew of parent volunteers, embarked on a prayer walk to the Winterville Police Department. The Facebook article with photos from the field trip was shared 44 times and reached 10,798 people – five times the number reached by the second most popular post this school year.
It was a story that warmed hearts way beyond our school family for a host of reasons – children praying intentionally for officers and showing them respect and gratitude, teachers reinforcing those messages in and out of the classrooms, parents joining their children on a unique foot-powered field trip with an eternal purpose. And even those families who were unable to walk along contributed items for the special treat bags the third graders brought for each Winterville police officer. The bags were filled with candy and other items and a note that explained the purpose of each, like “Lifesavers – to remind you of the many times you’ve been one,” and “Smarties – to give you wisdom for those split-second decisions.”
In preparation for the outing, the students gathered the goodies, assembled the bags and learned more about law enforcement officers and their roles in the community. The teachers led them in understanding that a primary police function is to serve as a “peace officer,” and after learning about law enforcement in their own classes the students visited kindergarten, first and second grade CCS classrooms to give presentations to the younger children on the same topic.
“We wanted to give the boys and girls an opportunity see the police officers as true peace officers,” Mrs. Smith said. “We wanted to do something special for the police officers who work so hard for our school and to keep Winterville safe.”
On the day of the field trip, the students were first in line to have their school pictures taken so they could start their purposeful walk from the school to downtown. With ten parent volunteers leading the way and Mrs. Smith wearing a bright green reflective raincoat to increase the group’s visibility, the students walked the one mile down Main Street to the police station on Railroad Street.
Along the way, guided by parents and teachers, small groups of students stopped at each corner for a directed time of prayer. They prayed for the town and its leaders, for the law enforcement officers in Winterville and beyond and for God’s grace and love to guide our nation. When all of the groups arrived at police headquarters, Winterville police chief Ryan Willhite and his officers and staff came out to join them.
When the group was gathered around the flagpole, third grader Gracie Tyson read the officers the sheet that accompanied each of their goodie bags, and the group prayed together. Before they headed back to CCS, the officers took the children on a tour of the police and fire stations highlighted by opportunities to get on the fire truck and the police motorcycle.
“Our officers were blessed,” Police Chief Willhite said. “We got a bunch of hugs. Almost all of the children wanted to hug all of the officers. We didn’t know what to expect, because most kids are kind of shy, and some kids are not taught to interact with the police. Your kids were so sweet.”