It was a blue crush of another kind when a bus load of Northpoint Christian School eighth-graders bounded through the glass doors of the Southaven Police Department Tuesday to show appreciation to police officers for their lifesaving work.

The school colors for the NCS Trojans include a slightly different shade of blue.

"We just wanted to show our love and appreciation," said Buchanan Cook, 14, who came up with the idea to show support for police and law enforcement in the wake of police protests across the country. "With all the stuff going on in the country right now, we thought we would show our support."

Each student in the class wrote a handwritten letter to officers and officers were presented with gift cards, boxes of Kleenex, gum, candy and just about anything that officers might like or need.

Southaven Police Chief Steve Pirtle was grinning from ear-to-ear as he shook hands and welcomed the students.

"We really do appreciate you reaching out to our officers and showing your support," Pirtle said. "The guys and girls at the station really appreciate it."

Pirtle said the outpouring of thanks demonstrates the caliber of young people who live, work and attend school within the city, Mississippi's third-largest municipality. "It's really satisfying to us. These are our future graduates. They are the ones who will be coming up and making the future decisions in the world. It's important because it shows they will be able to embrace good decisions. It also says a lot about the parents who support those good decisions."

Thomas Hunt, 14, said the eighth-grade class at Northpoint has been working in earnest on the class project, officially titled "Eighth-graders at Northpoint Christian School Honors Southaven Police Department," since December. He and fellow classmates came up with the idea during the summer.

Hunt, like his classmates, wrote a personal letter to an officer.

"I basically wrote about how much I appreciate them and thanked them for their service," Hunt said. "I feel safe and thankful for the Southaven Police Department."

Jada Bunch, 13, said all too often people in general take police officers for granted.

"I think it's really important and brave for them to do what they do," Bunch said. "I want to thank them for putting their lives on the line to keep everybody safe in the community."

Southaven Police Capt. Richard Chandler said the rank-and-file officers were touched by the gesture.

"We appreciate it greatly," Chandler said. "It's very refreshing to see young people starting down a good path in their lives."

Southaven Mayor Darren Musselwhite applauded the youngsters in his city.

"It's special that eighth-graders wanted to reach out and show their appreciation," Musselwhite said. "It's a tough climate n our country with our police. It's a special thing what these students did."

State Rep. Dana Criswell, R-Olive Branch and Rep. Steve Hopkins, R-Southaven also spoke glowingly about the students who sponsored the effort.

"I think it also says a lot about the police departments we have in DeSoto County," Criswell said. "From what I've seen in DeSoto County, everybody from the Southaven Police Department to police departments across this county make an effort to reach out to the communities they serve."

Hopkins agreed with his House colleague.

"It's really refreshing to see youngsters their age show appreciation and show leadership in setting about to do that. Here you have a group of eighth-graders recognizing law enforcement."

Robert Lee Long is Community Editor of the DeSoto Times-Tribune. He may be contacted at rlong@desototimestribune.com or at 662-429-6397, Ext. 252.

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