Story courtesy The Herald, published November 4, 2016

Lunchtime at Rosewood Elementary School was livelier than normal this week after some special visitors dropped in.

More than 15 Rock Hill Police officers ate lunch Wednesday with the Rosewood fifth-graders in an effort to strengthen relationships between Rock Hill youth and law enforcement.

Following the recent Charlotte protests, Rosewood fifth-graders expressed concerns in the classroom about community tensions with police.

“In that discussion with fifth graders, and in light of regional and national tension with officers in communities, teachers thought, what can we do to combat that tension?” said Dustin Wilson, a Rock Hill school district communications specialist.

The “Lunch with Law Enforcement” was a fifth-grader’s idea, and the teachers thought it would be a good opportunity for students to ask officers questions and just chat about kids’ stuff.

“We asked them what their favorite classes were, that sort of stuff,” said Officer Mike Johnson. “Very little conversation at my table turned into police talk. It was mostly kids’ stuff. Officers are people, too.”

Principal Stephanie DiStasio gave a brief presentation in the lunchroom for the officers, explaining the school’s curriculum and students’ concerns about community/ police tensions. Rosewood faculty plan to make the Lunch with Law Enforcement an annual event.

Before the officers left Rosewood, students made thank-you cards for their new friends in uniform.

“It was really just a great time, we had a blast,” Johnson said. “Everyone left with a big ol’ smile on their face.”

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