Back in January, second-grade students at the Huber Street School wrote friendly letters to members of the Secaucus Police Department as part of a unit on how to write letters.
On Feb. 28, the Secaucus Policeman’s Benevolent Association repaid the kindness, organizing a surprise pizza party at the school for the kids.
“This is our ‘thank you’ back to you,” PBA President Marc Schoch, a 13-year veteran of the force, told the students. “In the 15 years I’ve been a cop, nobody’s ever done this before for me, personally. We appreciate it.”
During the event, Schoch hand-delivered a letter to a special student who wrote to him—his nephew.
“It’s really awesome,” Frank Monnecka, 7, said, of his uncle giving him a letter. Citing Schoch as his hero, he said he wants to become an officer when he grows up.
“We appreciate the letters,” Chief Kevin Flaherty said afterwards. “I have mine, right here. Hopefully, now you’ve seen our faces, you know who we are. So enjoy your pizza and have a good day.”
“They leave their house every day to protect you,” Eilish Viggiani, one of the teachers behind the student letter initiative, told the kids. “And to protect the people of Secaucus. That’s something I know I wouldn’t be able to do.”
“My favorite officer here is Officer Eccles.” — Liam Morgan, 7
The idea to surprise the kids was Schoch’s, according to Viggiani. “Marc called me and he said he wanted to do this,” she later said. “So we made a banner in appreciation to say, ‘Thank you.’ The police officers came. The kids had no idea what they were walking into. They came down, just saw the pizzas and police officers. They just ran up screaming, ‘Oh my gosh!’ It’s wonderful.”
“It was an excellent thought, in my opinion,” said Captain Dennis Miller of the union’s decision. “In today’s climate, as we all know, not many people like the police. But this is just one of those community interactions where we can say. ‘We’re here for you. Not just in the bad times, but in the good times also.’ ”
Students show gratitude
The students expressed their appreciation. “My favorite officer here is Officer Eccles,” said Liam Morgan, 7, referencing the town’s L.E.A.D. (Law Enforcement Against Drugs) prevention officer. “Because he tells us to do what’s good and not do what’s bad.”
“I feel happy-I feel like, surprised that they actually came,” added Grace Cabrera, 8, “to take away their time for us, to spend time and take pictures and all that.”
Hannington Dia can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org