New school resource officer among those serving lunch at Kiski Area Upper Elementary
Police officers from Washington Township served lunch Wednesday to students at Kiski Area Upper Elementary School.
Officers lined up behind the cafeteria counters and served pizza and sandwiches to fifth- and sixth-graders.
The event isn’t new. Officers usually serve lunch at the school once a year.
But this was the first year the students might recognize one of the officers from their hallways.
“This is the first year that this building has had a school resource officer,” Assistant Principal Dan Smith said. “In the past, it would be strange faces.”
For years, Kiski Area School District operated with one school resource officer for six buildings because of budgetary constraints.
In 2018, the district obtained a $25,000 grant through a state program the gives districts money for safety projects.
The grant enabled the district to bring on Officer Ken Hollis as a full-time resource officer based at the upper elementary school. Hollis also monitors South Primary and East Primary schools.
The grant pays a portion of Hollis’ salary. The district covers the rest.
“They’re becoming familiar with me,” Hollis said of the upper elementary students. “This is the first time someone has been in the building for an extended period of time.”
Brian Swartzlander, an administrator at the school, said it’s helpful for the children to see officers in a friendly capacity. Events throughout the school year also introduce students to firefighters and emergency medical technicians.
“We want students to know — because they’re young — what resources they have in the community,” Swartzlander said. “They see (Hollis) daily, but they don’t see the other men and women that serve on a daily basis.”
Although Hollis has been in the building for only a few months, Smith said he already has made a difference in the lives of students.
“You can see it daily,” Smith said. “Students will go to Officer Hollis for advice if they are struggling. The kids trust him, and he’s just another resource.”
Teghan Simonton is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Teghan at 724-226-4680, [email protected] or via Twitter .