To the Editor

I was overwhelmed at the wonderful planning and execution that went into the funeral and procession for retired Police Chief John Roche. He was a personal friend of mine and I was moved by all of the traditions that were demonstrated by our police department as well as many other departments from throughout the area. But there was one wonderful tribute that I don't think was covered in the paper and most residents do not know about.

Once the route of the procession was known, the School Resource Officer at East Ridge Middle School, P.O. Mark Giglio, brought up the idea of the students and faculty lining up along the procession route in front of ERMS. The idea was immediately accepted by the entire school and had the unconditional blessing of Principal Patricia Raneri. It would be a major showing of respect for the former police chief. Respect is one of the core values that is instilled at ERMS and this action by the students and staff would help to integrate respect for all people into their lives. The explanation of the passed police chief and the meaning ,of respect during a funeral for such a person was also discussed in the classrooms.

When the funeral procession rounded the corner from Branchville Road onto East Ridge Road, they were met with an unbelievable sight. Hundreds of students and faculty lined the sidewalk, standing shoulder to shoulder, from ERMS almost all the way to the police department with their hands over their hearts. This was just an amazing showing of respect for Chief Roche and our community and I'm sure that the teachers took some time in the classroom to explain all of this to their charges. Hooray for them!

These actions both teach the students something about community support as well as getting them personally involved. As Principal Raneri stated, "I thank each and every staff member for making this sad, yet important, moment happen. We often speak about community with our students, and what that means to be a member of one. This is an example of how we support our town, and each other in good times, and sad times. I am so very proud of our students and staff, and hope that we brought some peace to the chief's family, friends, and fellow police officers."

Kevin Tappe

Florida Hill Road, Sept. 19