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Shown in the photo above, back row center, is Chambers County School Resource Officer Lawrence Howell, surrounded by his family and students in Mrs. Letson’s first-grade classroom. -- Contributed

Fairfax Elementary School honors first responders

VALLEY – In memory of the tragic events that occurred on Sept. 11, 2001, the faculty, staff, parents and students at Fairfax Elementary School showed their appreciation Wednesday to local first responders for the jobs they do each day.

“We had done an event similar to this in the Carroll County, Georgia, school district where I was previously employed,” Fairfax Principal Beth Chandler said in a news release. “I thought it would be a good idea to do the same thing at Fairfax, especially since some of our teachers are relatives and spouses of first responders.”

She said the school sent questionnaires to the Valley Police Department, Chambers County Sheriff’s Office, Drug Task Force, East Alabama Fire District/EMTs, and 911 center operators asking them about their favorite snacks, favorite college football team, and office supplies they might need.

“We then sent this information home with our students, and their parents purchased items that we put into personalized baskets for each of our public safety employees,” Chandler said in the news release.

Every gift basket bore the name of the individual it was packaged for, and contained candy and snacks, bottled water, and something reflecting their favorite college team’s logo, as well as pens, note pads and other small office accessories.

As first responders arrived at the school, they were assigned a classroom to visit. They shared information with students about their jobs and answered questions.

Chambers County School Resource Officer Lawrence Howell spoke to Misty Letson’s first-grade class.

“You should always pay attention to your teacher when she gives you information to keep you safe, like weather and fire drill procedures,” Howell said.

He also shared what it was like to work as a K9 officer with his partner “Goose,” a Belgian malamute/shepherd mix dog specially trained to detect drugs.

Howell and Goose have been working together for the past five years.

“We could never thank these men and women enough for what they do,” Chandler said.

“They literally put their lives on the line every day to keep us safe, and it’s important for our students to know who they are.”