‘High Five Friday’

Published 9:53 am Tuesday, November 7, 2017

GATESVILLE – “Good morning….hope you have a great day.”

That sentiment was shared in excess of 100 times here Friday where Gates County Sheriff’s Office deputies were joined by members of the county’s Rescue and EMS to greet students, parents and staff entering Gatesville Elementary School to start a new day.

The event was billed as “High Five Friday” and it was just that as the law enforcement officers and EMT’s exchanged that hand gesture with the students and adults as they entered the school building.

Ray Freeman, Ray Campbell and Susan Westfall (kneeling) welcome a Gatesville Elementary student on “High Five Friday” at the school.

The idea for “High Five Friday” came from Ray Campbell, a School Resource Officer with the Gates County Sheriff’s Office. He stated the purpose of the first-time event in the county was an effort to promote and maintain a positive relationship between the school students and Gates County Sheriff’s deputies and members of Gates County Rescue/EMS.

“I came up with this idea after seeing a similar program held at a school up in Virginia that was featured on the TV news,” said Campbell. “The following week, while visiting one of our schools here in the county, I had several students, first graders, come up to me and give me a ‘high five.’ That got this idea really rolling here in Gates County.”

Campbell said he spoke with Gates County Rescue and EMS about partnering with the Sheriff’s Office for “High Five Friday.”

“And here we are,” smiled Campbell after spending 60 minutes on Friday morning with his colleagues in greeting the students and a few of their parents. “This really went well. It’s all about building trust, building relationships with these young people. I feel we accomplished that today.”

Joining Campbell at the school entrances and offering the “high five” greetings were fellow Gates County Sheriff’s deputies Ray Freeman, Eric Wall, Glynda Parker, and Robert Jordan; along with Gates County Rescue/EMS staff members Susan Westfall, Clarence Winn, and Cameron Butts; as well as Herman Weiss of Gates County E911 Communications.

Gates County Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Barry Williams was on hand Friday morning, standing near the flagpole at Gatesville Elementary to observe the event. He voiced appreciation for the community outreach efforts of the law enforcement officers and EMT’s.

“What a fantastic idea….look at the smiles on the faces of these schoolchildren and their parents, as well as the smiles on the faces of these greeters in uniform,” said Dr. Williams.

“This was all Deputy Campbell’s idea,” the Superintendent continued. “He contacted me about a month or so ago to ask permission to initiate this ‘High Five’ program. He said he wanted the children to see, first-hand….through their own eyes, that law enforcement officers are the good guys, they are role models, and not what is sometimes portrayed differently on TV.”

This youngster is all smiles as the start of her school day was brightened on Nov. 3 by members of the Gates County Sheriff’s Office and the county’s Rescue & EMS Department.

Williams said he strongly believed that the event was good for the parents of the schoolchildren to witness as well.

“It makes them, as well as our teachers here, feel good about security and safety of the children while at school,” Williams stressed.

Williams added that Campbell’s plan is to continue “High Five Friday” at Buckland Elementary School and T.S. Cooper Elementary School.

“He’s hoping for the group to visit those schools this month or next and then visit the middle school and the high school,” Williams noted.

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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