(WLOX) - At a time when many officers on the Bay St. Louis police force are still reeling from the death of former chief Mike DeNardo, students at North Bay Elementary School are bringing smiles to their faces.
Fourth-grader at North Bay Elementary Hayden Stauts is only 10, but knows exactly what he wants to be when he grows up.
"I want to fight crime and make it stop, so everyone can have peace," said Hayden.
Although Hayden feels lucky to have talked to an officer on his lunch break, police who attended the 'Thank an Officer' event at the school say it goes both ways.
"It just marks another day we can push past everything going on. The officers need it, we need it, and it's good for the kids," said Lt. James Burch.
In light of DeNardo's death, those in attendance say the event happened at just the right time.
"We were just discussing that in the cafeteria. All our guys here in our community have had a really rough week and to be able to do this," said Principal Wier. "It was planned before, but it just makes it extra special I think."
Officers were treated to seafood gumbo, potato salad, and desserts. The spread was served by teachers and staff of the school, as well local restaurant owners.
says, "All too often, kids get a bad impression of police, whether it be from distant relatives or things they see on TV, so it's very important for us to come out and interact with them," said Brandon Normand with Mississippi Marine Patrol.
Educators say the interaction between officers and students is priceless, bringing positivity to both.
"It's good to have cops around, because if not for them, kids would be terrified at night," added Stauts.