Returning to school after spring break, Officers Ryan Douglas and Staci Stallings, student resource officers, or SROs, walked into a “Heart Attack” brought on by Silver Creek High School students.
Students of the Silver Creek Leadership Academy, or SCLA, decorated the officers’ office with paper hearts to express their sympathy after the shooting of ten people on March 22 in a Boulder King Soopers. The incident resulted in Boulder Police Officer Eric Talley losing his life as he rushed in to save the people within the store.
The SCLA students posted blue hearts on Douglas and Stallings’ door. When the officers opened the office they found hearts posted throughout the office. The students called it a “Heart Attack,” Douglas said.
Douglas was the first to arrive and said he was overwhelmed by the support the students displayed.
“I was a bit teary-eyed,” Douglas said.
Not wanting to deprive Stallings of the same experience, Douglas shut the door, which is usually left open while the officers are working.
Stallings immediately noticed the blue hearts on the door and was surprised to see how much work the students had put into the thought.
“We knew, after returning to school after the Boulder shooting, that people would want to talk about it. We never thought we would walk into such support,” Douglas said.
Douglas said the incident was hard on several students and staff at the school as “we are all interconnected.”
One of the students in the program has a dad who serves on the Boulder Police Force and Carrie Adams, SCLA program director, grew up in Boulder.
“It was close for a lot of us,” Adams said.
While Adams said the sentiment was not a “big production” it was “a little something to send love.”
Sloan Alber, a student at Silver Creek High School and member of SCLA, believes “SROs play a critical role in the success of our school.” After the tragic events in Boulder, Alber became disheartened and found it difficult to maintain hope.
Although struggling with these feelings, Alber feels it is important to show kindness, patience and empathy.
“After the recent tragedy in Boulder, our Ambassador team wanted to do something to acknowledge our SRO’s and show them our love and support through such a difficult time that hit so close to home. After all they’ve done for our student body, we wanted to do something to show them that we care about them just as much as they’ve demonstrated they care about us. We wanted to show them our love in a more visual way, by covering their office in hearts of all colors and sizes,” Alber said.
The SRO program at Silver Creek High School connects with students beyond times that might require law enforcement. During the pandemic, officers delivered meals to families who were unable to get to pick lunches up themselves, Stallings said.
Junior and SCLA member Avery Kohn, said the SROs are always there for students. She sees the Douglas and Stallings teaching classes and talk with students about their jobs. She has sought out the officers to better understand community issues.
“They have definitely played a big role in my high school career,” Kohn said. “I find that they are a really good resource.”
“That sense of safety and knowing that you have someone at the school who is there to support you and put your well-being first sets students up for success. Whatever the problem may be, they make it clear that they’re there to support students in any and every way possible,” Alber said.
For Stallings and Douglas, they find working with students on “real-life, big world problems” to be the most fulfilling.
Stallings spoke of a young girl with special needs who approached her a few years ago. The girl’s name was not released to protect her identity.
The girl lived alone with her mother who struggled with suicidal thoughts regularly. This young girl was primarily left to raise herself, yet didn’t know how to create the structure she needed in life. She approached Stallings asking if Stallings could help.
“I never really got involved with her in a law enforcement manner. I would give her advice when she told me about a problem and that was enough to give her the structure she needed and helped her get through graduation,” Stallings said.
After graduating, the girl returned to the school to talk to Stallings again about an inappropriate relationship she was involved in. Stallings was able to help the girl get out of the situation.
“In building that trust with students, sometimes you come across something unexpected and sometimes terrible but it is good that we are able to help them through,” Stallings said.