Cory Veilleux, a police officer with Jay Police Department answers a question Tuesday afternoon, May 7, during Painting with Police at Spruce Mountain Elementary School in Jay. Students seen clockwise from lower left are Marc Webster, Jeremy Martin, Paityn Welch, Blake Davis and Bentley Witham. Pam Harnden/Livermore Falls Advertiser

JAY — Students at Spruce Mountain Elementary School spent time last week with police officers thanks to the Painting with Police program.

“Lillian Hunt works for the Healthy Community Coalition,” Jennifer Stone, school social worker told the Livermore Falls Advertiser Tuesday afternoon. “This was kind of her project. She streamlined it hoping to build relationships between the police and young students at this age.”

The goal is to make students feel comfortable should an officer visit their home, allow them to ask questions, she stated. “It seems to have been working,” she noted. “Kids are hugging the police officers, asking some great questions. They are painting, making a picture for the officers.”

Stone has seen some students share their nervousness, that they are scared. “We kind of go into that,” she said. “By the end they are laughing and joking. They were doing yoga this morning so it is a lot of fun.”

Cory Veilleux, a police officer with Jay Police Department answers a question Tuesday afternoon, May 7, during Painting with Police at Spruce Mountain Elementary School in Jay. Students seen from left are Brooklyn Curtis, Blake Davis and Gear Danforth. Gear Danforth

Police officers have a stressful, strenuous job, she said. “It will be nice for them to have that different aspect to their job,” she noted. “Having people really thank them and hug them and see them as the superheroes that they are.”

Cory Veilleux with the Jay Police Department visited a third-grade classroom that afternoon. Corporal Joe Sage, the school resource officer, Chief of Police Richard Caton IV, Detective/Sgt. Russell Adams and officers Anthony York and Noah Kolodji from the department also participated, Stone said. One officer was in training, could not take part, it was noted.

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Before Veilleux went to the classroom Stone asked about his experiences so far, as he had visited other classes too.

“It’s been magnificent,” Veilleux replied. “They are a bunch of good kids here.”

That morning Veilleux took part in a yoga session with students, Stone stated. “He is a good sport,” she said. “His tree was so perfect that they called him a ballerina.”

Every third grade is visited during healthy living, an allied arts class, she noted. The program meets three times a day all week long, she added.

After arriving at the classroom Veilleux helped spurt chosen paint colors on a paper plate for each student. He told them the room was his first-grade classroom.

Students asked him what various pieces of equipment were for, if his gun and Taser could be interchanged in the carriers. Veilleux told them no, the holsters were specific for each.

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One student asked about the light found on his left shoulder. Veilleux turned it on and the students were able to explain [with some additional questioning] that the light and sirens help warn of danger, to be aware.

Another student asked if Veilleux had ever shot his gun. “Not while I am working,” he replied. “Just like every other tool, it is better to have it and never need it.”

Officers need to practice to be ready, hope they never do, he added.

At the Regional School Unit 73 board of directors meeting Thursday, May 9, Pat St. Clair, SMES principal shared information about the program.

“It’s been really good to see that positive interaction between law enforcement and the kids,” he noted. “The kids are loving it. They are doing art, the officers are going around. The kids see they are not scary, they are just people like you and I.”


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