Honoring a fallen officer, students show appreciation
Dec 08, 2016 03:35PM
By Travis Barton
Valley Junior High students demonstrate their support during the funeral procession for West Valley City Police Officer Cody Brotherson on Nov. 14. (Travis Barton/City Journals)
By Travis Barton | [email protected]
Students at various Granite School District schools found ways to honor West Valley City Police Officer Cody Brotherson on Nov. 14, the day of his funeral. Brotherson died in the line of duty on Nov. 6 when he was struck by a stolen car attempting to flee the area.
Brotherson was an alumnus of Granger High School and Valley Junior High School. Those schools took time to honor his memory. Granger held a blue-out day where students and staff were encouraged to wear blue in respect to Brotherson’s status as a police officer.
Granger principal David Dunn said it was important to honor and recognize Brotherson as a graduate, community member and police officer.
“We owe [the Brotherson family] that respect. It’s the least we can do to let them know that we’re thinking about their family and supporting their family,” Dunn said. Students had prepared posters and signs to display along the funeral route from the Maverik Center to the cemetery.
Senior Courtney Zamora said it has been sad to see a tragedy happen so close to home, noting that this affects more than the people directly involved in the incident. She wore a blue shirt to demonstrate her appreciation.
“[Brotherson] was trying to do something good for our city and I feel like he needs to be respected for that,” Zamora said.
Valley Junior High lined the streets along the procession route with signs and well-wishers waved to the cars traveling to Valley View Mortuary where Brotherson was interred. Students continuously shouted, “thank you for your service,” to the passing police officers.
With the procession lasting over an hour, Valley Junior High principal Ike Spencer said it was an experience for the kids to always remember.
“I hope [the students] understand the value of life and if you show all these people that are supporting Officer Brotherson,” Spencer said. With Brotherson having attended Valley Jr. High, Spencer said the staff has tried to help students understand who Brotherson was and what his job entailed.
“These [police officers] aren’t just guys riding around in cars hassling people, that they really have assignments and sometimes they’re not all pleasant,” Spencer said as police vehicles drove by in the procession.
Schools besides those Brotherson attended spent the day honoring the fallen police officer and the occupation he held. West Lake Jr. High School also held a blue-out for students and staff, while students and staff from Rolling Meadows Elementary School and Robert Frost Elementary School stood waving mini-American flags to the passing law enforcement vehicles. Students from Hunter Elementary School stood on the steps of the Maverik Center singing patriotic songs as guests filed into the funeral.
West Lake vice principal Aaron Wilson said the idea to wear blue resonated with them to demonstrate their appreciation for all police officers.
“Although we walk in daily appreciation for the things our officers do, how often do we show that,” Wilson said. “That’s a really powerful thing when you see hundreds and hundreds of kids and staff members in a visible way showing their support.”
Just as when Brotherson wanted to be a police officer from interactions in his youth with police officers, educators spoke of the impact this tragedy can have on students and their future.
“I would hope the biggest impact is felt in [students’] homes and community, the types of citizens they become,” Wilson said. “As they go into continued education as adults we hope that experiences like this give them reflection to appreciate the things that our service men and women provide.”
Zamora said she hopes students are motivated to display more affection towards officers.
“There’s people that do respect [officers] but I think they aren’t told ‘thank you’ enough and they don’t know how much some people do appreciate them,” Zamora said.
Dunn said as a school, they need to remember empathy at all times to ensure kids have the character traits to “care and think about others.”
“Through things that happen like this, we have that opportunity to teach those values,” Dunn said.