COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - A Midlands sixth grader is praising the efforts of her school resource officer and using what she learned to brighten the spirits of her fellow classmates.
Hailey Nlome, along with the rest of her class, is new to Blythewood Middle School. The school is home to sixth, seventh and eighth graders and Nlome and her friends admit a new building, routine and schedule can be intimidating.
Last week, Nlome went through the lunch line as she does most days. However, once she was ready to sit down, she said she came to an upsetting discovery.
“I was going to go to the lunch table but there was no more room so I went to another table by myself,” said Nlome. “It’s not a good feeling.”
She sat at a table alone, like some students do every day, as those around them socialize and relax. That’s when Deputy Otis Scott, a Richland County Sheriff’s Deputy, sat down next to her.
“Deputy Scott came over and sat right next to me and I don’t know if he saw this but I began tearing up because it’s nice to know that someone cares enough to sit right next to you,” she said.
Scott is Blythewood Middle School’s resource officer, who describes his daily routine as walking the halls, classrooms, and lunchroom talking with students and building relationships.
“I think back to when I was a kid and I wanted to make an impression where the kids can have someone to talk to and feel comfortable with,” said Scott.
Last week, he walked into the sixth grade lunch period to see Nlome sitting alone. Immediately he sat down, offering up simple conversation and even a plum. Nlome said she immediately felt better and is grateful Scott took the time to sit down with her.
“I feel pretty good about that, not being alone at the table, it doesn’t feel good,” she said. “Deputy Scott is a really nice person and I’m glad he’s at our school.”
This week, Nlome didn’t have any trouble fitting at her regular lunch table. While having fun with her group of friends, she won’t soon forget how Scott made her feel and she hopes to pass it along to other classmates. Many of her friends feel the same way about Scott, noting he’s one of the reasons they enjoy coming to school.
“In the morning in the car rider line, if it’s Monday and you don’t feel good or don’t feel like going to school, but then you see Deputy Scott smiling and telling jokes, he makes you want to come to school,” said Alahna Valentine.
Scott said this is his first time being a school resource officer and has only been at Blythewood Middle School since the beginning of the year. Not one for the spotlight, he said he doesn’t do what he does for acknowledgment. Instead, it’s just the right thing to do, he said. It can also provide dividends in the future.
“If the SRO is the person that starts the dialog, then throughout their life the student can continue to talk with law enforcement and feel a little bit more comfortable doing so,” Scott said.