A Derby school is doing what it can to spread cheer in the wake of Sedgwick County Sheriff’s Deputy Robert Kunze’s death.
The principal at Derby Hills Elementary School encouraged his teachers to turn the tragedy into a time of healing and community togetherness.
“We don’t want to always focus on what is happening directly here, but make them think big picture because as adults it will make them more kind and caring. So when he said that I said,’Yes, I am on board. I want to do that,'” said teacher Jennifer Miller.
Miller has a class of about 25 students. She said she spent time Wednesday talking with her fifth graders about what happened to Deputy Kunze.
“We discussed what would it feel like if someone in your family had died,” she explained. “We sort of went through that whole process and what it means to be a police officer and give your life.”
Miller admitted it was a challenging conversation, but it was an important one to have with her students.
“I’ve just come to realize that those hard conversations have to happen because even though they are kids, they still know what’s going on and if we’re not the ones to talk about it, they’re going to look for it elsewhere,” Miller said.
After a conversation about the fallen deputy, Miller encouraged her students to create cards for Deputy Kunze’s family.
“Dear family of Officer Kunze, he was a good man. I thank him so much for his service. He will be with you forever,” wrote Alyssa, 10.
“I wish he was still here. He was a good man,” wrote Kelsey.
“Dear Mrs. Kunze, I am sorry for your loss. Your husband was a good man. He served us all. We all feel sorry for you. We hope you feel better with this letter. May peace be with you,” Ewan said in his letter.
“I hope this card will make your family feel better,” said McKinley.
KSN spoke to several students about how they felt following Kunze’s death.
“When I heard it, I was like, ‘What? How did this happen?’ It kind of made me sad,” said Rowan.
“That should never have to happen to someone. Nobody deserves that. They are protecting us. They are helping you, so you shouldn’t wan to hurt them,” said Mabry.
The shooting struck a chord for one particular student.
“It made me feel sad because that could easily happen to one of my family members,” said Dallas.
Dallas has three family members in law enforcement.
“I could lose them,” he said.
While each student had a different perspective on Kunze’s death, each of them told KSN they hope their cards will bring joy to Kunze’s family.
“I hope that they can feel better,” Ewan said.
The school is also collecting money for Deputy Kunze’s family.