Marshalltown police officers Kraig Lageschulte and Brad Mauseth were engulfed in a sea of hugs and handshakes at Riverview Park's Community Building Friday night.
The two were recipients of heart-felt appreciation from 13 cadets and their parents at the inaugural Marshalltown Police Department's Student Academy graduation.
Lageschulte and Mauseth had worked closely with the youth during a special three week program, beginning July 8.
T-R PHOTO BY MIKE DONAHEY
Shown are three graduates from the inaugural Marshalltown Police Department’s Summer Academy for Youth with Officer Kraig Lageschulte at Riverview Park’s Community Building Friday night. From left are Andrew Bramon, Lageschulte, Bree Darrow and Jacob Darrow, holding his graduation certificate and a rose for his parents. Assisting Lageschulte with the program was Officer Brad Mauseth.
Cadets were at-risk students from Miller Middle School selected by the Marshalltown Community School District and juvenile courts staff.
Program goals included character building and reducing bullying and risky behavior.
Additionally, there was 90 minutes of physical fitness each day melded with community service projects at the Animal Rescue League, Iowa Veterans Home and Quakerdale's Wolfe Ranch, among others.
Classes ran from 9-4 Monday through Friday.
The Marshalltown YMCA-YWCA's Cultural Center served as headquarters.
Lageschulte and Mauseth were thrilled with the program results.
"I've seen a change in many kids since we started," Lageschulte said. "At the beginning, some were questioning the why of the program and what we had planned. As time went on, I noticed the kids warmed up to it and they were much more respectful of each other."
"Some want to return next year and be mentors," Mauseth said.
Morning sessions dealt with character building, and talking about the impacts of bullying and other negative behaviors.
"Afternoons we had guest speakers come in ... several were from the MPD, the K-9 handler, a SWAT team member and crime-scene investigator," Lageschulte said. "Sheriff Kamatchus joined us as well."
The groundwork for the program started last year, when Marshalltown Chief of Police Mike Tupper had asked Lageschulte to develop a summer program for youth.
Lageschulte also serves as the school resource officer at Marshalltown High School and often gets asked by students what it's like to be an officer.
He wanted students to learn about law enforcement while also being exposed to character building traits.
Lageschulte said he made many presentations before civic groups and wrote grant applications to foundations to raise the necessary funds.
Several cadets and their parents raved about the program during the potluck which preceeded the graduation ceremony.
"I had a good time, and learned a lot about what it takes to be a police officer," said Sykler Fisher, 12, of Marshalltown.
"He was busy the three weeks," said Skyler's dad Russ Fisher of Marshalltown. "I know Skyler liked helping with the community projects."
Janet Fisher, Skyler's mom, said it was good for the cadets to interact with each other as well as with Lageschulte and Mauseth.
Bree Darrow said it was important to learn that bullying hurts people.
"Treating people with respect is important," she said.
Itzel Zavala and Luz Morciego of Marshalltown said they "loved the program" and learned how drugs and tobacco could hurt people.
The two hope the program is available next summer so they can help.
Ryan Lewis, graduate, was all smiles during the potluck as he discussed the program with his mom, Anita Lewis and dad, Bruce Lewis of Marshalltown.
"I really enjoyed going to the Animal Rescue League and working with the animals." he said.
"It was a great program," said Bruce. "Marshalltown needs more programs like this one for kids."
"This was a total team effort," said Mike Tupper, chief of police. "So many kids are in need of productive summer activities. We are always looking for opportunities to interact with young people in a non-enforcement setting. This was a tremendous opportunity to build relationships with these young people and their families."
Tupper said the MPD is grateful for the community support and financial assistance from local businesses and civic groups, which made the academy possible.