Santaquin students show up to school wearing blue in support of law enforcement

May 6, 2024, 9:52 PM | Updated: 9:58 pm

SANTAQUIN There was a somber feeling as students at Orchard Hills Elementary in Santaquin prepared for school on Monday morning.   

“Police officers work hard to protect us,” said Hailey Davis, a fifth-grader at Orchard Hills. “I am so sad and upset that an officer passed away yesterday.” 

Sgt. Billy Dean Hooser, 50, of Santaquin was deliberately struck and killed by a semitruck driver on Sunday morning. The driver was apprehended several hours later in Vernal following an extensive manhunt. 

Semitruck driver hits, kills Utah officer, police say; driver in custody after hourslong manhunt

Kids honor fallen officer

Children in Santaquin wanted to honor Hooser’s legacy.   

“I wanted to wear this blue dress today to support police officers after what happened this weekend,” Hailey said. “I decided to go with a dress because it’s more formal, and this officer and his family deserve all our respect.” 

Members of the Orchard Hills Student Council put out a call for kindness. 

“We started a group chat asking students to wear blue.  The message spread, and we ended up getting a lot of kids to wear blue. It may seem like a simple thing, but when done with heart, it can make a big difference,” Hailey said.   

Students at Orchard Hills Elementary School put out a call to be kind following the tragic death of a Santaquin police officer. (KSL TV)

Principal Penny McEntire said this week is teacher appreciation week.   

“These goodhearted students took that gratitude for their teachers and expanded it into our community,” McEntire said.  

Kindergarten teacher Alyssa Tanner said her students came to class Monday morning with numerous questions.  

“I had so many kids coming to school asking ‘who are the police?’ and ‘what do they do?’  And as we talked about it, they really felt the urge to share their appreciation for our local law enforcement,” Tanner said.  

Tanner encouraged her kindergartners to write notes of appreciation to Santaquin police officers. All of the other grades will make cards during their art specialty throughout the remainder of this week. 

“It’s good for students to express their feelings in a way that is healthy and shows love and kindness,” Tanner said.  “And my 5-and-6-year-old students don’t always get excited about writing. But this was the best writing I had ever witnessed them do. It was writing with a compassionate purpose.” 

More than 500 appreciation notes, from all grades, will be gathered and delivered to the Santaquin Police Department later this week.   

“We will send our local police officers cards to say thank you. They are an important part of our community. It’s so brave of them; they put their lives in danger for us,” said McKell Bradley, a fifth-grade student at Orchard Hills

 Fifth grader Dax Gossett said, “Our student council here at Orchard Hills will lead with kindness. We are going to make our school and city a better place.” 

Nebo School District Officials said counselors were available if students needed to talk about this weekend’s tragic event.   


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Santaquin students show up to school wearing blue in support of law enforcement