To the Editor: Lily graduated today from the Junior Police Academy and I need to take a minute and gush about how amazing it was.

We are recent residents and this was the first program we've ever tried. Honestly, I thought the whole thing was going to be too good to be true but it exceeded all our expectations. The camp was free and included grades 5-8 and all we had to do was submit a super simple application and then she had to get a quick doctors note that she didn't have any health problems.

She spent the whole week learning directly from our amazing local first responders and came home with so much more appreciation and respect than she ever could have gained without it. The Police Department, Fire Department, and EMS all took the time to meet with the kids and show them exactly what they do. She learned crime scene procedures, self defense, personal responsibility, teamwork, the importance of service in your community, and so much more.

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It has been so amazing to watch her light up every day and talk about how much she loves it.

I want to thank ALL of the amazing people who were involved in putting this amazing program together, especially Det. Sgt. Mike Padilla who runs the program with the help of so many others.

The skills Lily learned this week will be with her forever and she is already talking about how she can't wait to be a "yellow shirt" one day! This was exactly the kind of hometown I always hoped I would get to raise her in and I'm so glad we ended up here.

Parents, definitely sign your kids up next year!

Editors Note: Lily is going into 6th grade at Radcliffe Elementary School. Her favorite subjects are language arts and science. In the future, she plans to be either a police officer (specializing in the K-9 unit) or a lawyer. She is an avid gymnast with a passion for animals who hopes to change the world one day.