HILLSBOROUGH, NJ - Preschoolers at the Learning Experience invited township police to school  to show appreciation for their vigilance and dedication to their community, lessons taught to them by the school’s staff in preparation for the vrisit.

Wearing police caps made of construction paper and gold sticker badges given to them by the police, the 4- and 5-year olds presented thank you cards and a thank you cake to the police officers.

“This gesture is an example of how, in addition to academics, the Learning Experience’s curriculum and enrichment programs encourage the social development of students as they learn to express feelings such as empathy and gratitude and apply those feelings to positive actions,” said Rosemary O’Connell, director of the Hillsborough Learning Experience.

Sign Up for E-News

The police spoke with the children about their daily routine, as well as showing them some of the equipment used to do their job – first aid kits, onboard computers and police vests.

While not making specific reference to the shootings of police officers in Dallas, Baton Rouge and other incidents this summer, the school's staff did prepare the students for the police officers’ visit.

“We did class lessons on empathy, ‘how do I give back to the community,’ ” O’Connell said. “We talked about philanthropy, how to give back, it all encourages the social development of the students,” she added.

 “They don’t really understand at this age, but they’re not blind to the stuff that goes on,” O’Connell said. “The teachers did talk with them about what police do.”

One police officer did ask the group of 10 students if they knew what police do.

 “One student said, ‘Yes, you catch the bad guys and keep us safe,’ ’’ O’Connell said.

Sometimes the lessons learned aren’t what are expected.

When the children presented the cake to the police, one of the officers asked whether he should eat the whole cake by himself.

They answered no, telling the officer it’s best to share, according to O’Connell.

“We are very proud of our people’s passion to serve and give back to the communities in which they work and live,” said Andrew Alfano, Chief Operating Officer of the Learning Experience. “It is evidenced every day that these are the same beliefs our first responders embody, and we could not be more thankful.

“The Learning Experience in Hillsborough continues to operate as the fabric of its community, and we appreciate how the parents, children and residents have embraced us, as we have them,” he added.

The Learning Experience school is at 345 Auten Road, Hillsborough, NJ 08844. It is one of several similar early education schools in the nationwide network.

Further information is available at www.thelearningexperience.com.