JOPLIN, Mo. — Students and teachers at an area school were glad to see each other for the first day of classes. But someone else was excited to be there too, for more reasons than one.

“Hopefully they’ll stop and go wait, wait, wait, I remember this lesson from Officer Hirshey, yeah, I should avoid that because these bad things can happen because of what I’m doing,” said Rick Hirshey, St. Mary’s School Resource Officer.

Officer Rick Hirshey was one of three Joplin Police Officers shot in the line of duty on March 8th. The other two did not survive. He had also been a school resource officer for several years at a number of schools including St. Mary’s Catholic Elementary.

Hirshey welcomed students back to that campus Thursday, and he jumped at the chance to get his old job back.

“I was a school resource officer for 13 years until I retired last year and then came right back. The officer that took my place resigned about a month ago to go somewhere else, so at that point, they’re like, ‘hey your schools are open if you want it’ and I said, ‘oh yeah, I’m back!'” said Hirshey.

A former teacher at this same school gave Hirshey a St. Michael the Archangel medallion years ago and was wearing it at the time he was wounded.

“It’s a joyful day to have him back and families and students, faculty and staff are just so happy to see him back and giving his service back to our school, he’s is just such an incredible role model and also faith model to our entire campus.”
“One nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all,” said Joanne Lown, Principal, St. Mary’s Elementary School.

Before classes got underway for the new academic year there was a flag raising ceremony for an extraordinary version of Old Glory.

“The flag that we used for this was flown at the U.S. Capitol in our honor on May 22nd, 2021 that marked the 10th anniversary of the Joplin tornado that devastated our school, so we mark any special day with this very special flag,” said Lown.