Celebrity cop has a ‘partner’ in Belleville — a kindergartener

Officer Tommy Norman poses with his old friend from Arkansas: Timothy Johnson, a Belleville kindergartener.
Officer Tommy Norman poses with his old friend from Arkansas: Timothy Johnson, a Belleville kindergartener.

The celebrity “Social Media Cop” from Arkansas stopped in the metro-east last month to meet up with an old friend: a kindergartener at Ellis Elementary School in Belleville.

Officer Tommy Norman — who is an entry on Wikipedia and has more than 1 million likes on his Facebook page — had just thrown out the first pitch at the St. Louis Cardinals game at Busch Stadium. In a video he broadcast live on Facebook at the Sept. 29 game against the Cincinnati Reds, Norman called it “one of the biggest days of my life. It’s a big honor.”

Before heading to the airport the next day, Norman went to the elementary school to surprise Timothy Johnson, or “Tim Tim” as Norman calls him and how hundreds of thousands know him online. Timothy used to live in a neighborhood Norman patrolled in Arkansas.

“Tim Tim” is featured in countless social media posts that Norman sent out to his followers. And he is clearly beloved by them. One fan from California even sent Timothy his very own child-size squad car. He’s Officer Norman’s “partner.”

Norman posted several videos and photos of the pals meeting again. In one, Norman asks, “Are you a police officer, Tim Tim?” Timothy answers with a head nod and an excited “yep!”

“He talks about that all the time,” says Mrs. Mathenia, Timothy’s teacher at Ellis, in the video.

Principal Dave Deets got to witness the visit, which he called “very special and moving,” in a post to his Instagram account.

“The moment was fantastic to watch and I was thankful he allowed Tim’s teacher, Mrs. Mathenia, and myself to be a part of it,” Deets wrote in the post.

Norman has gained national attention for his approach to community policing. He posts examples of his day-to-day interactions in North Little Rock to his fans online — through Facebook, Twitter and Instagram — in an effort to change the way people perceive the police. He has been featured in the New York Times, CNN, and on the Today Show.

“If you would have told me when my career began in 1998 that I’d be blessed with a platform to inspire, I may have looked at you funny,” Norman wrote in a recent Instagram post. “I’m thankful & most importantly humbled!”

Middle schoolers to receive $1,000 worth of books

This year’s Barack Obama Library Award will benefit Belleville students.

The 2016 award recipient, Whiteside Middle School teacher Meghan Tippy-King, will receive a collection of books for her classroom library valued at $1,000. The collection includes books that are culturally relevant for African-American readers, according to the Illinois Reading Council.

The prestigious award has been given to an outstanding Illinois educator each year since Obama created it in 2006 when he was a senator.

Tippy-King currently teaches 130 students in sixth-grade language arts classes. Every year, she challenges her students to read a total of 30 books of their choosing.

“I even have a stack of books leant to me by students who think I’ll enjoy something as much as they have,” Tippy-King said.

Area school wins second consecutive academic decathlon

Immaculate Conception School’s students brought home another win in the St. John Vianney Academic Decathlon Oct. 3.

It’s the second consecutive year the Columbia sixth, seventh and eighth-graders have won the annual contest. Twenty-two Catholic schools in the St. Louis area competed in the categories of mathematics, English, history, science and technology.

Immaculate Conception’s team average was 230 points, which was 27 points higher than the second-place team.

Sixth-grader Tyler Wahle had a second-place victory in the technology category, and seventh-grader Jacob Whitworth finished in third place in mathematics.

Other members of the team included Jacob Feldker in mathematics; Katie Grawitch and Sydney Wahle in English; Marie Prindiville and Autumn Ramey in history; Eli Garcia and Daylen Litke in science; and Noah Newton in technology. Math teacher Karen Weiler coordinated the team.

Schools get donations from local Schnucks locations

Since 2015, Schnucks has given more than $344,000 that it raised through an electronic donation-at-checkout program at metro-east locations to schools, religious groups and nonprofits. Customers who participate in the My Schnucks Card program choose where they want their donations to go.

The program has benefited Holy Trinity Catholic School in Fairview Heights, Belleville East Bands and Marquette High School, Schnucks stated in a news release.

Students get to know their community leaders

Sixth- and eighth-grade students at Grant Middle School in Fairview Heights recently invited community leaders to visit the school for refreshments and conversations so the students could thank them and get to know them better.

School Social Worker Tracie Boever said the event was part of a character education program in which eighth-graders were focusing on community.

Guests included Mayor Mark Kupsky, several alderman, Police Chief Nick Gailius and Lt. C.J. Beyersdorfer, Regional Superintendent of Schools Susan Sarfaty, school administrators from districts 201 and 105, and members of the District 110 School Board. Also attending were representatives from the library, Khory League, Lowe’s, Rotary, area churches, Fairview Heights Area Food Pantry, Kawanis, The Tribune, Scott Air Force Base, and Chuckwagon restaurant.

Boever said both guests and students enjoyed the event and the chance to learn more about one another.

High school JROTC cadets help with fundraiser

Cadets in Cahokia High School’s Army Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps are helping out with a 5K Run/Walk event that will benefit local pregnant and parenting teen moms and their children.

The JROTC participants’ service learning project this year is assisting with the fundraiser for Chariti Home in Belleville, which provides supportive services for teens between the ages of 13 and 19 in St. Clair and Madison counties.

The event kicks off at 8 a.m. Oct. 15 at the Cahokia High School stadium. The community is invited to participate.

Lexi Cortes: 618-239-2528, @lexicortes