Far away from Douglas County, Colorado, eighth graders at the Laramie Middle School in Wyoming know about the price Deputy Zack Parrish paid serving his community. Parrish was killed while on duty New Year’s eve.
For 12-year-old Jyllian Scott, what happened to Parrish made her cry. She told 9NEWS, her father, a former law enforcement officer in Wyoming, was in a bad crash last year; so bad, he had to medically retire.
“Things have happened with my dad being undersheriff, it’s just really personal. Pulls at my emotions,” she said.
Scott and her classmates wrote letters to Parrish’s family, his wife and two young daughters.
“When it came out the shooter was from Wyoming and had the connection to Laramie, obviously that hit home really quickly,” said Scott’s student teacher Brooklyn Chambers. “The three of us (other teachers) talked about how it would be a really meaningful activity to have students apply what they were learning in in the creative writing class to writing these meaningful letters.”
The man investigators say shot and killed Parrish, as well as injured four other law enforcement officers, attended the University of Wyoming Law school.
“We wanted to send love from our community, even though this tragic thing happened involving our community to their family,” Chambers said.
She also attends the University of Wyoming at Laramie.
“I knew they were going through a tough time,” said Jaedyn Brown, 13. “I felt that same thing when my grandma died. I know it may not be the same because he was a great person for them. I know that they need the love. I know how it feels. You need the love. I tried to lighten them up. Trying to make them feel that their dad was a great person.”
“I wanted students to see that even though they don't know the family personally that they can make an impact in lives,” Chambers said.
She said she didn’t expect anything from the Parrish family. And understood that the letters may not be read right now. She’s said she was hoping Parrish’s daughters get to see them 10, 20 years down the road.
“I want them to look back on these letters and realize what an impact their dad had on the community, not just in Colorado, but in Wyoming, all across the United States,” she said.
The project was a school-wide effort. The school put together two care boxes for the Parrish family, full of cookies from the social studies teacher, stuffed animals and the letters themselves were placed in envelopes designed by the art department.
Read the letters from Lyon, Scott and Brown here.
“Gracie Parrish and the girls. Mrs. Parrish, I heard your story on 9NEWS and I decided to do some more research, unfortunately I could not get all the information to write you the quality letter you deserve, but I will try. From the reports and interviews Zackari Parrish was a very honorable and kind man loved by man and blessed with a beautiful family. I’m very sorry for your loss and I hope your kids will grow up love him just as much as you do. I could not possibly imagine what you are going through… I’m not one to speak for the people but all of us here in Laramie and sending our love and sympathy depending on the person. We are truly sorry for your loss. I know you are not obligated to listen to what a 14 year old has to say. But I would like to offer some advice. Never forget about your loved ones, think about them every day. and when you remember something bad, don’t hold the tears, let them loose and replace them with the happy memories. I do this and it really helps me recuperate after a traumatizing experience. With deepest empathy Nottia Lyon.”
“Dear Ms. Parrish, I’m very sorry for your loss. I am very thankful for your husband, my dad was a sheriff’s deputy as well as your husband and we are so thankful for him. I saw this tragedy all on the news and I could not help but cry. My heart is completely broken in pieces. Me and my family are sending prayers. I bet deputy Parrish was a very good man, with love from Laramie, Jyllian Scott.”
“Dear Parrish family. I am devastated by your loss. My name is Jayden Brown and I attend Laramie Middle School. I feel heartbroken because someone who’s served our country as great as he did, passed away. Mr. Parrish seemed like a kind, great, dignified and courageous deputy, dad, husband and person. I know you are very saddened right now. But Zackari was a great person and you should be proud of him. Not only the community of Colorado have an appreciation for him, yet every person that met him, met the man, loved him and knew how spectacular he was. 3527 I want to say that everyone in Laramie gives our best wishes and love to the Parrish family. Thank you for taking the time to read this letter. Be strong through a rough time. With my love, Jaydyn Brown.”