On a sunny spring morning, students, friends, family, city councilmembers, and a multitude of Nevada law enforcement agencies gathered in front of the John C Bohach Elementary School at 1100 Windmill Farms Parkway in Spanish Springs to celebrate the first annual Bohach Day.
John Bohach was an officer with the Reno Police Department for 13 years before he was shot and killed in the line of duty in 2001. In August of 2020, the Washoe County School District opened a new elementary school next to Sky Ranch, naming it after Bohach.
Police officers raised the American flag, and the collective group said the Pledge of Allegiance together before several people came forward to speak about the importance of Bohach Day.
“This is the first annual Bohach Day, on what would’ve been his 56th birthday,” said Bohach Elementary School Principal Heidi Gavrilles.
“Seven hundred students are watching this on Zoom. This is a historic day in Northern Nevada. Only two schools in Nevada are named after fallen law enforcement and we’re here to build positive relationships with students and first responders. Today our school will be flooded with heroes and [students] will have the opportunity to learn what they do and why they do it,” says School Counselor Derek Hughes.
Reno Police Chief Jason Soto along with Bohach’s mother and daughter Jill were also present.
“This is what John was all about…he loved working with children and keeping them safe,” said Chief Soto. “He had a passion for the kids in this community; it just feels different today, this is so very humbling.”
Washoe County Undersheriff Jeff Clark also said a few words.
“The Sheriff’s Office is here to be a good partner and be a good friend. The community never lets us forget the hero in John Bohach.
“I’m so humbled to have so much support from this community,” John Bohach’s daughter Jill added. She thanked Counselor Hughes for putting the event together, her colleagues for taking time out of their morning to attend the event, and added, “I know he’s up there smiling and he’s ready to party. Happy birthday, dad.”
With that, Counselor Hughes welcomed everyone to “the safest day of school in America” and officers flooded into the school to visit classrooms and talk about safety, how they support the community, and what kinds of technology officers use to increase their efficiency.
Moments later, I follow Sparks Police Sargent John Vasquez, Sparks Deputy Chief Clint Bellamy, and Officer Christopher Rowe into Ms. Potter’s first grade classroom. The kids immediately start firing off questions, asking them things like, “How do you catch people?” “What’s your favorite motorcycle?” and “When someone calls you about a crime, how do you know where to find them?”
The students are lively and inquisitive, handing them pictures they colored for them as the Sparks Police explain how important it is to tell the truth, own up to their mistakes, and be nice to their friends and neighbors. The kids pass Officer Bellamy’s police badge around as they talk about their rankings, their gear, and how they deal with supposed “bad guys.” When asking the students who wants to be a police officer when they grow up, about three-fourths of the class raises their hands. Before the officers leave, the kids run up and give them hugs, high fives, and fist pumps.
Next, they visit a joint kindergarten class, where the students pass around handcuffs, and they fire off more questions about what kinds of vehicles they use to get around. When asked who wants to be a police officer when they grow up, most of the class raises their hands.
There was something different about Bohach Day, with the sun shining and a lot of love and support in the air, marking the first annual Bohach Day a success.