Josh Casassa, school resource officer at Havelock Middle School, entered the school’s gymnasium to rock-star treatment.
Students and staff gathered for a pep rally to surprise him with various awards, including a Certificate of Recognition from the Craven-Pamlico chapter of Mothers Against Drunk Driving.
"He never misses a day of work, and he always spends time in the cafeteria talking to each and every one of you," Havelock Middle Principal Tabari Wallace told the students during the pep rally. "He has changed how you perceive those who protect and serve."
Wallace said Casassa took a leadership role with students after the mass school shooting in Newtown, Conn., in December.
"He said nothing would happen to students at Havelock Middle School under his watch," Wallace said.
Wallace said eighth-graders at the school actually wrote the nomination for Casassa to receive the award from the MADD chapter, which is holding a more formal dinner to recognize all of its honorees in New Bern.
Casassa also received a school award and a special collage created by the students and presented by eighth-grader Alyssa Crowe.
Casassa entered the gymnasium to loud applause and slapped hands with students seated for the pep rally.
"I think of all of you as my family," he told the students during the pep rally. "If you ever need anything, I’m here."