PCMS Track officially dedicated in honor of fallen officer

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Pulaski County Schools

A Pulaski County Sheriff’s Deputy lost his life in a vehicle accident in the early morning hours of Thursday, January 14, 2021.  That deputy, SGT Perry A. Hodge, was a beloved member of the community and a vital part of the School Resource Officer Program. He positively impacted the lives of countless adults and children during his 49 years of life and 15 years of loyal service to the citizens of Pulaski County.

Friday, April 29, the community gathered to remember SGT Hodge and to dedicate a lasting memorial to his life and legacy. The event was held at Pulaski County Middle School during the first-ever track and field event at the new state of the art track and field facility on that campus. The family of SGT Hodge, students, faculty, staff, board members and members of the community gathered as one to officially name the track the “SGT Perry A. Hodge Athletics Track.”

After the Presentation of the Colors by the Pulaski County High School Criminal Justice Program Color Guard, several speakers took the stage to remember SGT Hodge. The first was Riverlawn Elementary School Principal Kimberly Sink. SGT Hodge was the School Resource Officer at Riverlawn at the time of his death.

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Riverlawn Elementary School Principal Kimberly Sink. (Pulaski County Schools)

“SGT Hodge was an inspiration to everyone he crossed paths with,” Sink said. “He was charismatic, funny, full of wisdom, and never let his moods affect how he interacted with others.  SGT Hodge would often joke around with students as they were arriving and leaving school. He often would wish them a Happy 4th of July, Valentine’s Day, or Thanksgiving when it wasn’t any of those holidays just to see what they would say. When SGT Hodge learned Riverlawn had a diverse population of student backgrounds he began doing his research on how to greet them in their language. He had a good understanding of which Spanish words to use. Hola seemed easy for him to use. It was the Mandarin Chinese that gave him trouble. I didn’t realize what he was doing until I heard him say “meow” to a few students. When I asked him why he was meowing at students he told me with a serious face that he had learned to greet them in Chinese. When I looked up the translation, I realized he was trying to say ‘NeHow.’”

Sink went on to talk about how SGT Hodge inspired those around him.

“SGT Hodge had high expectations for himself and of those around him. He wanted everyone to reach their greatest potential and write their own story. On numerous occasions I have heard him tell others, ‘You don’t stop when you are tired, you stop when you are finished.’ He also told others to live every day like you mean it. SGT Hodge did exactly those two things. He lived everyday like he meant it and he didn’t stop until he was finished. He applied this philosophy in everything he did. Because he lived by showing others what he believed, he in return motivated others to do the same. SGT Hodge was born to be an inspiration to others. That was his natural gift. He was humble about his natural gift and often gave others the credit by lifting them up for accomplishing the simplest tasks knowing that was going to motivate them to do more. Because of this gift, he touched a lot of lives and left everlasting memories.”

Sink went on to introduce a song that was played in SGT Hodge’s honor, “Born for This” by The Score. The song lyrics describe being dedicated to your cause and your beliefs, despite any issues or problems that may arise.

Mrs. Melissa Poole, also of Riverlawn Elementary, described her interactions with SGT Hodge and how students and staff alike were always eager to visit and talk with him. She introduced an audio presentation of students and teachers talking about SGT Hodge and what he meant to them. That audio presentation can now be watched and heard on YouTube

Pulaski County Sheriff Mike Worrell described SGT Hodge as a dedicated public servant with a love of fitness and running. He recounted a conversation when SGT Hodge spoke to his son when Hodge was the SRO at the old Dublin Middle School. He said, “SGT Hodge knew my son ran the one-mile that morning, so he asked him what he ran it in? My son replied, ‘Blue jean.’ That story always brought a laugh.”

Dr. Paige Cash, Chairwoman of the Pulaski County School Board, read the official proclamation naming the track in honor of SGT Hodge. After reading the proclamation, the family was presented with a special gift by one of the most decorated track and field athletes in Pulaski County history, Grace Boone. During her time at PCHS, Boone won a staggering nine individual state championships.

At the conclusion of the ceremony, the Pulaski County Sheriff’s Department Blue Line car sounded its siren for 16 seconds in remembrance of SGT Perry Hodge, who was Patrol Number 16.

In truly inspired fashion, Pulaski County Middle School athletes won both the boys’ and girls’ portions of the first-ever track meet at the new school in dominating fashion. The Cougars finished with 92 points. Second place earned just 27 points. The Lady Cougars took first place with 58 points. Second place had just 33 points.