As safety is a top priority at McPherson High School, principal Bryce McFarland felt the need to hire a resource officer.

So, Joey Ruppert will start as school resource officer at the high school on Monday.

“At the beginning of the year, one of my goals was to get back to the basics. One of the ways that I wanted to do this was by increasing the safety and security at MHS. After talking with our staff to gather ideas of ways we could accomplish this goal, it was decided that getting a school resource officer would be a step in the right direction,” McFarland said.

Ruppert is the school’s first resource officer and said he is ready to take on the challenge.

“I’m really excited about this. It’s going to be a work in progress for everybody to get this in place and to get all the nooks and crannies fixed out,” Ruppert added.

Ruppert has three years experience in law enforcement. He was in the military for 16 years — four of them as a Marine.

“Obviously my duty is going to be protecting the students, school and staff, but to also educate the staff as far as security proposals and to implement different things to keep them safe as well as the students.

Another part of my job is going to be to educate staff about some of the new laws in regards to telecommunications devices and social media,” Ruppert said.

“He (Ruppert) will be able to help teach students about issues they face today in high school. He also will also enhance the safety and security of the building,” McFarland said.

Ruppert said he is there to make sure the students get the help they need.

“One thing I’d like to get across to them (students) and let them know is I’m trying to build a better rapport between law enforcement and the students. That way they understand that we’re not just there to enforce law — we’re also there to help,” Ruppert said.

With Ruppert’s long military experience behind him, he said he is excited to pass his knowledge and life experiences on to the students.

“When I was a drill Sargent while in the army, I enjoyed educating young soldiers. I know from life experience that being direct with kids and being up front and honest with them, that a firm hand isn’t needed all the time. Everybody deserves fairness and impartiality and I try to give that to everybody until they show me otherwise,” Ruppert said.

Ruppert said working in the school with students and staff is a large part of his job, but also said working with parents is just as important.

“I also want to get to know the families and parents.

It’s not just dealing with the kid’s problems, it’s also dealing with the parents. It’s going to be nice to put reassurance for the families in regards to working with the kids with all these shootings going on,” Ruppert said.