“I’m always calling you ‘Chief,’ and now it means something,” Ernest Snyder told his son, Hunter, who had recently put on a badge and a dress blue jacket.
Indeed it did mean something.
Hunter Snyder, 18, of Hunlock Creek spent Friday morning serving as the City of Wilkes-Barre’s “Honorary Police Chief.”
In honor of April’s designation as World Autism Awareness Month, Hunter was one of five special needs students from the Graham Academy whom Wilkes-Barre Mayor George Brown appointed to temporary and honorary positions Friday morning.
During a press conference on the fourth floor of Wilkes-Barre’s City Hall, each of the five students received a white sash that identified their honorary positions: Morgan Qualters as mayor, Patrick Renter as fire chief, Andrew Aledo and Devin Edwards as city council members and Hunter as police chief.
The students were chosen for the honor based on their good behavior, Graham Academy program director Carol McGrane explained.
The mayor introduced each student to an assembly of reporters and photographers, and gave a little bio.
Morgan has a good sense of humor, the mayor said. She likes to ask questions and enjoys playing Challenger Baseball. He’s known her for a few years, he added. “She’s a sweetheart.”
Patrick Renter loves animals, especially his two dogs, and music.
Devon Edwards has a positive attitude and enjoys exercise, the mayor said. And, as anyone could see, Devon was rarely still, often jumping up and waving his arms with excitement.
Andrew Aledo is “one of the most responsible and polite individuals,” a role model for other students.
And Hunter Snyder is “a hard worker who dreams of someday having a job in law enforcement.” He also likes to paint and draw.
Later, as Wilkes-Barre Police Captain Michael Boyle gave Hunter and his parents a guided tour of the police station, Hunter proved he likes art by drawing a picture of the car Lightning McQueen on a white board in an interrogation room.
He also enjoyed visiting the exercise room where he happily lifted weights, punched and kicked a punching bag and rode an exercise bike — until his mother, Milena Snyder, cautioned him to stop, concerned for the jacket her son was wearing, a jacket Boyle had described as belonging to “the big guy,” a gentleman who wouldn’t mind if Hunter wore it for awhile.
“You don’t want to get ‘the big guy’s jacket’ all sweaty,” Milena Snyder cautioned her son.
Enthusiastic about his honorary service, Hunter seemed to enjoy even just sitting behind a desk at police headquarters. “I’m going to make 2023 the best year ever,” he said from that vantage point. “I’m going to save the world.”
While Hunter was at police headquarters, “Honorary Fire Chief” Patrick Renter accompanied Fire Chief Jay Delaney to the fire department on Ross Street, where he had the opportunity to operate a hose.
“He was so excited about this,” said his mom, Sheila Renter, noting that Patrick loves music and sang all the way from the family home in Scott Township, Lackawanna County, to Wilkes-Barre.
The Graham Academy, which has a lower school in Kingston and an upper school in Luzerne, has 183 students, ages 5 to 21, who come from 33 school districts.
Those who were chosen to serve the City of Wilkes-Barre on Friday morning would have some decisions to make, the mayor said. “I don’t have to work today,” he quipped, saying the young people would help make decisions about the color of new police vehicles and bicycles.
“What would you say?” Ernest Snyder teased his son. “Pink police cars?”
“No,” Tucker said with conviction. “That’s too girly.”
In honor of World Autism Awareness, the mayor told the honorary crew and their families, the area of the new stage on Wilkes-Barre Public Square would be lit up in blue through Sunday evening.