Cheektowaga students are learning about Officer Jim Shields and Officer Craig Lehner while raising money.

November 20, 2017

Written By

Mary Friona Celani

It all started with teachers and students who wanted to take part and make a difference. The students have been working to raise money by having a series of dodgeball tournaments.  The kids pay $1.00 to stay after school and participate. So far the students have had two, with two more coming up soon.

The district will be raising money by having a ‘wear blue Wednesday’.

But, of course, it’s more than just raising money.

Much more.

Middle School teachers Jill Orlowski, Krystal Smith, and Kate Barbati have worked to organize an amazing upcoming event that will help keep the legacy alive of two Buffalo Police officers killed in the line of duty.  An event to remember Officers Jim Shields, who was killed in the line of duty fifteen years ago, and Officer Craig Lehner died during a training accident last month.

Jim Shields Senior Picture

It will be a two-day event.

On Tuesday, November 21st, the Cheektowaga Police wives will be assisting with a bake sale, which will give the students and staff another opportunity to contribute.

Also on Tuesday – a somber reminder of a life lost. Carol Kiripolsky is one of the forces behind the event – and explains why she felt the need, “Not only did my children attend Central but I am also a graduate from the class of 1984 and I graduated with late BPD Officer, Jim Shields.  When I heard about what they were doing in the Middle School, I reached out to Jill and Kate and told them how Jim Shields was an alumnus of Central and that I would love if we could somehow tell his story to the students.  They have been very supportive.  Tuesday, they will be running a slide show throughout the day with pictures of Jim as a student, brother, son, father and officer.  We want the students to see that he was from our Warrior family and how much he loved music, hockey, his jeep, his work, family and his sons.”

It’s an incredible way to bring it all home – to their home – Cheektowaga Central. The kids, the teachers and Cheektowaga Police officers – taking part. Carol says it’s a great life-lesson, “The Cheektowaga Police and Cheektowaga Middle School staff have paid to participate in the volleyball tournament which will be attended by the students. Our hope is to not only raise money but to also honor Officer Lehner and build a bridge between the students, the community and the Police,” Carol goes on to say,

“At the volleyball event, there will be poster boards with pictures of Officer Lehner, K9 Shield and Officer Jim Shields.  Hopefully the students will learn that the Police Officers are just like you and me, real people, but that they are also willing to lay down their lives to take care of our communities and us.”

That’s something you really can’t always learn in school. This game – this life-lesson – is a great opportunity for the students to meet the officers who serve and protect them and their families.

The event is not open to the public, but it’s a game these kids will remember for some time.


Yes, Shield was named after Officer James Shields and YES, Officer Shield’s son has named his puppy, Lehner. Our interview with Mike Shields.


About Me

Welcome to Totally Buffalo! My name is Mary Friona-Celani and I am the creator of this site! After spending 20 years in the Buffalo media, I moved on to focus on my beautiful family. Now, the time has come for a new project. I was ready for something new. Something mine.
I am born and raised in WNY and my pride runs deep. My husband, Scott and I are very happy to be raising our four daughters here.





1 Comment

  1. Avatar

    It never ceases to amaze me how people can come together in times of tragedy and yet turn it around for good. This is an incredible Tribute to both Officers. Gone But Never Forgotten. May Our Lord continue to watch over and Bless both of these families

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