HOLMES COUNTY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - We all have someone we look up to. For one Poplar Springs fifth grader, that someone is his school resource officer.
When Nathan Watford wrote a speech on his hero for a class assignment, his choice was no surprise to anyone, except Deputy Monty Merchant.
"He asked me did I want to come listen to his speech," Merchant said. "I didn't really know what the speech was about. It was very nice. It's meaningful, from his heart."
In his speech, Nathan labeled Merchant as three things: a deputy, his hero, and his BFF.
"We have daily meetings where we drink coffee and talk about girls," Nathan said.
What relationship advice has Deputy Merchant passed on to Nathan?
"Make sure you like one first, then get married," Nathan said.
Merchant said he enjoys every minute he gets to spend with Nathan.
"He loves life," Merchant said. "If everybody lived life like he did, it'd be a different world."
Deputy Merchant made Nathan a junior deputy, complete with his own badge, nametag, belt, and walkie-talkie.
Nathan tells Newschannel 7/Local 18 News that even after he graduates, he'll always remember his hero and best friend.
Nathan's full speech, titled "My Hero," is below:
Tom Hanks once said, "A hero is somebody who voluntarily walks into the unknown." Of course, I have a hero and his name is Deputy Monty Merchant. He is not just a hero, he is a deputy and he is my best friend.
First of all, Mr. Merchant is a deputy for the Holmes County Sheriff's Department. He has worked with them for three years. In 2016, Mr. Merchant came to our school, Poplar Springs, to be our resource officer. Mr. Merchant spends his days protecting us students, with duties such as controlling traffic and walking the campus making sure there are no intruders, and that students are in class.
There is no doubt that Mr. Merchant is a hero. Being a deputy, Mr. Merchant puts his life on the line to protect and serve. Deputy Merchant does not only protect the students and teachers. When Hurricane Irma came through and our school was a shelter, Deputy Merchant was here to protect all the people.
Last but not least, Mr. Merchant is my BFF. We have daily meetings where we drink coffee and talk about girls. We also talk about what we observed for the day and about the job of protecting the school. My favorite thing to do with Mr. Merchant is go riding in the cop car and he lets me turn on the lights. Mr. Merchant even made me his junior deputy. He gave me my own badge, name tag, a belt, and a walkie talkie. As you can see Mr. Merchant works very hard. He is the best ever!