CHICAGO (CBS) – Students from a Catholic school on the South Side are paying a special tribute to the men and women who keep them safe on a daily basis.

CBS 2’s Sandra Torres shows us how from Englewood.

Classes are not in session yet, but students at the Academy of St. Benedict the African are already on school grounds. They are celebrating the upcoming school year and hosting a special “thank you” barbeque.

“We are here to say thank you to our officers for helping our community,” said Dantrell Poole, 6th grader.

The school is located on 60th Street and Laflin, in the heart of Englewood, a neighborhood known for violent crime.

“Up to two years ago it was scary,” said.

But now, parents and staff say things are different.

“There’s been a change in environment, a sense of comfort and security about being in school,” said Patricia Murphy, who has been the principal of the school since 1991.

Thanks to the work of police officers at District 7.

One particularly – Officer Mike Cleary, an 18-year veteran, who for the past 10 years visits the school on a daily basis.

“Office Cleary has been a wonderful resource to our school. A security blanket to the school,” said parent, Marleah Johnson-Cage.

“I come in, I ask how’s everything going, any problems,” said Officer Mike Cleary, Chicago Police Dept. 7th District.

“When I see Officer Cleary, I light up knowing he’s here protecting our school,” said.

And even though he doesn’t want to take all the credit, everyone at the school said he has made a difference.

“Officer Cleary, I hope we can repay you for all you’ve done for us,” Poole said.

Chicago Police said new technology is helping officers reduce crime in the 7th District, but parents and staff and this particular school insist what has made a difference is the officers’ presence.