LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- It was a somber day at Holy Cross High School in southwestern Jefferson County on Thursday as the close-knit school community remembered one of its own -- fallen Louisville Metro Police Officer Nick Rodman.

Blue ribbons were tied around the front pillars leading up to the school, while the outside marquee read, "Officer Nick Rodman, Class of '05. Forever Our Hero." Inside, every student, teacher and staff member had blue ribbons pinned to their shirts.

"We tell our students that once you're a Holy Cross student, you will always be a part of the Holy Cross community ... so when something happens to one of them, it affects all of us," said Sister Maryanne Tarquinio, who has worked at the school for the past 26 years. "It's just been a difficult day, both yesterday and today. Because it is losing one of our own. And I think we will always feel that way. Nick was definitely one of us. One of our own." 

Rodman, 30, died Wednesday, a day after he was involved in a fiery crash in west Louisville. He was pursuing a domestic violence suspect and shots fired call around 8 p.m. Tuesday when his cruiser was hit near 26th and Duncan Streets.

He was a 2005 graduate of Holy Cross, where he played football and was an "all-around great guy," according to those at the school who taught both Nick and his younger brother, Andy. Both would follow in their father George's footsteps and become police officers.

"We are so extremely proud of him," said Tarquinio, who was the school's principal throughout the four years Nick attended, and also taught him advanced chemistry. "You could always depend on Nick. He had great potential. I always knew that he would do something wonderful with his life. And I looked forward to seeing what that would be."

Taraquino said she wasn't surprised to hear that Nick became a police officer about three years ago.

"He was always a student of great passion and he cared about other people," she said, pausing for a moment. "I know that Nick would've been a wonderful dad. We've lost a wonderful young man." 

Rodman and his wife Ashley have a young son, Mason, and a newborn daughter, Ellie Jean. 

"He was an excellent student. He had a very good mind, a very analytical mind," Tarquinio said. "But what has always stood out to me is he was such a wonderful young man. He was very involved at Holy Cross."

Although he could be serious-minded at times, Taraquino said Nick also "had a little bit of the impish in him."

"You know, he'd be a great joke teller," she said with a smile, then recalled a moment from Nick's senior year.

"The kids were doing a Shakespearean play ... and (the drama coach) was asking some of the senior boys if they would do it. And it was typical of Nick, he wanted always to help. But he also found a way to kind of put his own imprint on it."

Taraquino said he would agree "to be the King of the Fairies, if she would agree to his fairy costume having camo material in it. Which she did. And she still has that costume. We were talking about it yesterday."

"That was Nick," she said. "He wanted to really step up and help. But also, he was very popular. And he was going to be a little concerned about the way that he was going to look as the Fairy King."

There were only 75 members of the Class of 2005, Taraquino said, and they have all remained close even after 12 years.

Each summer, the Holy Cross Alumni Softball Tournament is held and for the past six years, the Class of 2005 -- with Nick at the helm -- won the tournament.

"We have lost a wonderful man," Taraquino said. "We want his family and his police family to know that they are in our thoughts and prayers. And that we grieve with them. And if there's anything we can do for them, that we would want to do that."

Funeral arrangements for Rodman are pending. 

Reporter Antoinette "Toni" Konz covers K-12 education for WDRB News. She can be reached at 502-585-0838 or @tkonz on Twitter.

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