On Tuesday afternoon, Denali Montessori Elementary School held a special event at the end of the school day to thank all of the first responders who have answered the call of duty throughout the year.

On Oct. 3 last year, two men were involved in an altercation outside the school, resulting in one of them being shot. The incident had nothing to do with the school itself, and Anchorage police were on the scene in under two minutes.

First responders were also on scene after the magnitude 7.1 earthquake on Nov. 30 and have been a steady presence at the school this year.

“We’ve had more presence of our police here, oftentimes during arrival or dismissal, than is typical in other years and this is my ninth year here," said Principal Ruth Dene.

Dene says the rise in calls is due to student and parent anxiety, but also that parents are appreciative of all the work the first responders do. 

"We thought this was a great opportunity to create a day where we could thank them and show our appreciation for them keeping us safe throughout the year." Parent and Parent Teacher Student Association member Cynthia Parkin said. 

At the event Tuesday, the Denali Montessori student government presented both the Anchorage Police Department and the Anchorage Fire Department with banners that included the school's polar bear mascot in the middle surrounded by all 440 students’ names in paw prints. 

Both departments returned the gesture by talking with students and handing out paper hats and stickers. The biggest draws, however, were the police squad cars and a firetruck.

"I think my favorite thing was when the firetruck came in," Fourth grader Jihyeon Nickeson said.

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