Thank-you cards decorate the walls of the Sarasota Police Department. These cards are not a collection that was kept throughout the year but from a delivery from Riverview High School students and staff.
On Nov. 14, the Sarasota Police Department received a hefty package consisting of handwritten thank-you cards from Riverview High School in regards to a lockdown prompted by a threat made against the school a month earlier.
“There was a call that came into dispatch that there was an active shooter on the school property. That is the reason there was such a response to the school because if there’s a call that comes out through dispatch that there’s an active shooter in a school, that is going to elicit a massive response–a critical response for a lot of law enforcement. Including us even though the school is not within our jurisdiction,” said Capt. Robert Armstrong of the Sarasota Police Department.
The Sarasota Police Department, Sarasota County Sheriff Department, Sarasota Fire Department Station 11, Florida Highway Patrol and Sarasota County School Board Police all responded to the call. Riverview High School made sure to deliver thank-you cards to all five agencies.
“The whole point is that we wanted to show appreciation and love to these fine people,” said Riverview High School English teacher Deb Bryan.
Bryan also oversees and sponsor’s Riverview High School’s Young Americans for Freedom Club which was the club that organized the thank-you cards’ activity. The club currently holds a total of six to eight student members.
Sophomore Sebastian Girstl is the Young Americans for Freedom’s chair and Annabelle Ramalho, a freshman, is the co-chair.
“As a club, we saw an opportunity to thank our law enforcement officers and the first responders in our county. As a matter of fact, every year, the club does a first responders lunch for the deputies and nurses here on campus,” said Girstl. “But, this year, because of what happened we decided to up that by ten times.”
Girstl said that more than 100 cards were made by all the Riverview’s clubs and staff members then distributed evenly to all five agencies.
“Those cards came mostly from students. Those students really stepped up and wrote incredibly heartfelt notes,” Bryan said .
The club is planning something big this coming February.
“Because of what happened we are going to do a lunch for all of the law enforcement agencies in the county,” said Girstl. “We want to show them the appreciation they deserve. That’s been the mission of this club for a very long time to show the law enforcement especially since they get disrespected often.”
Armstrong said the single call about potential trouble at the school was confirmed as a fake.
"We still assisted the Sheriff’s office and the School Board Police by clearing the rooms and making sure that there was no danger on the campus. I think that’s why the children and the school were thankful for us.”
“I was really thankful that they took the time to make the cards and to thank us. Even though we would do the job without expecting anything in return,” said Armstrong.