TOPEKA (KSNT) – It’s the first day of school, and while kids get to see their friends and favorite teachers again, there’s one thing staff at State Street Elementary are thinking about.

“We want to make sure that everyone is safe, and our number one priority is keeping the students safe,” said State Street Elementary School counselor, Aubree Rineberg.

Safety has been a big topic lately as schools, parades and even grocery stores have left numerous people dead this summer. With school underway for the Topeka public schools district, the staff here say parents can feel confident when dropping their kids off for the day.

“We do drills once a quarter to make sure that we know what to do if a situation were to ever happen,” said Rineberg. “And like I said, we also have protocols for making threat assessments, things of that nature, so that we know what to do and make sure we do it well.”

This is the first year for principal Paige Roberts. And in this year, she’s doing everything to make sure kids go home at the end of the day.

“My front office staff knows that I will be that first responder, and then we will also follow up by calling the police,” Roberts said. “But that person will have no entry or access to the building. We like to make sure we’re overly precautious.”

On top of making sure students are safe, school counselors are also implementing a new addition to State Street to help with mental health. Although this counselor can’t talk, she can provide some needed extra help.

“It’s easier for me to gravitate towards the animals than it is humans sometimes, and our kids are the exact same way,” said State Street Elementary School counselor, Hayley Van Amburg. “I mean it’s easy to forget that they might be little people, but they have the same big emotions that we do.”

Montana is the schools therapy dog. In her first year at state street, Montana excels in helping kids who may have behavioral problems.

“If they meet a certain behavior goal that day, they might get to walk her to the back of the school that day, or they might get extra time with her,” said Van Amburg. “So, she just provides a reward, and just that, like I said, that unconditional love and acceptance for the kids.”

No matter the age, we all need more than unconditional love. That’s why Jennie Watson with the Family Service and Guidance Center says the sooner someone can get help the better.

“Early intervention is always key,” Watson said. “The longer a person delays treatment, or doesn’t take care of their mental health concerns, the more likely there is those negative ripple effects.”