For most students, their morning started as usual, heading to school for a seemingly normal day at Fox High School. As it turned out September 8th would be anything but normal when our school was evacuated for what we did not know at the time: a bomb threat.
“That event happened at the worst possible time,” Dr. Ryan Sherp, the building principal, said. “We got alerted of it about seven minutes before seven o’clock, that’s when the police arrived at our campus and that’s when they started to block off campus.”
Upon arrival at school, many students noticed masses of their peers being ushered to the football field only to see and hear the wail of police sirens heading toward campus. Although nobody was hurt and there was still fear in students, some felt secure in the hands of our administrators and staff.
“With the bomb threat they were able to get us out of the school safely and onto the turf and made sure we were all safe,” sophomore Jeremy Sykra said. “And whenever they found out we were all outside they moved us into a more secure building and were able to get us to our parents without any harm done.”
The Fox High School website lists one of their goals and outcomes for the district is to “create consistent protocols, practices, and trainings.” Goals of the safety of the student body were continually expressed by Dr. Sherp.
“[The Arnold police] blocked off our campus before we even knew what was going on, which was the right thing to do from a safety standpoint,” Dr. Sherp said.
Students were also concerned about their peers’ safety, even if they aren’t on the same campus as the current threat.
“If [the administrators] could do everything they would have stopped kids from going to Seckman and other big campus schools like Seckman,” freshman Sydney Clark said.
But, Dr. Sherp makes a point to say that the administrators did everything possible to ensure students’ safety in case of any emergency situations.
“So, you can never totally prepare for a situation like that, but what you do do, and we did do in this particular situation, is anytime you have a situation like that you have a debriefing session and you just take notes of things that went really well and things that you want to change for, God forbid, the next time which you hope there never is,” Dr. Sherp said.
Dr. Sherp also said that there are updated protocols for situations that may put students in danger.
“So we have a brand new crisis management plan that has a whole bunch of different scenarios from bomb threat to a tornado to fire to intruder to bus accident and it has step-by-step processes that you should do,” Dr. Sherp said. “So, obviously one of those is bomb threat and it kind of gives you a checklist of things that you should do.”
Our school has been equipped with how to handle these types of situations, but have the students been completely prepared?
“Well, the bomb threat drill is not really necessary in the sense that it really is an intruder drill,” Dr. Sherp said. “When you have somebody who is bringing a bomb on campus they are basically an intruder coming on campus, but instead of with a gun they are coming with a bomb.”
But some people disagree and feel the need for a bomb threat drill.
“I think they should start doing bomb threat drills to make us safer and be prepared for what we need to do instead of everyone freaking out about something,” senior Brie Aldridge said.
Not only do students worry during emergency situations such as the one on Friday, but so do parents.
“Maybe just try to stay in contact via text with their child,” Dr. Sherp said. “But, coming on campus whenever the campus is shut down doesn’t help the situation at all. And also because it makes other kids nervous when they see that. And the last and worst thing is getting on social media and then spreading half-truths or ‘I heards’ to the community because that only adds to miscommunication and that miscommunication a lot of times adds to the hysteria.”
While the campus was on lockdown, the middle schoolers were transferred to the elementary school, which wasn’t in session at the time and then to the service center. Even though both schools were lucky that the elementary school wasn’t in session, on a Friday morning the elementary school typically is having classes, meaning the middle school couldn’t evacuate there in a different situation.
“So, every school has a crisis plan that they follow and an evacuation plan, so [the middle school] would have followed what their evacuation plan was, but it would have probably have been our football field would be my guess without knowing what it is, but it’s good space that could have accommodated us both if need be,” Dr. Sherp said.
Even though a time of uncertainty, the Fox High School community helped each other and made the process easier for those around them.
“I would say everybody did, under the circumstances, an amazing job,” Dr. Sherp said. “Our students were composed, they listened, they were very calm, and our staff all found ways of helping our kids be relaxed and let them know that they are safe. We were able to get everybody off campus in two hours which was pretty amazing.”