Thursday, December 20th, 2012
Student programs canceled
By Amy Kronenberger
ST. MARYS - Assemblies planned for today and Friday at the middle and high schools have been canceled after rumors surfaced of a possible threat.
Superintendent Shawn Brown said he learned of rumors circulating through the school on Wednesday that an assembly would be the best time to stage a shooting.
"We got wind of somebody saying that Friday, being the end of the world, would be a good time to do something," he said.
The rumor quickly spread on Facebook and Twitter, Brown said.
High school principal Dave Lewis contacted St. Marys police immediately after hearing of the rumor. Police and teachers began interviewing students but couldn't find a source. No specific person or people were threatened.
"I think it's a rumor, just a rumor," Brown said. "But we have to take these things seriously, especially in light of what happened in Connecticut."
Twenty children and six staff members were killed Friday at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., by a gunman who then killed himself.
St. Marys police chief Greg Foxhoven said officers talked to five high schools boys who believe some things they said may have been overheard and taken out of context.
"I don't think they made any intentional threats," Foxhoven said. "I don't know if they were the only group or if there were other groups having similar conversations, because this thing snowballed very quickly."
Foxhoven's investigation is ongoing. He doesn't foresee any charges being filed.
Teachers and administrators met and agreed canceling school would be too drastic. However, they agreed to cancel all assemblies today and Friday, which included a Teen Sex in America assembly at the high school, DARE graduation and choir and band Christmas concerts at the middle school.
The school notified parents of the situation Wednesday afternoon, letting them know of the canceled events. Some parents chose to keep their children at home today for safety.
"I took a lot of calls from concerned parents last night," Brown said this morning. "I don't think there are a lot of absences today, but some parents decided to keep their kids at home and that's understandable."
Foxhoven has increased security at the school; two officers are walking the halls.
"On any given day, we have a pretty strong presence in the school, especially in the mornings," he said. "But this week we'll beef it up. Hopefully, it'll help ease the minds of the community."