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More than half of students absent following threats

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Ellie Stucky
Math teacher Rocky Helm, right, and assistant principal Kevin Frye, left, check students’ bags Friday. Security measures were increased after somebody threatened the school.

More than half of the student body was absent today following a week of unease among students and staff regarding potential threats to the school.

Of the approximately 1280 students enrolled, 679 (53 percent) were absent at the beginning of fourth block.

“I wanted to come to school today,” sophomore Alicen Grindstaff said. “My mom did not feel safe sending me because all of the threats. I begged her to let me go, but she said she didn’t want to risk it.”

Tension has elevated each day this week after threatening rumors have been spread around the student body.

Grindstaff said she thinks the students who attended school today are brave.

“Instead of running away, they were brave enough have faced their fears and the rumors,” she said. “They were also able to trust the school.”

Precautions were put into place to ensure students safety. Staff and police searched backpacks as students entered the building. Entrance to the building this morning was limited to the main entrance and the bus entrance. Doors of many classrooms were locked.  
“I think it was very good that they had the precautions this morning with checking all the bags, and I think it’s good that most teachers are locking their doors,” senior class president Olivia Wagner said.

Some students attended half of the school day so they were eligible to attend their after-school activities. Sophomore Devon Nicholson intended to stay home but later came so he could attend baseball practice.

“I stayed at home because my parents felt like the situation was too threatening to me and other’s well-beings, despite the security,” Nicholson said.

While a majority of the students who were absent stayed home to avoid the threat, several of the absences came from prior arrangements, such as leaving early for spring break.

“We had a total of 50-some-odd messages when we walked in the door, and it had not stopped,” attendance administrative assistance Amy McKay said at the beginning of fourth block. “We probably had four pages front and back of call-ins. It’s been very busy.”

Although there was low attendance, several teachers stuck with their plans for class. Math teacher Jenny Meirowsky had a test planned for today.

“I did not change my lesson plans, no,” she said, “We still tested.”

Meirowsky, however, said she respected the decision of those who stayed home.

“I’m not going to judge either way, whether they stayed home or not,” Meirowsky said. “I think that that’s a decision that the student and the parent would have to make together, if they feel safe. … The ones that came I feel like were ready for a test. It was a normal day, so we took our test.”

Wagner said she thought it was important to be at school today despite the situation.

“Just because there are rumors that have [been] proven not to be real, I don’t think that really warrants staying home,” she said.

Senior Ana Vo said she was nervous about coming to school today but that she thinks she made the right decision in showing up.

“I was really overwhelmed last night with a bunch of people asking me if I’m going to go to school because they weren’t going to go, but then they are, but then they weren’t again,” Vo said. “I just didn’t want to really be alone today. Then I asked one of my friends and she reassured me that there’s only going to be certain doors being open and there’s going to a lot of cops and stuff like that and we’re going to have bag checks.”

Even though Vo wasn’t sure at first about coming to school today, she said she thinks the school has done a good job of making sure students feel safe.

“Yes, [the school has made me feel safe], because I haven’t had any thoughts about it yet today,” Vo said.

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More than half of students absent following threats