Vague security threat deemed not credible


photo by Jake Arthur

Sophie Hill, HJO Editor-in-Chief

After “a vague threat to school safety…was found written in a boys restroom,” 686 students were called out of class in the two hours following the announcement sent out through an automated email sent out by the Hagerty High School Administration to all students and their parents at 11:11 on Thursday, Nov.  13, causing commotion, chaos and confusion across campus.

“I [was] scared and surprised they let students go to school,” sophomore Nicola Rous said. “And I‘m scared for my safety on campus because if something did happen, we would have all been there.”

The students left on campus had to deal with constant class interruptions, canceled testing, and students trying to remain calm over “a vague threat that was deemed not credible by the Seminole County Sheriff’s Department,” according to the second email sent out to parents and students following Thursday afternoon.

“I think parents definitely overreacted. Students are safer behind cinder block walls with the doors locked than parading across the courtyard,” chemistry teacher Romina Jannotti said. “However, the threat had already been deemed not valid and parents should have gotten proper information before making this a bigger deal than it needed to be.”

The effect was disruptive for the remainder of the day, causing students to work through many worried parents hurriedly checking out their kids by the dozens over the PA system. And not only did parents check out their kids, but they pressured other parents to do the same.

“I think parents can always err on the side of caution. And as a parent myself, I understand their concern,” Assistant Principal Michael Howard said. “And maybe [it is] because I work as an administrator in the school system and I know all the precautions that the faculty take, but I would not have been not likely to pull my kids out [of school].”

However, the biggest issue for students was found on social media. After many parents sifted through hasty, immediate news reports, they took to Facebook and fueled the panic.

“Overprotective parents caused misinformation and made up exaggerated accounts of what was happening,” senior Kiele Mohre said. “Their ridiculous generalizations of the worst-case-scenario caused students and other parents to be swept away in a totally unnecessary panic.”

Twitter was also ignited by students tweeting out rumors and false reports of the threat, causing an unseen panic to find an answer and explain the situation, regardless of whether it was accurate.

“There were a lot of funny jokes on Twitter about it and some people definitely overreacted which was crazy,” junior Tanner Stroble said. “Some of the students were fueling the fire, some of the kids were genuinely scared, but I think most of the kids were just joking around.”

And while some students decided to miss school the day following the threat, even after Dr. Williams stated that “at no point were any students or staff in danger,” the looming fear of violence on campus does not seem to haunt students. Furthermore, because administration took the act seriously without overreacting to the danger the threat implied, students seem to not fear future attacks.

“I have faith in the system and that the school would have taken any step possible to ensure our safety,” sophomore Brandi Swadling said.