McMinnville High School has received an alarming increase in threats over the past month, causing many students to stay home from school out of concern for their safety
BY TOMMY DOUGLASS managing editor It’s no secret that when there is a devastating attack, like that which occurred in Parkland, Florida on Valentine’s Day, there is an increase of “copycat” threats across the nation. Usually, these threats are empty and just meant to be an insensitive attempt at a joke to scare people or get out of class; however, MHS has not only seen their own fair share of copycat threats, but these threats have elevated to a new extreme. Mac High didn’t just receive one threat like so many other schools across the state and nation, MHS received three different large scale threats in the first few weeks immediately following the Parkland tragedy causing many students to fear for their safety, and many other parents, students and community members to call for change in policy and procedural measures to better improve school security. The first of these threats came just two days after Parkland on Friday, Feb. 16. Out of the three threats, this has been the one that is most ambiguous; the one that most students know the least about. In fact, administration have revealed less details about this threat than others as well, likely due to the nature of the investigation. In an email sent to the Bruin’s own Natasha Bailey, School Resource Officer Toby Carver indicated that before school started on that Friday, someone alerted him of a potential threat to student safety and he then informed proper authorities and this combined effort was able to stop the threat before it ever became a danger. Carver and authorities also confirmed that an individual was arrested in connection with this threat and that law enforcement
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Garbage cans and stop signs were also tagged when the school was
show vandalized with gang symbols such as the one pictured above.
was taking it very seriously. “The threat was not imminent,” Carver said, but he then went on to talk about the perpetrator, “This particular person will not be allowed on campus anymore, and there are legal steps we are going to take.” The second threat was much more public and caused much more of a stir in the MHS community. This particular threat occured inside the bathroom of a local McMinnville business and read, “R.I.P. MHS March 1” scribbled on a the wall of a bathroom stall. Superintendent Maryalice Russell responded by sending home an email to students and parents in which she said, “...district and law enforcement became aware of the threat due to an individual reporting the incident…” Russell, like Carver stressed the importance of students in being alert and keeping the schools safe and said school administration had watched hours of video footage trying to identify the culprit. Russell also added that the threat likely wasn’t serious writing, “We have no information that would lead us to believe that the threat is credible…” Despite the proactivism of the school administration, the letter by Russell, and the immense increase in police presence--including more than four uniformed and undercover officers-- students and parents alike were still afraid leading to upwards of 1,000 students being marked absent on March 1 and prompting District officials to hold a safety meeting for District families on March 14. Finally the last threat occured on March 5, 2018 where students and staff arrived on a Monday to see graffiti all over the main campus, CTC, trash cans and stop signs. While the vandalism initially appeared to some as merely an act of delinquent teenagers, one particularly concerning piece of graffiti read, “u all DeaD Bitches” leading many students to again fear for the safety of their school. Principal Tony Vicknair published a letter titled “State of Grizzly Nation” in which he assured students the threats were not correlated writing, “And although this crime (unrelated to last week’s events) wasn’t directed specifically at our school, these individuals chose the wrong institution on which to convey their hate if they wanted someone to simply respond by defeatedly moving forward in despair.” The graffiti was promptly removed by District officials and Vicknair stated that the offenders have been caught. All the tension and fear boiled over on March 14, when over 200 students, led by junior Brady Shields, walked out of school from 10:00a.m. to 10:17a.m. to honor the 17 victims of the Parkland shooting. Students stood alongside community members as administrators looked on, many holding signs promoting their hope for change and a safer school climate. The Bruin MARCH 21, 2018 mhsbruin.com 3
McMinnville High School