• Bryn McConnell

School Shooting Threat - December 9, 2021

At around 9:30 a.m. on Thursday, Dec. 9, there was a school shooting threat written on the wall in a girls’ bathroom. An image of this message was quickly spread around the student body through texting and social media even before the school was officially notified of the threat, causing mass miscommunication.

In response, the school immediately began investigating the threat and added an increased police presence to the Student Resource Officers (SROs)– who already protect school safety on a regular basis– on the day of the threat. They were present throughout the next day as well for the sake of remaining cautious. This was despite the school quickly determining that there was “no imminent threat,” as was announced in an email sent at 10:10 a.m. by Mr. Mayo on the day of the incident.

As of Wednesday, Dec.15, it has been reported that a 15-year-old girl was charged in the incident. She faces charges of “first-degree threatening, which is a class D Felony, third-degree criminal mischief and breach of peace” (The Patch, 2021). The perpetrator's name cannot be released due to her status as a minor.

Sophomore Hanna Klingbeil said that she thought the escalation on Thursday was due to a “communication problem” between the school and students. Klingbeil elaborated, saying that the school “lacked communication with the students, which created a domino effect which enabled a crazy mindset in the student body and created a whole mess and people weren’t really thinking rationally.”

This incident emphasizes the importance of contacting a teacher or administrator at Greenwich High School if you see something suspicious. However, the danger of misinformation is also a pressing issue, which is why honesty is just as crucial as transparency. The well-known saying “If you see something, say something” is a crucial part of the Sandy Hook Foundation’s message in order to make sure that this incident is not repeated and to ensure the safety of the schools everywhere. It was the 9th year since the Sandy Hook Elementary School Shooting on Tuesday, Dec. 14th (only a few days after the threat), reminding us all why it is important to stand together as a community in the face of uncertainty.

Despite the anxiety that was caused by this incident, the student body and administration has rallied to overcome the emotional harm brought to students and instead, provide support for each other. GHS students have access to school counselors and mental health staff that they can contact if they are feeling anxious about the situation. The school administration also vowed to be more effective with their communication in the future during a virtual assembly during homeroom on Tuesday, Dec. 21st.

This assembly involved speeches from GHS Principal Ralp Mayo, Dean of Student Life Thomas Pereira, Supervisor and State Attorney Michael Nemec and two School Resource Officers: Fred Reisch and Chris Wallace.

One of the main topics of the assembly was the misinformation that was caused by students sharing unverified information. Reisch addressed images of two officers arresting a student, an image of a man with a gun and certain rumors circulating that falsely accused a student of being the perpetrator of the incident when they were not actually involved at all. “All of these posts were completely false. They are inaccurate,” Reisch said.

Pereira said, “We are asking you, our students, to really think through your social media posts, as well as your messages to others, which include text messages… Additionally, when you hear information that concerns you, please we ask you to report it directly to a trusted adult and school personnel.”

Junior Isabella Gega agreed that “there was no communication and we were all clueless at the time.” However, she added that “I don't think it was just the miscommunication or just the social media or just teachers' reactions. I think it was an accumulation of everything. And that's why students were just so overwhelmed at the time.”

Despite everything that went wrong, there were some good things to come out of the day’s chaos.

“When I found out [about the threat], I went home; I cried for an hour. And then I jumped in my car and I drove right back to school. Just to pick kids up. I picked up my friends. I picked up strangers. Literally, it was like I was an Uber service at the time,” Gega joked. “There was one kid who was ordering Ubers for everyone that was there.”

“I was terrified at the time, but afterwards, I reflected, and I just really appreciated what students were doing and the fact that they just would do anything to make sure their peers were OK as well,” Gega said.

It is important that everyone cares for themselves and each other so that as a community, Greenwich High School can become stronger from this incident and prevent anything like this from occurring again.

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