Recent shooting threat brings up unsettling emotions
November 11, 2019
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In society today, there are a number of different issues that present themselves, a lot of which affect the student population to a large degree. 15 to 20 years ago, many of these topics could not have been predicted to be major problems this generation would have to deal with today.
One major concern is the topic of school shootings and/or threats. On Tuesday Oct 8, OHS students and parents received an email at 7:10 in the morning, explaining that there was a plausible threat found written on a lab table. However, according to the Phoenix Police Department, it was not a real threat. Nonetheless, security remained on high alert for the rest of the day. Justin McLain, assistant principal and athletic director, explained why the situation was handled the way it was.
“The information that was put out there was not credible and was completely vague. We acted based on that information from the Phoenix Police. We trust their judgement and that’s how we handled the situation,” McLain said. “If they would have come back to us and said the other piece, like that it is viable or it is credible we would have acted differently. And the situation would have been 180 degrees different than the way it was handled.”
The email sent out that morning was released with the purpose of informing parents and the general public of this newly found information. It was sent out to raise awareness in case something possibly happened.
“[The email was sent] to notify the community and to give parents the choice; the goal was to get it out early enough in that day, 7-7:10 I believe was when that went out. But the goal was to notify the community of the situation, that we had a vague threat that did not provide a lot of detail, but the thought was to notify the community so that was the reason that email went out,” McLain said.
Overall, with the amount of information given and the resources involved, McLain agreed that the situation was handled in the best possible way.
“Absolutely, from a security point of view, absolutely. We were in touch with the Phoenix Police, we investigated everything in a timely manner, and as the investigation continued, more information was provided to us and so in terms of the security piece, yes,” McLain said.
From the perspective of the parents and students, it was just as upsetting of a situation for them as it was for administration. The information was taken as expected; many parents decided to pull their kids out of school in case something occurred. However, some students still decided to stay for the rest of the day.
“From a parental standpoint, I understand that it was inconvenient for them to have to come and pick up their kids, and that there was some frustration that was out there… And also from a student perspective, that’s a tough question to answer because you still had a lot of students still on campus and learning was still taking place in the classrooms, so was it handled [well] from the students’ perspective? Absolutely,” McLain said.
For any future incidents, McLain highlights the importance of bringing about awareness of such occurrences. Anything that seems suspicious needs to be reported.
“We need the information so we can act… the kids are in the trenches, they see what other kids are doing before adults see what kids are doing,” McLain said. “Sometimes kids see what other kids are doing and it’s not appropriate and it’s not positive for what we’re trying to do as a school with helping kids learn. So when that’s the case we just need to know so we can intervene and act.”
A large part as to why events such as this one become an issue, is due to social media. Students have the ability to spread the word about such things and can affect people on a larger scale. It even has the possibility of turning into a trend. Although social media does not always help to create the problem, it definitely aids in the end result.
“I would say, even as a senior with only three classes, it’s so weird to think about the fact that I could come to school and be in danger. And I don’t think any child should feel that way. And I would say social media especially has affected that, especially because we’ve had threats before and that one was a lot larger even though it was a smaller threat because people spread it around and were able to use social media to get to it,” said Caitlin Vasko, senior.
Social media in itself has moved to shape the generation of today, and those of the future. And with it, arise different opinions. Bradley Garraway, head of security, explains that he believes there is the good, the bad and the ugly when it comes to social media. If used appropriately it has major benefits. However, many students, he’s witnessed, continue to use it inappropriately.
Social media plays many roles in today’s society. And it has become such an influencer, that it has gotten to the point that the media changes the way people think.
“Whether it’s Instagram, Twitter, Facebook…or Snapchat or Tiktok, or whatever the app or program it is they’re using… unfortunately, sometimes the media has an influence on people’s perceptions. And unfortunately a vague and non-credible threat has the potential of causing fear in people because of situations in the past and what the media puts out there,” McLain said.
Many of these concerns affect this generation specifically. 20 years ago people didn’t worry about school shootings. Social media did not exist and therefore did not have an effect on society, like it does today.
“When our parents were younger, I’d say that these big things, like climate change and gun legislation, they were prevalent but they weren’t as prevalent. And it’s not like they were coming to school and fearing for their lives, it’s not like they were getting statistics saying the world was going to end in 2030 because of climate change. So I think for us it’s a lot more drastic, a lot more extreme,” Vasko said.
There are several circumstances that have played a part in shaping our perspective of the world today. Social media and school threats are only a few of the many examples that are out there. Issues like these affect people deeply and will continue to do so in the future.
“I think a lot of things are happening in our world right now from climate change to gun legislation to all those kinds of things and think that, as highschoolers, sometimes it can be hard to shift through it all and understand our own opinions,” Vasko said. “And I think that this is the time for us to step away from our parents and start deciding our own lives. I think that being able to sort through all the news, media and politics, that’s affecting our society pretty majorly right now.”