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The Student News Site of Thomas S. Wootton High School

Common Sense

The Student News Site of Thomas S. Wootton High School

Common Sense

False bomb threat alarms students, staff

Students+stand+in+the+baseball+outfield+after+being+evacuated+from+the+school+on+Nov.+27+due+to+a+bomb+threat.
Photo by Elizabeth Mehler
Students stand in the baseball outfield after being evacuated from the school on Nov. 27 due to a bomb threat.

The second period had barely begun when a voice played over the intercom. Most students shrugged off the announcement of an evacuation until the voice of Assistant Principal Stephanie Labbe stated “This is not a drill.”

At approximately 8:30 a.m. on Nov. 27, a directed evacuation was announced and all students and staff were instructed to exit the building. Given it was a directed evacuation, students and staff were required to be a further distance from the school than during a typical fire drill evacuation. Classes were evacuated to the Frost soccer fields, the softball field, the baseball field, and the Rockshire parking lot. Students remained outside for approximately 35 minutes before being let back into the school.

The cause of the evacuation was quickly spread amongst students and staff. A bomb threat had been called into the main office. Shortly after the threat was made, Principal Douglas Nelson called 911. The administration attempted to provide as much information as possible over the phone, but police quickly arrived on the scene to gain a better understanding of the situation. Thirty minutes after the threat had been made, the directed evacuation was announced. Senior Neha Govind was immediately informed by her second-period teacher that it was a bomb threat. “I couldn’t believe that it was real. I was worried that I wouldn’t make it out of the school fast enough,” Govind said.

While students waited in their designated directed evacuation spots, a bomb threat response squad made up of school security, police and a canine team walked the building. They determined the threat was not valid and cleared the school, allowing students back in at approximately 9:05 a.m..

A person who was involved in the bomb threat was identified the same day, but Nelson declined to share whether it is a student, due to the ongoing police investigation. The person involved was identified through the work of different groups. “The police were very helpful. But it was a process in which Wootton personnel and MCPS safety and security personnel and police detectives were all a part of that investigation, identification, questioning, and learning more about what happened,” Nelson said.

Students have expressed mixed reactions to the bomb threat evacuation. Sophomore Jason Ciecwierz-Elias admitted to being “bored out of [his] mind” during the 35 minutes they were evacuated from the school. On the other hand, senior Giovanni De Angelis found the experience to be “a refreshing, very cold break from biology.” Others found the experience more alarming. “I was frightened and wondering if we’d even get to go back into the school that day,” Govind said.

Nelson is appreciative of the work of staff and security that allowed for an efficient evacuation. “I was very impressed and thankful that day, to be perfectly honest. I feel like the systems that we had, they’re never easy when they’re real. We got students and staff into areas we have designated as safe places to be and we did that in a timely manner. That’s the ultimate goal.”

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Elizabeth Mehler, news editor
Senior Elizabeth Mehler is an Editor-in-chief in her fourth year on Common Sense. In her free time she enjoys reading, traveling and spending time with friends. She hopes you find Common Sense to be both engaging and informative. You can find her on IG @elizabeth.mehler
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