On Friday March 4, students woke up and got ready for school thinking it would be a normal school day. When they reached school they were greeted by Gresham Police Officers surrounding the school. Graffitied on the front of the school was ,“School Shooting 9:00 AM”, this is all the public saw.
A tag of a potential threat to their kids, what the public did not know was the threat that happened the night before over social media, and the hard work that staff and administration demonstrated that day.
School Resource Officer Dave Hickey was on his way to school when he heard from security officer Mike Melton of the tagging on the school.
“What actually made the graffiti a threat, was the social media threat the night before,” Officer Hickey said. “But because we couldn’t find a connection between the male suspect who made threat against a student of Gresham High (over social media) and the graffiti we made them two separate cases,”
Staff was in a million places at once trying to get control of situation, Officer Hickey being on his way to work had to spring into action as more information processed.
“I was commanding my officers, administration, while walking around the perimeter making sure all the doors were locked,” Hickey said. “ While doing this I was answering phone calls, I was in 100 different directions,”
Many questions were asked that day, and what many were asking is why was school not canceled and it frustrated many parents and students. It is understandable the emotions running through parents minds, but parents do not understand the process of canceling school.
Buses are directed to pick up high school students first then elementary then middle school, when administration was informed about the graffiti at 7:02 a.m., students were already on their way to school.
“At that time in the morning imagine this, high school kids are first in the bus route from here they go to elementary schools if I had or even could there wasn’t enough time to cancel school, there was no way,” Principal John Koch said.
Parents still asked why the buses were not directed to another place, rather than the school.
“You have to organize the moving of locations for buses, communicate with a lot of people to organize it safely, and there was not much time to do that,” Koch said “and then if I had sent the buses to another place, and have buses wait till kids got picked up, you would have of a ton of elementary kids waiting on the corner for their buses, and how unsafe is that, so the best choice was to get high school kids to the school.”
Over the last two weeks students have been posting their feelings over social media, like Facebook and Twitter. Students have reasoned that the way the situation was not handled properly and they were not being very well informed during the lock in.
Sophomore Mat Cornett was one of the students who shared his thoughts over social media.
“I felt that the district could have given better information, it made me angry that we had little communication (with administration),” Cornett said. “ This situation will bring us together as a school but it was a terrible thing seeing my peers crying and it made me very frustrated.”
While the reasoning some students had was understandable, there was some missing information that many students do not understand or do not know about. Koch initial reaction was the safety of the students that is what he and staff have been trained in.
“Securing the campus is your priority when you are an administrator safety is always first,” Koch said. “Communication comes second and if you look at the (way the) morning was rolling, lot of things that kept us (in a) lock out, things that need to be dealt with immediately, that communication out of the building is not as important as the safety of the students.”
Staff and administration did the best they could do, due to the situation they were put in, but in every situation you are put in there is something to learn, and our staff did learn and will take in consideration.
“We learned a few things, we learned about the communication, and we learned that it makes a lot more cause when parents are picking up kids,” Koch said. “Due to this it would be better off to not let parents pick up their kids, and just make sure we keep them as well informed as we could.”
More misperception from the public came after the school district sent out information that the school was in lock out and things would run as usual. This confused some parents, because they were hearing from their kids that they were stuck in their first period class.
“Next time we have to make it more clear, because for Gresham, we can’t send the same message as we do for other schools, due to structure of Gresham High,” Koch said. “We couldn’t continue classes and have kids walking outside from class to class due to the danger being outside.”
Students were quick to judge staff and administration for the events that occurred without having much info. The media did not publicize the issues administrators had to go through that day and the million of things they were handling. Students should not be quick to jump down on the people that all they were doing was trying to keep staff and students safe.
“Situations like this bring challenges, and the public perception do not understand what we do in those situations,” Officer Hickey said.