Bomb threat tests crisis plan

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Bomb threat tests crisis plan

Law enforcement officials gather at the scene of a bomb threat at New Hope School.

Law enforcement officials gather at the scene of a bomb threat at New Hope School.

Photo by Thomas Richardson

Law enforcement officials gather at the scene of a bomb threat at New Hope School.

Photo by Thomas Richardson

Photo by Thomas Richardson

Law enforcement officials gather at the scene of a bomb threat at New Hope School.

Jasmyn Webb, News Editor

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On the morning of February 16, a startling bomb threat spread through the entire New Hope campus, pressing all the students and administrators to take action and evacuate the campus.

Mr. Sammy Sullivan, New Hope High School assistant principal, feels that the response to the threat was smooth and accurate, but there is still no impression of who committed the crime, even though it’s being investigated by the Sheriff’s department.

“The Sheriff’s Department will notify us, but this is something that the Central Office and Superintendent will handle and press charges on.”

To help with the investigation, the Sheriff’s Department is offering $500 reward to anyone who has information that leads to the arrest of the perpetrator. Sullivan explains that it provides the students the chance and motivation to do the right thing. In addition to them aspiring to do the right thing, this will simply give them a reward for their effective cooperation.

“It may help secure the correct information and let us know who really did this,” Sullivan added.

If this were to happen again, Mr. Sullivan feels poised that the administration would produce the same outcome as before, using the crisis management plan and trusting the investigators.

“I didn’t take the phone call of the threat. I couldn’t dictate the emotion of the person and their intentions, so I would treat every threat as a real threat.” Sullivan explained.

Students gather at the football field while Assistant Principal Sammy Sullivan keeps order.

Photo by Thomas Richardson
Students gather at the football field while Assistant Principal Sammy Sullivan keeps order.

Sullivan detailed how the crisis management plan justifies the role of the administrators on campus and how they break it down with the plan in mind.

“Each grade level is broken down into different buildings, where they are moved to a specific location so the parents of younger kids can attend one place, and the parents of older kids can attend another,” Sullivan described.

Though it all went smoothly, the administration may have to reconstruct that plan through the After Action Review (AAR), where the whole team sits, criticizes what worked and what didn’t work, and bargain a way to make it better.

Mr. Matt Smith, head principal, agreed with Sullivan’s statements. Smith added that the spreading of students was thoroughly thought through with Mr. Allison, NHMS principal, and Mr. Aldridge, NHES principal, but there is still room for change.

“In the future, the elementary students will be transported to Lake Lowndes, the middle school students will be transported to Mt. Zion Baptist Church, and the high school students will take refuge at the exact spot, unless there’s a need to vacate the campus,” Smith explained.

Smith stated that the plan teachers have is required by law. Therefore, it’s necessary to update it each year and train the staff and faculty.

“This plan includes inclement weather, bomb threats, active shooter, death on campus, death of a student, and isn’t limited in any way. I personally sit down over the summer and rework the plan to make sure every possible scenario is covered, ” Smith remarked.

Smith specified that he was grateful that the weather cooperated, and if the weather were complying, he’d still handle the situation in the exact same way. If it weren’t, he’d transport the students to Mt. Zion Baptist Church.

In the meantime, the rest is up to law enforcement.

“We, like everyone else, are only privy to what the Sheriff’s Department shares with us.  We do not know who sent the bomb threat. The Sheriff’s Department decided to offer the reward but so far, the reward has not helped find the offender,” Smith said.