High school’s failures were many Monday, went beyond communication and started two days earlier

I normally look forward to my sixth-period gym class. It’s a great little break from the school day. I get to mingle with my peers and play sports I love. I don’t love it, however, when I have to text my parents telling them I’m going to have to leave halfway through the class because I feel I’m in danger.

Look, I understand that much of what came out midday Monday was just rumored, and we were supposedly safe, but the fact that the threatening Snapchat stories were uncovered by the school Saturday, and we knew nothing about it until 20 minutes before the rumored time of a school shooting is unacceptable. I’ve been in the high school longer than our principal and in the district for many more years than our superintendent, and have yet to see an error even close to this level until Monday.

I look back to the bomb-threat days with a previous administration, and all I can think was how fast we were removed from the building and how fast our parents knew about what was going on. Nowadays, the district does in fact provide very quick reports about lockdowns and lockouts that we are going on, but one mistake can be extremely costly, and from my viewpoint during sixth period, it was.

My problem with this incident doesn’t just come from the lack of communication, but the overall way the school handled the situation as it happened. As soon as I heard from a friend there could be a shooting in the next 20 minutes, I texted my parents, who then called the school. The school said they were aware of the situation, that we were safe, and they couldn’t elaborate at that time. I get that they can’t discuss criminal matters, but not being able to elaborate as to how I am safe with friends and social media telling me otherwise is, once again, unacceptable.

Then, we move on to the official emails. We all got them, including the automated one telling me it’s time to pay for my AP exams while I’m in my friend’s house next to people sobbing about how they don’t want to go back into their own school building. It took the district, not one, not two, but three tries to get their point across that everything was okay and that most of what happened was all just rumors. In an event of a real emergency, this would cause some problems that I don’t even want to think about.

I do appreciate the school’s partial awareness of their mistake by hosting a Q&A Tuesday night, as well as the upcoming assembly for students on Wednesday. I attended the Q&A and plan to be involved in the assembly Wednesday but unfortunately got exactly what I expected from the Q&A. PMHS Principal Mark Berkowitz’s apology was good, but he was flustered throughout the session. Points were addressed but questions were dodged, topics missed and the event seemed to leave students and parents in a more infuriated state than before, if that’s possible.

I applaud my fellow students for acting when our district did not. During the Q&A, a parent got upset about the fact that the rumors got out but, quite frankly, if there’s a next time and it isn’t just rumored, things will be a lot worse than social media posts that spark a near school-wide walkout. I would like to encourage my peers to continue reporting what they see, especially now, because we can’t be sure with the lack of communication seen from those above us.

Overall, there needs to be change. This whole event could’ve been avoided if the district emailed us Saturday night that they were working with the police on the issues, and we would all be safe to go to school Monday. But they did not. There’s no harm in over-communication, especially when it’s about young people. The district needs to see that to take action. The increasing incidents at Pelham Memorial High School have created concern for myself and my friends. I hope to see action taken immediately.