Bomb threat cancels school day


Photo by Reyah Doshi

UPDATE (9/22/21 at 2:15pm):

Another email, sent out in the afternoon on Wednesday by Principal Stephanie Posey, announced that the building was safe to reenter and that classes would resume on Thursday. 

Posey talked to The North Star to give more details about the situation while staff and students were in Naperville Central’s auditorium.

“I’m disappointed that anyone would think this is humorous because it takes a lot of personnel, not to mention missing class, which is so important to us right now,” Posey said.

She discussed the potential steps that will be taken at Naperville North to ensure that the student body understands the repercussions of a bomb threat. 

“I’m hoping this is not a student, but we will be talking about that at school to make sure that everyone understands the vast amount of resources that this takes– the entire Naperville Police Department is now out on call at Naperville North. The FBI is involved, we have a lot of agencies that are being called in,” Posey said.

She also alluded to the way that the bomb threat was sent in, and emphasized the consequences.

“We lose a lot of resources here, just because somebody decides to send an email,” Posey said. “We have no way of knowing who it is yet. Cyber forensics is involved in this, and if we can find out who it was, they will be punished to the fullest extent of the law.”


ORIGINAL STORY (9/22/21 at 12:16pm):

A bomb threat to Naperville North High School’s building on Wednesday postponed, then canceled, the school day and all after school activities.

This is the second school cancelation in the last two weeks, the first one being an unexpected power outage. Principal Stephanie Posey sent out an email to parents at around 8:18 a.m., notifying them of the threat.

“The school will remain closed until the Naperville Police Department and our administration have deemed it safe to resume classes,” the email said. “Please do not come to campus.”

In a later Talk203 email, the district confirmed that Naperville North would be closed for the entire day and that both classes and after-school activities were cancelled. The email also said that all students and staff who were at Naperville North had been safely evacuated to Naperville Central High School. Parents and students could then go through a reunification process that ensured everyone got home safely, with the district providing support for stress caused by the incident.

“Social-emotional support for students who would like to speak with a social worker will be available all day at Naperville Central,” the second email said. 

Many students were still home due to the 9:00 a.m. late arrival start time, but the email was sent out after many students who take buses to school were already on their way. Freshman Shaye Kelliher’s bus was sent to the bus parking lot adjacent to the school.

“We stayed parked at the bus lot for probably 20 minutes before they said we were going to Central, and everyone was, not really in a panic, but everyone had a lot of energy,” Kelliher said.

Other students, who drive to school but park on nearby streets, also left before receiving news of the threat. Shannon Xu, a Naperville North junior, was just arriving at North when she saw numerous police cars and the staff evacuating. 

“One of the administrators came out and told us we need to go home now, and then we saw cops coming,” Xu said. “The school resource officer told us we needed to go home as well so we started walking away from school.”

The information that the district and school initially sent out was vague, leaving many students confused and worried. 

“I was in shock, a little scared. It was a really weird thing to happen on just a regular school day. Also seeing all the police cars surrounding the school, it was really scary,” junior Sophia Ruffolo said.

The emails from the school and District 203 went directly to parents, which caused confusion among students. Many had to wait to hear updates secondhand from their families. 

“It was just kind of annoying– I’m trying to figure out what’s happening and I have to keep asking what’s going on,” sophomore Alexsa Stewart said. “A lot of parents are at work and can’t communicate a lot with their kids. With the power outage, I got the email, so it was easy to find out what was happening.”

With North students and teachers crowding Naperville Central’s auditorium after the evacuation, Central students were concerned as well. Johnny Kim, an NCHS senior, commented on how this week’s school cancellation for NNHS students differed from last week. 

“I do think today’s incident has more people talking. We’re mostly concerned because a lot of us have friends at North and are anxious about what’s going on there,” Kim said.

For some NNHS students, this is not the first time they’ve experienced a school bomb threat. In May 2016, there was a bomb threat to Beebe Elementary. Camryn Hadaway, a NNHS sophomore who also attended Beebe, recounted what happened on that day.

“We were in school and we had to evacuate and walk to Jefferson. We sat there forever and just went home. It’s kind of different this time since we aren’t actually in school but it definitely reminds me of it,” Hadaway said.

Sophomore Luke Donaldson also attended Beebe Elementary when there was a bomb threat there, and believes that it affected the way he viewed the threat at North.

“Because I went through this at Beebe, I feel like I know more about how this will play out. The police and administration will make the best decisions for our safety with the information they have,” Donaldson said. 

The North Star will continue to update this story as it develops.