Unknown threat to North sends students home, causing third unexpected school cancellation

Unknown+threat+to+North+sends+students+home%2C+causing+third+unexpected+school+cancellation

Grace Muckerheide and Reyah Doshi

UPDATE (10/15/21 at 6:44 p.m.):

In an interview, Principal Stephanie Posey explained the situation, and the school’s response, more thoroughly.

“We are always going to err on the side of caution for students and staff or anybody in the building, so our guidelines or policies that we follow have a pretty robust crisis plan for both in the building and before or after school,” Posey said. “Everything that you could imagine, every scenario is [in the plan].… we will continue to make changes as necessary but there will not be a major overhaul.”

Made just weeks after a bomb threat also against Naperville North, the new threat generated concerns that repeat events could result in more lost instruction time for students throughout the year.

“I am concerned that this is becoming a pattern that we need to as a country look at to see why people are targeting schools,” Posey said. “This has to be a safe and secure environment for learning and for socializing.”

She alluded to a possible misconception about the situation as well.

“I cannot share information on the ongoing police investigation, but you shouldn’t make an assumption that it was a bomb threat,” Posey said. 

Posey expressed gratitude for law enforcement officials, staff and students for the way they handled the lockdown and evacuation.

“The fact that everybody sat and stayed calm and stayed in the rooms together and just persevered through it and followed all of the directions…” Posey said, “Everybody was just so good, I have never been more proud of the students than I have been today, they were just amazing.”

Law enforcement agencies continue to investigate the situation.

UPDATE (10/15/21 at 1:16 p.m.):

The homecoming football game and dance will happen as planned, according to a 1:03 p.m. email from Principal Posey. 

“The community should expect a larger than normal police presence at both events out of an abundance of precaution. We are not allowing students to bring any backpacks to the stadium,” Posey said. “All bags are subject to search upon entry.”

The email also acknowledged the mental and emotional implications of the threat for students and staff, saying that social-emotional support will be available at North on Monday.

UPDATE (10/15/21 at 12:01 p.m.):

Students exit the building through the NPAC doors at 10:44 a.m. while police officers monitor the evacuation. (Photo by Elissa Eaton)

Students exited the building from around 10:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m., with police officers monitoring the evacuation.

During the lockdown, Principal Posey announced via intercom that the homecoming assembly will be made up. 

“We will redo our assembly at some point in the future,” Posey said. “I’m so sorry and hopefully we will get back to normal soon.”

Information about the homecoming football game and dance is yet to be released.

ORIGINAL STORY (10/15/21 at 10:25 a.m.):

Naperville North High School entered a soft lockdown, then planned to send students home, Friday morning after a threat to the school. The nature of the threat is still unknown, but it is the third unexpected school disruption this school year and the second threat to the building.

“My heart is broken to alert you to a soft lockdown of the building with no movement to and from the building,” Principal Stephanie Posey wrote in a message around 9:15 a.m. “If we must shorten our instructional day today, I will send you the process to follow.”

Teachers were notified of the threat via email during second period classes. An intercom announcement quickly followed, urging teachers to check their emails so that they could initiate soft lockdown precautions. Sandy Parato, an English teacher at NNHS, was supervising a study hall when the email was sent out.

“This many school disruptions haven’t happened in my history at this school, but I’m sure they’ve happened before,” Parato said. “It’s just abnormal that so many events like this are happening so close together.”

School has been canceled twice this year, the first due to a power outage and the second due to a bomb threat on Sep. 22. The bomb threat left many students upset about the lack of direct communication from the school, with most information initially sent to parents. Principal Posey has since set up a messaging system through the Remind app, where she can send messages straight to students when emergency situations arise.

“I thought this [threat] was a lot better, we pretty much knew as soon as it happened and they sent out the Remind,” senior Kelly Patrino said.

The lockdown happened just before juniors and seniors were to attend the annual homecoming assembly. The threat also put Friday night’s homecoming football game, and potentially Saturday night’s homecoming dance, in question.

“It’s annoying how now we have to think about that because it’s a huge game for us and it’s messing us up,” senior football player Ryan Liberio said. 

For now, students wait to exit the building. The evacuation will be facilitated by the Naperville Police Department. 

“It’s kind of something that when it happens, I’m like ‘oh okay, it’s another one,’” junior Kate Gillespie said.

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

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