The student news site of Mountlake Terrace High School in Mountlake Terrace, Washington.

The Hawkeye

The student news site of Mountlake Terrace High School in Mountlake Terrace, Washington.

The Hawkeye

The student news site of Mountlake Terrace High School in Mountlake Terrace, Washington.

The Hawkeye

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The Hawkeye May 2024
1st Amend Award School

Threats cause disruption, fear

Student safety is the primary concern for officials
©HAWKEYE image credit: Jacob Allard
MTHS students, shaken up after the June 7th shooting scare, line up outside the attendance office to be excused for the remainder of the school day.

Several threats to school safety during the week of June 4 to June 8. The threats culminated on Thursday, June 7, when the MTHS campus entered a state of total lockdown by administration at approximately 11:14 a.m. through an announcement over the intercom. This total lockdown lasted until approximately 11:30 a.m., when administration announced over the intercom that the total lockdown was over and the building would be put into a state of modified lockdown for the remainder of the day.

Principal Greg Schellenberg attempted to keep MTHS families informed of the situation during and after the response to the threats unfolded on campus. Schellenberg sent a series of emails and letters and the Edmonds School District (ESD) sent several robocalls to the MTHS community throughout the week.

Because of continuing issues with graffiti threats, [MTHS] is operating under an abundance of caution and went under modified lockdown at 10 a.m. and remains on modified lockdown at this time,” Schellenberg said in an email to MTHS families shortly after the total lockdown was called off on Thursday. “No one will be allowed into the building, but students and families can make the decision individually as to whether they stay on campus or leave.”

During the modified lockdown, which was initiated at approximately 10 a.m. and resumed after the total lockdown, police officers and school administrators patrolled the hallways and perimeters of the campus, and teachers had to keep their doors and windows shut and locked. Students were allowed to leave school if they had their parents or guardians call in to excuse them for the rest of the day, but they were not allowed to re-enter the campus after they had left. After the total lockdown, a long line extended from the attendance office of students seeking to leave campus for the remainder of the day.

The modified lockdown was called off by the administration at 12:57 p.m. after the Mountlake Terrace Police Department (MLTPD) determined the threat which had triggered the lockdown was a hoax. This announcement meant normal school operations were restored and after school activities could proceed as normal.

The threat, which had directly triggered the full lockdown, stated that something would occur at the school at 11:20 a.m. on Thursday. This threat was found to be a hoax after it was traced to a former student from a Washington state high school who currently resides in California.

The threat became widespread through rumors spread by students on social media and through word of mouth. This rumor, with a specific date, time, coming after four previous graffiti threats to the school earlier in the week, combined with the already tense attitude on campus led the administration to declare a precautionary total lockdown at the time the threat said an attack would take place.

The MTHS community became aware of a series of threats to the school beginning after school on Monday, June 4, when Schellenberg sent home a letter and email to MTHS families informing them of two perceived graffiti threats discovered inside of two boys bathrooms.

These threats were preceded by a graffiti threat spray painted onto a wooden surface at the school, and all three of these graffiti threats read “6/5/18”, which was the day after the threats were reported to the MTHS community by administration. One of the threats, etched into a stall in the boys bathroom, had an image of a weapon, reported by many students to be an assault-style rifle, alongside the date reading “6/5/18”.

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Although MLTPD determined there was no credible threat to the safety of the school, administration acted out of caution and implemented additional safety measures on Tuesday, June 5. An MLTPD police officer was assigned to be on campus for the day, in addition to security measures already taken on campus, such as monitored security cameras and restricted entrance into the building.

Additionally, families were allowed to excuse their students from attending school for the day if they or their students were not comfortable with them being on campus. After school on Tuesday, administration reported average attendance for classes during the day was at 45 percent. Teachers were required to come to school and teach their classes as usual.

In an email sent out to MTHS families after school on June 5, Schellenberg attempted to provide an explanation of the day’s precautions and reassure the MTHS community that the campus is safe.

“School safety will always be the priority of MTHS and the ESD,” Schellenberg said. “I realize that school events in the news jeopardize that sense of security for students and their families, along with school staff. I do want to point out that this circumstance was reported by MTHS students, which is the climate we want – for students to see something and say something by reporting to families and adults at school.”

Schellenberg also provided updates on security measures which had been planned to be implemented earlier in the school year, such as a door control system and a school resource officer (SRO).

“MTHS has completed the electronic access control installation,” Schellenberg said. “During the day, our main entrance is the only unlocked door and the only entry point into the school. HUB doors are unlocked just before and just after school, as well as lunchtime. During the day, we conduct checks to locate any doors that did not close properly. Door security is critical and we communicate with students, staff, coaches, vendors and the community to not prop open doors for convenience.”

The SRO position will be filled by the beginning of the 2018-2019 school year, after the timeline to fill the position was pushed back and the position could not be filled before the end of the current school year. MTHS currently operates with a school liaison officer from MLTPD, who has a presence on campus multiple times each week.

On Wednesday, June 6 another perceived threat to school safety was reported to administration after school. This threat, discovered inside of a girls bathroom, spoke of being bullied and wanting to harm the school, as reported by ESD officials.

The MTHS administration has decided to take precautions on Thursday, June 7 similar to those taken on Tuesday, June 5 to combat the earlier graffiti threats. Principal Greg Schellenberg sent home an email to MTHS families after school to inform them of the graffiti threat and briefly detail the school’s response to the perceived threats to school safety, including having an officer of the MLTPD on campus for the remainder of the week. However, not all parents received the email.

Parents were permitted to keep their students home from school on Thursday with an excused absence as they were on Tuesday. As on Tuesday, students were responsible for making up all missed work, in accordance with the policies of their teachers.

In an email sent by Schellenberg to MTHS families after the threat was discovered, Schellenberg stressed the mental health impact of the threats.

“[The MTHS administration] recognizes that these threats can be stressful,” Schellenberg said. “[The MTHS administration] encourages [families] to listen to and talk with [their] student.  Reactions to stressors like this are unique to each individual, and there is no timeline for how someone may experience them. If a student leans toward anxiety or depression, this can be a difficult time.”

Teachers were instructed to read aloud an email to their first period students on June 7 regarding procedures and expectations following the graffiti threat.

MTHS planned to operate on a modified fire alarm plan. In the event of a fire alarm, staff and students would not evacuate immediately. They were instructed to cover in place as officials investigated the cause, after which students and staff would be notified classroom by classroom about the next step.

Students were also advised to refuse to let anyone enter the school at any entrance besides the main upstairs entrance. All external doors were to remain locked with the exception of the front entrance to the school; the doors by the HUB were opened immediately before and after school. Students were also authorized to close any external door they saw propped open.

On Thursday, June 7 further rumors were spread over social media and through word of mouth among students, which led to the threat which specified that something would occur at 11:20 a.m. to become widespread. Administration was concerned that they were not notified immediately after students became aware of further threats.

“Unfortunately, unlike the previous graffiti threats when students quickly brought the matter to our attention, rumors were spread amongst students for some time before staff were alerted,” Schellenberg said. “This is an opportunity for us all, staff and families, to reinforce the idea that when we see something concerning we should tell authorities about it as soon as possible.  Otherwise, we run the risk of a rumor getting out of control and causing serious upset, as it did today.”

This threat, combined with the four other earlier threats, led to the precautionary lockdown initiated by the administration at 11:14 a.m. The lockdown took an emotional toll on students, which was acknowledged by Schellenberg in an email sent home to MTHS families after school on Thursday.

“For our students and staff, that full lockdown was traumatic,” Schellenberg said. “While the lockdown served the purpose of securing the building, it came at an emotional price. Reactions to stressors like this are unique to each individual and there is no timeline for how someone may experience them.”

Schellenberg encouraged families to talk with their students and attempt to guide them through the emotions they may be experiencing as a result of the threats during the week, and especially as a result of the full lockdown on Thursday.

“We encourage you to talk to your student about their experience [on Thursday],” Schellenberg said. “If you are concerned for your student or if you need support, we encourage you to contact our guidance counselors at 425-431-5663 for assistance.”

In addition to the guidance counselors who already work at MTHS, additional ESD counselors were available at the school on Friday, June 8 to talk with students about their reactions to the threats and guide them through the stress that they may be going through.

In continuing with the administration’s policy of operating with an abundance of caution concerning threats to the safety of the school, a decision was made by MTHS and the ESD to maintain the presence of MLTPD police officers on campus during instructional hours for the remainder of the school year.

“We are continuing to do everything we can to make sure the students and staff remain safe,” Schellenberg said.

In an email to students after school on Thursday, Schellenberg attempted to promote the unity of students on campus and urged them to not forget to continue to foster a thriving community on campus.

“Earlier this week, MTHS experienced a tremendous multicultural assembly – a genuine unifying experience,” Schellenberg said. “That sense of coming together is strong and real, too… All of us in the community need to pull together and be supportive… as we finish the 2017-2018 school year.”

The MTHS and ESD administration held a community forum at 6:00 p.m. on Friday to deal with the concerns of families relating to the threats during the week. One of the major issues at the forum was MTHS families feeling left out of communications relating to the threats and the lockdown, as they did not receive the emails and robocalls sent out by the ESD.

At the forum, Assistant Superintendent Greg Schwab said that the ESD was looking to improve communication systems with families, including looking at potential app-based communications.

“These programs that you can put on your smartphone and you can sign people up for it, and they can get almost instant communication,” Schwab said.

In 2014, a bond was passed by voters within the ESD for $4.3 million, which was meant to go towards enhancing school security measures trough measures such as installing cameras and access controls. The ESD is looking at using bond money to further improve school district safety measures and emergency communication systems.

The threat which directly triggered the 11:14 a.m. lockdown was traced by police to a former Washington state high school student currently living in California. An investigation is still underway to determine the student(s) responsible for the on-campus graffiti threats.

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About the Contributors
Nolan DeGarlais
Nolan DeGarlais, Editor-in-Chief
Editor-in-Chief Nolan DeGarlais is in his senior year of high school and is a fourth-year staff member of the Hawkeye. This year, Nolan hopes to lead the Hawkeye in coverage of all of the events that have the potential to impact the school community. Nolan also hopes to further develop the Hawkeye as an editor and a leader by helping other staff members to be successful in all aspects of journalism, including writing, graphics, photography and design. Under his leadership, Nolan hopes that the Hawkeye will continue to shine as one of the top student publications in the state and nation. In his free time, he enjoys reading, hiking, watching movies and spending time with friends.
Jacob Allard
Jacob Allard, Photo Co-Editor
Senior Jacob Allard, is a third year staff member at the Hawkeye with a knack for photography, and has interests in pursuing it as a career in the future. He is well rounded in photography, taking different types of photos including sports, news, portrait and others. Allard has goals to diversify Hawkeye’s profit opportunities within the organization by setting up their CloudSpot account.
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