Helping out in time of emergency

At 10:45 a.m., students and teachers in their fourth hour classroom at Francis Howell North were told to evacuate the building. The students were sent to the football stadium, where they were told that a bomb threat had been made.

“My first thought after hearing about the threat was how we can keep our students safe,” FHN Assistant Principal Katie Greer said.

The district office made the decision to evacuate FHN’s campus due to student safety according to Dr. Greer. In the safety alert update sent to parents from FHN Associate Principal Jack Ameis, he restated that “bomb threats are taken very seriously and represent a potential danger to the safety and welfare of students and staff.”

Students had just been involved in a fire drill during third hour, so there was some confusion when the evacuation was first announced.

“I was alarmed and confused at first,” sophomore Tiffany Willenbrock said. “It felt like another drill.”

After leaving FHN’s stadium, the students and faculty were bussed to FHC. According to Principal Dr. Sonny Arnel, the sister school called and said there was an emergency and that students would be sent to FHC.

“I had a quick meeting with the other principals and counselors,” Dr. Arnel said. “I was told that students were being sent here and that we would have to house and feed them.”

Once at FHC, students stayed in the football stadium, and students who had not yet eaten lunch were given the opportunity to eat in the cafeteria. Many students, including Willenbrock, called parents or guardians to pick them up from FHC.

“I called my mom, and she realized that there’s no reason for me to stay here since we’re not finishing the school day, so she’s picking me up,” Willenbrock said.

At 1:05 p.m., the process to return students to FHN began. Students and faculty alike were loaded back onto busses and regular dismissal procedures were followed.

“It caused a lot of headaches and hassle,” Mr. Aaron Manfull, a teacher at FHN, said.

According to Mr. Manfull, the process was handled the best it could have been given the situation.

“When dealing with 1,800 students and faculty on top of that, it’s always going to be chaotic,” Mr. Manfull said.

FHC principals and counselors helped FHN deal with the mass of students and parents at the school. This meant fewer principals were available for FHC’s own students.

“It makes me very proud that our kids and staff are so incredible that we can use our principals to help another school,” Dr. Arnel said.

Dr. Greer agrees that FHC was helpful and cooperative in the ordeal. Everyone did what they needed to do for the situation.

“FHC has been great welcoming us here,” said Dr. Greer.