Northwood was under lockdown yesterday morning from approximately 7:45 a.m. to 9:15 a.m. The lockdown was enacted after a teacher heard what sounded like a gunshot coming from between the math and language pods.
“While we probably thought it was someone outside hunting in the morning, we have 1,500 people or so, and we don’t take those kinds of chances, so we went into lockdown,” principal Justin Bartholomew said.
While various rumors concerning the source of the gunshot spread, it has been confirmed that they were the result of a hunter firing in nearby woods.
“It was just a hunter,” Bartholomew said. “They found a gentleman, and he bagged the deer. I think when he started hearing the sirens, he probably realized…. They weren’t necessarily right next to the school, but with the fog, it could’ve been a thousand feet away. The sound was just going to travel.”
According to photography and art teacher Meagan Shirlen, law enforcement responded as promptly as possible.
“It seemed like the response was immediate,” Shirlen said. “There were many, many, many police officers on the scene very quickly.”
Bartholomew also expressed this sentiment.
“The police response was very fast,” Bartholomew said. “Deputy Timmons immediately went [to] where the sound was, and Deputy Campbell was with him, and then everyone else started showing up. Within just a couple of minutes, the first cars showed up.”
Junior Grace Lake was one of many students taken by surprise when the lockdown commenced.
“I was really scared,” Lake said. “I just didn’t know what was happening. A cop came in and told us they were handling the situation, so I felt better, but then I was just hearing so many things that it was just really confusing, because no one knew what was going on.”
Social studies teacher Skip Thibault heard the announcement of the lockdown over the intercom in his classroom. During the lockdown, Thibault had about 20 students in his room.
“We have drills, but we also know that we would never have a drill at quarter to eight in the morning,” Thibault said. “I heard it over the intercom…. I went back out into the hall and there were kids just hanging. You know how it is in the halls; you can’t really hear it, and if you could, you don’t really pay attention. So I just started screaming, and I had this student in my class tell me, ‘Mr. Thibault, I had no idea what was going on until I heard you screaming.’ So I just went out and started yelling at kids to get into a room.”
Thibault said that his group of students handled the situation well.
“I congratulated the kids who were in here,” Thibault said. “When it was over, I just said, ‘I just wanted to thank you all for being so brave and doing exactly what you were told.’ I was getting kind of emotional about it…. I was really impressed with the kids, but I’ve got to tell you, I was nervous. I was shaken.”
However, according to junior Micaiah Yoak, who sought safety in the lunchroom, not all students took the situation seriously.
“They took us behind the lunch lines into where the snack room is,” Yoak said. “I was really upset because a lot of people weren’t taking it seriously, but I was really scared…. People were opening boxes and stealing the food out of them.”
Senior Kaelyn Oakes’ main concern was the safety of her younger sister, freshman Abby Oakes.
“[I was] just a little bit worried because my younger sister was a little bit freaked out about it, and I didn’t want her to feel freaked out,” Oakes said. “School should be a place where we feel safe, and I didn’t, so it made me a little upset.”
Despite this, Oakes was pleased with the school’s response to the situation.
“Overall, I think that they did handle it the way they should have,” Oakes said. “Although some people are frustrated because they took a lot of precautions, at least they tried to get it under control and were worried about the safety of the students. They didn’t just play it off as a harmless thing.”
– By Sara Heilman