Student safety in jeopardy due to bomb threat


Halsey Smith

Police cars parked just outside the front of the high school.

Less than one month after the school-wide lockdown in September, East Grand Rapids High School received a second safety threat on Oct. 29.

Monday morning, Administrative Assistant Nancy Scott reported receiving a voicemail threatening of a bomb in the school. Immediately after receiving the message, administration evacuated the high school at approximately 7:35 a.m.

Shortly after, East Grand Rapids Public Schools informed students, parents and staff that they had received the threat, and the Grand Rapids Police Department began searching the site with their K-9 team. Later that morning, EGRPS announced that classes at the high school were cancelled for the day.

According to Vice Principal Steve Wojciechowski, GRPD and other investigators have not released any further information to the school.

The way kids panicked due to teachers and adults panicking made it more traumatizing than necessary.”

— Kate MacKeigan

“We probably won’t [hear anything] for the time-being as it is an ongoing investigation,” Wojciechowski said. “There is no set timeline from the police.”

The building was cleared of any threat later that day, and after school activities resumed as scheduled.

“Everybody responded awesomely,” Wojciechowski said. “Students, when they were told to leave, they left. There was a little bit of concern, which was rightfully so. The staff got everybody out of the building, and I thought everything went smoothly.”

At the time of the evacuation, teachers were unaware of the threat.

“I just was trying to make sure that any students I could see were headed toward the door, and then I headed toward the door myself,” English teacher Sara Edleman said. “Once the building was cleared of students, teachers were asked to reconvene at Wealthy Elementary School.” This meeting lasted approximately 15 minutes, and then teachers and staff were sent home as well.

The safety concerns were resolved quickly throughout the day, however the emotional aftermath of the bomb threat has had lasting effects. Due to the nature of the evacuation, many students were still distraught after leaving school.

“Walking up to the school at 7:37 with dozens of kids screaming, ‘Run! Go home!’ will forever be a traumatizing experience,” Kate MacKeigan ‘19 said. “The school handled it the best they could, however the way kids panicked due to teachers and adults panicking made it more traumatizing than necessary.”

Both Grand Rapids Christian High School and Union High School received similar threats; however it is not yet known if the three occurrences are connected. This threat is the first of its nature in the careers of many teachers at EGR.

“I’ve been in partial lockdowns before, and I worked in a building where there was a bomb threat,” Edleman said. “But this was the first time that I actually felt fearful for student’s safety.”

School safety is a growing concern in the United States, and East Grand Rapids High School is part of the discussion.

“I think every child in America has doubts of safety in their schools,” MacKeigan said. “EGR did a great job to get the situation cleared in a few hours, but hopefully next time we can catch it earlier.”