By Jake Peter
On Tuesday November 17, an apparently threatening message scrawled on a sidewalk with pieces of pine mulch was found outside Charlotte Catholic. It said “We will attack at noon.”
Although the cryptic threat could have been ignored, Catholic’s administration wasn’t taking any chances. They immediately took action by calling in the police to examine the message and remain on campus for the day to make sure nothing happened.
The administration quickly decided there was no real threat, and the students were safe. To ensure that everyone would be informed of the occurrence, Mr. Telford emailed the parents and students, detailing the morning’s events. He said, “I didn’t put a lot of credence into what was written,” but simply sent the email to describe what happened. He also added, “I think that if it was a credible threat, we would have dismissed the students, been on lockdown, or have all the entryways blocked off by the police.”
However, that email had the opposite effect of what Mr. Telford intended. Instead of reassuring Catholic’s population of its safety, some parents were concerned and many students got excited over the prospect of an early dismissal. The parents wanted to know if their children were safe, and the kids were pleading to leave school for all the wrong reasons.
Slowly, students began to get picked up or drove home at break. Then, following an announcement over the P.A. system that was nearly inaudible due to the commotion in the halls, kids began to leave en masse. Parents wanted them to be safe at home just in case someone actually attacked the school, and the kids were all too happy to oblige. When asked if it was necessary to dismiss the student body, Mr. Telford responded, “Absolutely not. However, in light of what happened in Paris, we honored their concern for safety.”
By the beginning of D period, classes were already missing a significant number of students. The next hour was somewhat chaotic, with students’ names being called over the loudspeaker to indicate that they were free to go. The school required that parents had to contact the school to have their child officially dismissed, and that process took some time to complete.
Eventually, by noon, the supposed time of the attack, all but 40 or 50 students had left. Those who had remained were eventually sent home too, but not until the had waited for hours, in the library without their classmates present.
Later on Tuesday, after school would have normally let out, a story regarding the mulch message appeared on WCNC news. It turns out that the culprits were actually young children who had been playing with the mulch and intended no mischief in creating the message.
However, with all the stories around the country and even the world about such attacks in schools, churches, sporting events, and other public places, Charlotte Catholic was right to err on the side of caution.