Bomb threat at high school
November 24, 2008 · Updated 3:52 PM
Classes cancelled Tuesday as search conducted
Mercer Island Reporter
Mercer Island High School was shut down for the day on Tuesday, Feb. 26, due to a call-in bomb scare. Shortly after classes started at 8 a.m., an anonymous person called the main high school phone line and said that a bomb had been set to go off in the school later that day. Administrators immediately called the police and evacuated the school, according to procedure, sending students and staff to the high school stadium.
An hour later, after the Washington State Patrol bomb squad arrived at the school to search the buildings with its dogs, administrators decided to cancel all classes for the day. The bomb search was still being conducted while the Reporter went to press, and no official news had been released.
“A typical bomb search can take anywhere from one to two hours,” said Mercer Island Police Officer Jennifer Franklin, present at the evacuation. “Hopefully this one will be quicker.”
The officer added that the students and staff were staying calm and in good spirits about the scare.
“Everything has gone very smoothly. They are all used to lock-downs and know what to do,” she said. “We’re hoping this will be a non-event.”
All Mercer Island School District students and faculty practice mandatory evacuation and lock-down drills once a month. Yesterday’s evacuation was the first non-drill at the high school in years. Yet the mood was one of ease: Clusters of students huddled together on the football field, laughing and talking with friends. A group of boys started up an impromptu game of soccer, while more studious Islanders found a quiet corner to finish their homework. Nobody, it appeared, seemed anxious about the threat.
“I saw police outside the school when I arrived and knew at once that something was wrong,” said French teacher Eileen Twitchell. “Everybody is staying calm and knows the drill.”
Yet she emphasized that, despite the likelihood that the call was a hoax, the serious nature of the issue should not be overlooked.
“Because of recent events, this isn’t something anyone wants to joke about,” Twitchell said.
The bomb squad did not find anything and left the school at noon, according to Officer Franklin.
The Reporter will post updates as more information is made available.