South Receives Gun Threat via Social Media

Graphic by Melanie Egan

Simone Lassar
News Reporter

On Dec. 12, 2016 at approximately 10:00 p.m information in the Class of 2017 Facebook group alerted the students of a threat issued on an app called “After School”. The threat read, “coming to South loaded tomorrow.”

Soon after the news was posted in the Class of 2017 group, it spread to the other class pages, thanks to the fast action of seniors like 2017 class officer Jaehun Lee, who felt it was his duty to spread the information to the other classes.

“It would probably be more accurate to say that I acted as a student of South, rather than just a class officer, and our whole grade felt like it was our duty to let the other grades know about this. So once we had enough info about the situation, we posted about what to do,” Lee said.

Even with this threat, junior Daniel Silverston attended school today, and reports that the dynamic was very much the same as a normal day.

“A couple people were absent, and I had a few discussion about the threats, but I felt just as safe as I normally feel at South,” Silverston said.

One observed difference was the increased presence of police and vigilance by the Newton Police Department and Newton Public Schools.

Principal Joel Stembridge sent out an email this morning reassuring families and students of the safety at South and aimed to encourage attendance at school despite the sense of nervousness.

Stembridge ended his email by reminding everyone to be careful of the snow and come to school, “we look forward to seeing everyone in class this morning,” Stembridge wrote.

Lee was dissatisfied with Stembridge casually dismissing the issue at hand. While Lee admired the reaction South took, he believed the last line of Stembridge email implies that the threat remains illegitimate.

Disagreeing with Lee, Silverstone says on this matter that it is unnecessary for the administration to let these instances interfere with education.

“Cancelling school after an anonymous threat like that is a very slippery slope, as students could use an anonymous empty threat to their advantage, so I’m very satisfied with Mr. Stembridge handling of the situation,” Silverston said.

While students like Lee and Silverston continue to hold different opinions of the correct way to handle dangerous threats, it remains clear that instances like these are alarming and eye opening to the South community.

The investigation into the threat is assumed to remain ongoing as the Newton Police Department or Newton Public Schools have yet to release an official statement declaring the conclusion of this investigation.