Threats Paralyze Student Body as Multiple Incidents Have Community Questioning School Safety

Gabby Ahitow, Editorial Director, Sophomore

The week of Halloween is traditionally filled with horror. Sadly, that week for students was filled with fear. On Saturday, October 30, a student posted Snapchat stories with a cipher and a message saying “Time to f*** up Pelham.” The school reported the posts to the Pelham Police, who investigated and reported back to the school after finding no threat. Around that same time, another student sent out photos of themselves holding a gun. This situation too was reported to the police and they handled it privately. On Halloween night, high school students were jumped, one allegedly hit with the butt of a weapon. Finally, a rumor spread about an alleged Japanese anime book with what appeared to be a written “kill list” by a student.

Gossip began to spread on Monday, escalating into whispers of a potential school shooting. Students spread word of a specific time and place this incident was to happen. As seventh period, the time of the “shooting,” loomed closer, students texted their parents, who in turn tried to reach the school looking for answers. …..

At 12:34, Superintendent Dr. Cheryl Champ sent an email to parents, and five minutes later to the students, stating “We want to assure you that the PMHS administration has been working closely with Pelham Police and are confident that students are safe at this time.” At the same time, Principal Mark Berkowitz made an announcement on the P.A. system saying there was no immediate threat to the student body.

As rumors continued to circulate, panic mounted, causing students to exit the building on the grounds of feeling unsage. Parents voiced their concerns on social media. The school sent 2 more emails regarding the event, one late Monday and one Monday evening.

After school on Monday, Berkowitz held an optional faculty meeting addressing the events. This was the first time teachers were formally told of the situation.

Tuesday, a community-wide Google Meet was held for parents and students. Wednesday, Berkowitz spoke to each grade in separate assemblies. Thursday, Champ held a meeting after school with students. On Friday, Berkowitz held another meeting for students. After eight meetings in five days, many still have questions. The district is taking action. In a November 5 email, Principal Berkowitz wrote to parents/guardians asking that they provide student cell phone numbers “so that the high school/district can deliver timely messages to students when needed.” He further went on to say, “this system may be used to alert students of situations occurring at the school and will be particularly helpful when students are off campus.