LISBON - A bomb threat resulted in the evacuation of Beaver Local High School early Friday afternoon. Following a sweep of the school by authorities, no device was found, and classes resumed quickly afterward.
Faculty, staff and upperclassmen could be forgiven for feeling a sense of deja vu, as the incident was a near-copy of one that occurred in November 2012. As with that incident, the message was discovered by a student on the inside of a boys bathroom stall at approximately noon.
"It was a bomb threat in writing," according to Superintendent Kent Polen. "It said, 'Bomb 1:00.'"
The student who discovered the message reported it to a school secretary, who in turn notified Assistant Principal Jayson Yeagley. The district's emergency plan, well-remembered from 2012, was followed. "We notified the sheriff and West Point Fire Department, and they proceeded to come out to the school," Polen said.
At the same time, students were evacuated from the building to the football field adjacent to the school. After all were accounted for, they were sent to the middle school across state Route 7, where traffic was briefly halted in both directions by sheriff's deputies so students could cross the busy road in safety.
After the students and staff were out of the building, deputies and firefighters conducted a search of the school that included all classrooms, storage rooms, rest rooms, and all lockers, which had the locks cut off and were opened. Nothing was found, and students and faculty returned to the building by 1:20 p.m. to resume the school day.
Although an EMS unit from NorthStar Ambulance was also dispatched to the school at this time, it was merely a case of coincidence, according to Polen. "There was a student who had a medical condition not related to this," he said. There were no injuries associated with the bomb scare incident, and EMTs assisted sheriff and fire personnel at the scene.
Polen commended the sheriff's deputies and West Point firefighters for performing a thorough yet swift inspection of the building, allowing students to return to class in a timely manner. "They did a great job," he said, "Swept the building very quickly, and made sure it was safe for students."
Despite the previous cases of bomb threats at BLHS and other schools in the county that turned out to be false, Polen says whenever they occur, each one must be considered serious until proven otherwise. "Whenever something like this happens, we take it very seriously."
When asked about possible suspects or motives, Polen said he could not comment due to the open investigation. He also declined to state what action was taken against the student who was responsible for the 2012 bomb threat. "We do have guidelines that we follow, but we take each case on an individual basis," he said.
County Sheriff Ray Stone, through a press release, offered no further information other than to state that an investigation into the incident was underway.