By Rianna Russell ’18 and Ashlee Basant ’18
A phoned-in bomb threat forced a rapid evacuation on February 28. This threat was among three others that endangered New York City schools.
According to CBS, “Over the past 24 hours, anonymous calls have been made targeting schools, community centers, and even a subway.”
The evacuation commenced during the fifth period. Students knew that this was no drill when they arrived outside because there were numerous police cars outside of the school building blocking off the street exits.
Mr. Michael McDonnell said, “The staff and students handled the threat remarkably. We evacuated the building in nine minutes. That’s amazing when you consider that we have four thousand students and 250 adults.”
“When we got out of the school, I saw police cars everywhere, and teachers kept telling us to move further away from the school,” said Josephine Leung ’18. “It wasn’t until I spoke to Mr. Brian Molter that I realized there was a potential bomb in the school.”
Many teachers were unaware of the situation, but their job was to get all of their students out of the building as quickly and safely as possible.
“There was a different tone to the evacuation announcement and the instructions were different,” said Mr. Joseph Peters. “I was just focused on getting my class out of the building as efficiently as possible.”
According to Mr.Peters, the announcer specifically called for all staff members, and students to partake in the evacuation. This seemed odd to him because that has never been asked during a drill.
Ms. Jennifer Roman, a dean and teacher, said, “I was confident that we weren’t in danger, and I’m glad that the instructions that we followed made everyone safe.” According to Ms. Roman, Mr. Franzese was in charge of the operation to evacuate and place the students at Brooklyn College. Not only was he the main staff member who helped, but the police made sure before the evacuation to check the perimeter of the school to see if there was anything related to the bomb.
Students also described the sudden evacuation as alarming and strange.
“The mass evacuation of the school to Brooklyn College told me that this was far more than a regular fire drill,” said Henry Mei ’18. “Overall, I felt a sense of uncertainty due to the lack of instruction and awareness of the situation.”
Students were told to keep moving towards Brooklyn College. It is the designated area to go to during an evacuation because of its proximity. Also, students were instructed to go to the tennis courts because it kept most of the students in one enclosed area.
However, many were confused as to why they were only allowed to stay in one spot for over an hour. Biondina Voca ’18 wondered why only some students were let into the courts, but they were unable to leave. Many security guards prevented students from leaving the tennis courts as well as the campus itself.
While students were kept on the Brooklyn College campus, there were many helicopters that circulated the area. According to some students, the helicopters made the situation even more hectic because it was being documented and shown on the news.
While evacuating the building, some students heard rumors about a fire or a gas leak. However, as time passed, most students found out that the school did indeed receive a bomb threat because it was shown on several news websites.
The time it took for everyone to get out of the building during the evacuation was outstanding according to Mr. Jason Richardson.
“Overall, I thought it went well for a school of 4,200 plus students and a couple hundred of teachers,” said Mr. Richardson. “The students were well behaved, and the faculty and deans were amazing in maintaining order.”
Though the evacuation turned out to be a false alarm, it proved to be an effective way for the deans to find better and faster ways to go about the evacuation.
“We had a couple of meetings after the bomb threat to talk about how things went and what we would do to improve it,” said Mr.Richardson.
Amina Tariq ’18 said, this bomb threat raised awareness for future emergencies..
Many students never experienced a situation like this one before. Some stated they were quite nervous at first, but the evacuation as a whole was swift especially since all students and staff member fully cooperated.
Michelle Mei ’18, Aundre Williams ’18, Rachel Goryachkovskiy ’18, and Zumen Javed ’18 contributed to this article.