Security lockdown disrupts classes, Homecoming events

Danny Biniecki, The Mentor Managing Editor

A normal Friday of classes and Homecoming events was interrupted just before the start of the pep rally with an announcement that placed the school in lockdown to allow investigation of a possible safety threat.

“This is Manhattan High’s Principal, Michael Dorst. We are going into lockdown. This is not a drill.”

Students and teachers in classrooms went into lockdown mode, using years of training. The lockdown continued for nearly two hours while the situation was investigated and the school executed a controlled release of students to end the day. 

The investigation followed several reports of a vandalism incident that was shared via social media with threatening language. 

“Late Friday morning there was a post that someone made of vandalism in the Rezac boys bathroom,” Dorst said. “In viewing the post there was no worry, it was more of a shock.”

As afternoon came things started to change as people became aware of the vandalism. The rumor spread and expanded, and administration had no idea if the enhanced rumor was true or not. 

“We were quickly releasing mass students to North Gym and at that time we couldn’t determine if it was safe to be released to the Pep Rally and the number of threats were growing by the minute,” Dorst said. “We couldn’t say MHS was safe.”

Some of the threats being made were directed towards the Pep Rally that Tribe was putting on for students.

“It makes us feel bad when people make threats because we put so much time and effort into planning it,” Tribe member McKenzie Thurston, senior, said. “We had to fight to be able to even have one during school.”

Every student had their own experience, some thought it was funny and some were terrified like senior Xavier Campbell who was alone during the whole experience.

“It’s horrifying,” Campbell said. “I was hiding in a dark closet and being there and not knowing, sure it was just a threat but it could’ve quickly turned into an attack so just sitting there wondering when is…”

Campbell, who had returned to an empty classroom on an errand, was stuck in the closet in a teacher’s room for the duration of the lockdown until students were able to be dismissed and teachers able to return to their classrooms from the failed Pep Rally.

“I had no teacher to tell me what to do,” Campbell said. “You have no one, if something were to happen I would be my own line of self-defense.”

When asked about the threat each student interviewed said the same thing.

“A shooting threat,” junior Jennifer Kim said.

Each student had their own fears about what was going on and their own perspective of fear relating to the situation. 

“When I was in the closet I was hearing banging and I didn’t know if it was a door or a weapon,” Campbell said.

“I thought the threat wasn’t a joke and someone was actually planning on shooting up the Pep Rally,” Thurston said.

Since the lockdown has disturbed many staff and students Dorst and the MHS administration has resources in place for those individuals.

“There will be support plans,” Dorst said. “I’ve asked [social worker] Kari Humes and other mental health liaisons to be here at MHS to help staff and students.”

Dorst also plans to reschedule the Pep Rally working with Tribe, so students and staff are finally able to have some fun at the event.
“We absolutely need a Pep Rally,” Dorst said. 

Dorst felt that the years of safety training did what it’s supposed to and that everyone who responded worked together

“I want to thank our Riley County Police Department, students and staff,” Dorst said. “If someone has something to say I want them to report it, the core of what went right was students reporting to keep our school safe.”

If students or staff are feeling disturbed, having troubles because of the fear of a lockdown, or just feeling a little uneasy please talk to Humes or any available support system.