The Student News Site of Academy of Holy Angels

The Blue & Gold

The Student News Site of Academy of Holy Angels

The Blue & Gold

The Student News Site of Academy of Holy Angels

The Blue & Gold

The basketball teams from Indiana University - Bloomington and University of Nebraska - Lincoln playing each other in the quarterfinal round of the 2024 Big Ten Tournament at Target Center on March 15th. The University of Nebraska - Lincoln won 93 - 66.
Photo of the Week
March 19, 2024
The cast of The Hunchback of Notre Dame finishing rehearsal. They are preparing for opening night on April 13th.
Photo of the Week
March 12, 2024

An Unforeseen Emergency

When Holy Angels students woke up on the morning of January 18, 2022, they expected a normal Tuesday morning at school, getting through classes and talking with friends. Instead, they were greeted with an announcement from Principal Foley: “Due to an unforeseen emergency, school is canceled today.” The message urged students to leave the school immediately. Concerned and confused students rushed to leave, with those waiting for rides or buses heading to the Southwest Dome. A puzzled myriad of students gathered outside the front doors, while juniors huddled in the Blessed Trinity parking lot. Students continued to arrive at school in the midst of the chaos. Junior Reagan Loichle said, “I pulled up to school and saw a crowd of people where I park. I had gotten about five calls from people telling me to not show up. I asked what was happening and everyone yelled that school was canceled due to an unforeseen emergency.” Students shared concerns, joys for their free day, and theories on what might have been the “unforeseen emergency.” Inside the school, however, joys were few and far between.

Just before 7 a.m. Tuesday morning, Mrs. Sackmaster checked the voicemail inbox on the school attendance line and listened to a threatening message that had been left overnight. The message “indicated that something may happen here at school,” said Mr. Melhorn. “[Mrs. Foley and I] received the message and got in touch with the Richfield Police Department. After listening to what was left, and thinking about how we should respond, we decided to cancel school for the safety of the students and staff.” The administration was unable to disclose the contents of the message or a description of the caller due to the ongoing police investigation. However, the decision to call the police was made almost immediately after hearing the message. After conferring with the police on the best course of action, the administration decided to cancel school for the day. On the topic of the police response to the threat, Mr. Melhorn went on to say, “The biggest action that the police took in supporting us was, once we decided to cancel school, to get a hold of local agencies with K9 units . . . the other was to work with us to deliver a message about what was happening, what was going on.”

Meanwhile, rumors continued to circulate. Some speculated about a problem with one of the domes, while others believed a gas leak was at fault. Others still delved deeper into conspiracy, with comments on a death in the building or a similar circumstance. Many students and families received concerned messages from friends and relatives that had heard of the incident.

This is not the first instance of a threat at the school. According to Mr. Sawyer, the longest-tenured member on the staff, Holy Angels experienced another threat in 2006. At that time, students were evacuated over to the Blessed Trinity parking lot. Mr. Sawyer remarked, “That was in the early days of cell phone communication . . . [when kids] used their cell phones, the police in the building, their signals were all scrambled.” As a result of events such as this, the school has multiple contingency plans “for a number of security issues that may arise,” says Mr. Melhorn. “In the case of something like [a bomb threat], we do have something already in place. Who is involved, who is communicated with, who ultimately makes the decision.”

Both teachers and administration were highly complementary of each other’s response to the threat. Mr. Sawyer commended the administration, saying, “One thing I’m always impressed with is the leadership in this building. This administration is fantastic. The decisions were made right and quick and the handling of it was superb . . . you realize that your bosses are in the building with the police and the dogs while you’re out there safe.” Mr. Melhorn was equally complimentary, stating, “I can say on behalf of the administration that the teachers were phenomenal. Once they received information they stepped right up to help.”

Throughout the struggle and confusion of January 18, students, teachers, administration, and the community united to push through and ensure the safety of all. Although there were moments of stress and doubt, by the next day, with the building secure, our school community was able to come together in our normal setting once again.

Timeline

7:00 a.m. – Mrs. Sackmaster first hears the message entailing the threat to the school.

7:05–10 a.m. – Police are called

7:25–35 a.m. – Police arrive; decision is made for school to be cancelled.

7:44 a.m. – Principal Foley makes the following announcement over the loudspeaker: “May I have your attention, please. Due to an unforeseen emergency, school is canceled today. Those waiting for a parent or a bus should go to the Southwest Dome immediately.”

8:08 a.m. – The school sends a message out to parents informing them of the “unforeseen emergency” and the cancellation of school.

9:00 a.m. – Teachers are told to go home for the day. (Teachers knew almost as much as students on the day of the event.)

12:17 p.m. – Holy Angels sends messages out to parents explaining the situation at school. The messages outlined the threat to the school and Holy Angels’ response. In addition, they stated that the Academy of the Holy Angels in Demarest, New Jersey, had received a similar threat. (There turned out to be no connection involved.)

12:19 p.m. – Students receive the email sent to parents.

8:25 a.m. Wednesday – Mr. Shipley makes an announcement thanking everyone for their response to Tuesday’s events and reassuring them that the school is safe.

Student Reactions

“I pulled up to school and saw a crowd of people where I park. I had gotten about five calls from people telling me to not show up. I asked what was happening and everyone yelled that school was canceled due to an unforeseen emergency. People stood there waiting for teachers to tell them what to do.” – Reagan Loichle ‘23

“I walked into school and [a friend] came speed-walking towards me. I said ‘What’s wrong?’ and he said ‘We need to get out,’ so I walked outside and stood with half the junior class in the parking lot for like ten minutes waiting to see [what would happen].” – Lillie Stotts ‘23

“When Mrs. Foley made the announcement over the speakers, I was in Ms. Miles’s room with the new sub and honestly, we both did not know how to react. It was kind of a surreal moment as we both did not know what was going on, but you could feel a sense of panic among the students and staff.” – Abbie Leidig ‘22

“I was in Mrs. Poshusta’s room. We were both very confused and surprised as we had no clue what was going on.” – Finn Sheeley ‘25

“I saw Mrs. Foley walk in with a cop, so I figured something was up. When I heard the announcement, I freaked out and called my sister right away.” – Isandro Gonzalez ‘24

Teacher Reactions

“I knew that it was serious because of the tone of voice of Principal Foley. My initial reaction was to evacuate quickly and calmly, but to also grab my car keys. After that, our goal was to [get students out] as quickly and orderly as possible.” – Mr. Wright

“I thought that it was serious and that we needed to evacuate immediately.” – Sra. Grabow

What did you do with your free day?

“I sat at the DMV for two hours.” – Ms. Stone

“I drove my friends home and watched High School Musical all day.” – Ellory Snook ‘23

“I went to get coffee with a friend.” – Vivian Glennie ‘23

More to Discover