PCHS closed due to threats and fight forces lockdown

Ponoka Composite High School had two situations involving the RCMP last week. On June 6 the school received generic threats against the school. RCMP reported that the threats arose from the fight that occurred at the school on June 4. At the time a joint decision was made between the Wolf Creek Public School Board and the Ponoka Detachment of the RCMP to close the school and send the students home.

  • Jun. 11, 2008 9:00 a.m.

By Tiffany Williams

Editor

Ponoka Composite High School had two situations involving the RCMP last week. On June 6 the school received generic threats against the school. RCMP reported that the threats arose from the fight that occurred at the school on June 4. At the time a joint decision was made between the Wolf Creek Public School Board and the Ponoka Detachment of the RCMP to close the school and send the students home. The RCMP continued to investigate the threats over the weekend and on Monday the school was deemed safe to re-open.

Larry Jacobs, superintendent of schools for the board said on Monday that the school is safe and as a precautionary measure they have relocated their school resource officer to PCHS for the rest of the school year because his other activities at Ponoka Elementary School and Diamond Willow Middle School have finished for the year.

“The RCMP did not tell me the nature of what they were looking for or nature of the threats. However, they were satisfied and comfortable with the fact that the school could re-open,” said Jacobs. “The learning environment at the school is safe and it is precautionary to have an extra RCMP officer at the school to make sure nothing else happens.”

Jacobs says that the threats came in via phone calls to the RCMP. He does not know exactly what time the threats came in at but he was in consultation with the RCMP between 1 and 4 a.m. on June 6.

Jacobs says that at 8 a.m. when the busses arrived at the school they were turned around and sent home. Also, staff informed any student that walked to school or were dropped off that the school was closed for the day.

On June 4, RCMP responded to a eight person fight at PCHS at 12:30 p.m. The eight people involved were students and non-students who were arrested for various offences.

According to PCHS principal Ian Rawlinson the fight occurred at the back of the school near the Ponoka General Hospital entrance and near the hallway on a path that leads to the hospital.

Rawlinson says that himself and four or five teachers were involved when the fight broke out and one staff member who was trying to breakup the fight was taken to hospital. The move was precautionary and the teacher is doing fine.

The RCMP received information that one of the persons in the fight had produced a knife and fled the area. The school was placed in lock down as a precautionary measure and a search of the school was done by the RCMP to make sure that the school was safe.

Rawlinson says that lock downs are practiced in the Wolf Creek School Board and it was done at the request of the RCMP. It was a controlled lock down and students worked quietly and they continued class but they were unable to leave the room. Some teachers went to a different level of lock down where the students were told to work in a corner or work behind something as per standard lock down procedure.

“In a lock down like this the intent is to get students out of the hallways and taken care of. We grab the students in the hall and they are pulled in the classrooms,” said Rawlinson. “They wanted to make sure that the people who don’t go to school were not in the school. That the only kids that where in the school were those who were should be there because the people who came and started the nonsense were not students of ours.”

He thinks that the lock down was 100 per cent successful and that the RCMP responded very quickly to the situation.

“They helped track down the kids immediately after. They called in extra members to search the building and get the kids back to normal. They did a full sweep in 30 minutes. They were incredible and the lock down was exceptional.”

Rawlinson says that Ponoka Victim Services were at the school on June 5, other counseling services were made available and a letter was sent home to parents to explain what happened.

“It is easy to focus on the negative but we need to understand that these were not students from our school and they should have never been here and they should have never instigated the incident.”

The investigation is continuing and charges are pending. No names will be released as all involved are young offenders.