Threat leads to student searches, LRMS stays in session

By Wayne E. Rivet

Staff Writer

When a written threat appeared on a Lake Region Middle School bathroom wall, officials proceeded in a different direction.

Rather than close the school Monday, Principal Matt Lokken and his staff used the situation as a teaching moment.

An electronic notice was sent to parents last week notifying them that the threat indicated a student planned to bring a weapon to school on Monday.

“To ensure the safety of students and staff, administration contacted the superintendent’s office and Cumberland County Sheriff’s Department to determine the appropriate course of action to address the threat,” the message said. “That response will include the presence of law enforcement at the middle school Monday morning when students arrive, and all students will be searched by administration to ensure that no weapons are present on school grounds prior to the start of classes for the day.”

The message continued, “While the impact to learning this process will create is regrettable, it is also necessary to be sure the threat was without merit and the school is a safe place for that learning to occur.”

As students arrived to LRMS, they were instructed to go to the gymnasium. There, all backpacks and coats were checked. Principal Lokken used the moment to talk to students about the serious consequences that go with making threats, as well stressing the importance of toleration of others. No weapons or illegal contraband were found during the search.

“It was business as usual, after that,” Principal Lokken said. “We also received some positive feedback from parents regarding how we handled the situation.”

Some parents, however, may have kept their children home while officials addressed the threat. Lokken said there were 115 students absent Monday. LRMS has a student population of about 450.

While bullying remains a major problem across the country with too many young lives ending via suicide, Lokken said LRMS routinely addresses the issue through a variety of awareness programming. One includes a visit by the Cromwell Center, which works with sixth graders on peer relationships and the importance of accepting those with “differences.” Lokken added that Health instructor Steve Mercer also spends time on the issue, while the subject is also broached during advisory periods.

LRMS was closed after the Thanksgiving break due to a perceived threat. Law enforcement investigated the matter, and a student was subsequently expelled.

Please follow and like us: