Bomb threat disrupts DHS community

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Bomb threat disrupts DHS community

Dogs were brought into certain classes as part of the search by local law enforcement.

Dogs were brought into certain classes as part of the search by local law enforcement.

Freshman Kaitlin Silva

Dogs were brought into certain classes as part of the search by local law enforcement.

Freshman Kaitlin Silva

Freshman Kaitlin Silva

Dogs were brought into certain classes as part of the search by local law enforcement.

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Sophomore Lauren Raposa exited her chemistry class and entered the girl’s bathroom in the B floor science wing at 10:11. Upon entrance, two upperclassmen stood at the bathroom mirror. Raposa walked into a stall and read the chilling words on the right side of the wall. She paused for countless moments, absorbing the threatening words of a bomb threat.

Raposa nervously approached Senior Bella Freitas and Senior Grace Woodcock and advised them to take in the notice of the writing for themselves. Anxiously, she snapped a photograph of the message and began to devise a plan to alert DHS administration. The three girls reported their findings to the Deans within minutes upon its discovery.

Raposa returned back to B7 and waited patiently. For what only several people knew would soon be spread throughout the school, and soon enough, the Town of Dartmouth.  

Although the girls discovered the graffiti at 10:11, an announcement was not made until later. “When I noticed that it was before 10:30 [which was the time noted in the threat], I was watching the clock, and I was getting nervous because they didn’t make an announcement until after 10:30,” Woodcock said.

Principal Ross Thibault came over the intercom to instruct students to shelter in place. While students stayed in their classrooms, administration contacted the fire and police departments and followed the Massachusetts State Police Bomb Threat Assessment Guide, which deemed the threat low-risk. Local police departments collaborated to search the campus and eventually called an all-clear, ending the shelter in place.

The ordeal lasted over two and a half hours, during which many students were anxious and some in desperate need of a bathroom.

Senior Cody Santos fell into the latter category while in Anatomy, but students were not supposed to leave their classes, even to use the bathroom. Anatomy Teacher Dorran Cohen had a solution. Santos said, “She told me to go to the closet, lock the door, then [urinate] in the trash. It was weird.” He followed her advice, although he believes he should have been allowed to leave the classroom instead.

English Teacher Ann Fifield had students with similar difficulties during her AP English Language and Composition class. Students were working on their research papers when two girls said they had to use the bathroom. Ms. Fifield was prepared, having anticipated such a situation at the beginning of the school year and stocked supplies in her closet. She set up a colorful shower curtain, a bucket, and some tissues in the corner of the room. “Some kids used it. The other kids didn’t want them to be uncomfortable, so they moved to the other side of the room and sang the Happy Birthday song really loud in Portuguese,” she said. “It was awesome that they were so mature about it, but I was really hoping we would never have to use it.”

Several bomb sniffing dogs entered various classrooms throughout the duration of the shelter in place, including Ms. Kearney’s class. “Nobody was freaking out,” said freshman Kaitlin Silva. “He walked around the classroom and knocked over a binder,” she said. The dogs were not brought into many of the classes that were in close proximity with the bathroom under investigation, but they sniffed through many of the classrooms on the floor above.

Senior Hannah Furtado was at her internship for the extent of the bomb threat, but DHS did not inform those students of the situation. “The internship teacher should have called us,” said Furtado. As a result of the threat, the school did not allow anyone to enter the building. “They wanted us to sit in the parking lot,” she said.

Junior Alex Bellora was so calm that he fell asleep. However, he acknowledges that not everyone had the same experience. “It wasn’t nerve-wracking for me, but I know it was for other people,” he said. “I thought it was really dumb that someone would want to cause so much panic.”

For a generation growing up in an era in which school violence is anticipated, these threats are not so shocking. The lockdown disrupted lunch shifts, causing Sofia Montez to share her meal with classmates who did not have their own, leaving her more hungry than scared. “Things like this happen all the time,” she said. “It happened when I was in fourth grade at DeMello. So you just expect it at some point.”

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