Social Media Threat impacts Galena High School


Looking a little bare. Students in Mrs. Rosenthal’s first hour class on Monday worked in a classroom filled with fewer students than normal. After the bomb threat on Sunday night many people opted out of going to school. This resulted in classes and halls that were not as busy as usual. “There weren’t that many people at school on Monday,” Ben Nack ‘20 said. “Danger is around us every day. It’s important to face it with courage, and to put trust in the administrators that they are making the best call for everyone.” In Mrs. Rosenthal’s room 11 of the 21 students were absent.

At a quarter after nine on Sunday evening, Jan. 13, most students, faculty, and staff were ready for their night to come to an end. They were preparing themselves for the following morning – the dreadful Monday. Little did everyone know that Monday, Jan. 14 would be a bit more dreadful than usual.

On Sunday, Jan. 13 many GHS students had messages delivered to them through their Instagram accounts. These messages told the students that they should not go to school the following day because the school was going to be bombed and “turned into ashes.”
These messages were passed quickly through social media to many more students at GHS. “When I got the messages, I felt really worried,” said freshman Brady Schemehorn. “I was scared for my friends and classmates, and I didn’t know what to think. It took me by surprise.”

Some students who received the messages informed their parents of the suspicious threats, while the parents took the time to contact teachers from the high school. This quick action by students and their parents helped the administration immediately get to work on solving the issue, and in order to keep students and teachers safe.

“I’m so proud of the students who came forward, and told their teachers and parents what was going on,” teacher Sarah Rosenthal said. “I think it shows that Galena High School is a place where students can trust their teachers.”
When Superintendent Greg Herbst first heard of the bomb threats on Sunday night, he knew that he had to make a quick decision. The first thing Herbst wanted to do was to inform the parents in the district of the situation.

The second thing that he wanted to do was to let people know that the issue was being investigated thoroughly. The decision that Herbst and Principal Beth Murphy initially made was to delay school by two hours. It was already late at night, and the amount of time the investigation would take to get to the bottom of the threats was unknown.

Herbst and Murphy worked diligently with the police in this investigation. Interviews were conducted, and security tapes were viewed to follow up on any suspicious activity of the potential suspects.

One issue of the bomb threat itself was that the threat was not specific as to which of the three Galena schools were being targeted. Resolving this issue was Herbst and Murphy’s main focus from Sunday night to Tuesday afternoon.

Once the police discovered who sent these threats, the next step was to find out who else may or may not have been involved. It was found that the bomb threats were not credible, and the motive was to get school cancelled on Monday. The threats themselves were intended to be harmless, however, it had an extremely harmful effect on all members of the Galena school community.

Because of this situation, some students had mixed feelings, and were afraid to attend school. There were a total of 55 students absent from school Monday due to safety reasons.

Senior Jack Einsweiler was one of the students that attended school on Monday even though he felt a bit uneasy about it, “Yeah, I was a little shocked by the threats,” he said. “But people said it was safe to go to school, so I went to school, as simple as that.”

Students arrived to school late on Monday to an uncommon sight, a police presence in the halls before school. Often the Galena Police Department will send patrols to do a walk through, but this was the first time in recent memory that police have greeted students as they arrived. The reason for this was because Herbst and Murphy wanted their students to feel as safe as possible.

“After receiving this threat, we took matters very seriously because nothing can be taken lightly anymore in this day in age,” said Murphy. “School safety is of the utmost importance.”

The decision to have school after a two hour delay was made because there was information from the police department that there was no credible threat. “The administration would never put our students or staff in harm’s way,” said Murphy.

“If there was the slightest threat that the students’ safety would’ve be comprised, we wouldn’t have had school,” said Herbst.

Not only were the students deeply affected, but the teachers were as well. “I was relieved to hear that the threats were handled by morning, yet very nervous to come back to school,” said teacher Katie McIntyre. “It is my hope that these students face serious consequences, and their actions are a reminder that all decisions have life-altering consequences.”