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Terrorists hold learning hostage

Excited+students+watch+as+a+helicopter+flies+over+the+football+field.+WSBTV+covered+the+evacuation.+
Excited students watch as a helicopter flies over the football field. WSBTV covered the evacuation.

Excited students watch as a helicopter flies over the football field. WSBTV covered the evacuation.

Micah Howell

Micah Howell

Excited students watch as a helicopter flies over the football field. WSBTV covered the evacuation.

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Photo by Bronlyn Holland
Students wait news in the bleachers during the evacuation. This bomb threat took up about two hours of instructional time.

Photo by Micah Howell
Excited students watch as a helicopter flies over the football field. WSBTV covered the evacuation.

$18,000 could buy band uniforms, much-needed textbooks, journalism cameras, upgraded bathrooms, new televisions, or even an outdoor classroom. $18,000 could help improve the school-life of Ola. Instead, it was wasted on a prank.

During the past three months, Ola High School received two bomb threats. Both times every student and faculty member was evacuated onto the football field and law enforcement was called in. Most people see fake bomb threats as a chance to get out of class, if so it’s a very expensive vacation.

Together, the threats consumed approximately four hours of instructional time. During this time teachers and administrators were getting paid to sit outside. First responders were pulled from their stations and therefore unavailable for true emergencies. Other factors such as police dogs, firetrucks, gas, and discarded lunches just compound the financial cost.  

Although some may have enjoyed their unexpected break, not everyone was thankful to be outside. A break in a routine, especially something as nerve-racking as a bomb threat, severely agitates kids with disabilities. Alongside the distraught special needs kids, there were also people suffering from diabetes who had their meal schedules disrupted.

“[The special needs students] are stressed out right now; they are asking questions about what happened, they don’t understand what it means for someone to want to cause harm. They’re stressed out, they had to leave their lunches in the lunchroom so a lot of them haven’t eaten yet. Some of them are on feeding tubes so you can’t just pick up and run, so it’s a major deal,” Rachel McGaha, special needs teacher, said.

Not only were there medical concerns but we also had visitors on campus. 160 2nd graders from Ola Elementary were in the band hall for a concert when the building was evacuated.

“It’s not only you that you are affecting. You are affecting the entire school. You are affecting the people around you who you may not even be aware of their personal issues. Some people at this school already have struggles with depression and fearing death. Just adding that much fear to the situation just makes things worse,” Leslie Knowles, junior, said to the disrupters.

Although some may see these incidents as just silly kids who want to get out of class, they are not innocent. They make terroristic threats in the very place where students are supposed to feel safe.

“When you turn into the main road, it says school on the marque. [They] need to be respectful of the fact that there are 1600 kids at this school that deserve an opportunity for an education and the fact that [they] chose as a singleton person to amuse [themselves] really speaks to the fact that [they] perhaps need some mental health counseling,” Rosemary Ahonen, psychology teacher, said.

The only reason to enact a bomb threat is a selfish one. Not only does it distress most people, but it also removes students from an environment where they are meant to learn; it wastes taxpayer dollars on fake situations and completely takes advantage of the privileged freedom we have as Americans.

This doesn’t just disrupt learning, it reflects poorly on our school’s image and students future transcripts.

“Obviously when they get to college there is a maturity there the first few years and it’s part of growing up, we try to recruit guys who have a mature background…We are very selective,” Sean Beckton, coach at the University of Central Florida, said. Beckton was visiting the school during the bomb threat and said colleges do thorough social media checks before admitting students as well.

Although many teenagers have the reputation of dreading school, there are some children in other parts of the world that would do anything to have the education opportunities we have. While they are over there fearing for their life in REAL bomb situations, we are placating their fears in an environment that they are unable to have. However ridiculous it is, there are some kids who don’t want to receive an education. If that’s the case, then deal with it like everybody else: invest in a pair of headphones, don’t do your work, drop out of high school and live your life as one huge rager bro BUT don’t take away this incredible opportunity from other students.

So where do we go next? Do we stick our heads in the sand and pretend like it won’t happen again? Do we just learn to “live with it”? Or do we come together and change the atmosphere of our school?

President Bush said, “We don’t negotiate with terrorists.” Neither should Ola. Don’t protect these cowards; work with the administrators and give them the information you have. Be an agent of change. We are OLA.

 

 

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