Prank or Threat at Northwood High School for Finals Week?

My son Alex is a senior at Northwood High School in Irvine, so it’s with that context that I received an email from the school on Friday alerting parents to a “situation” that happened last week.  A teacher found some graffiti in a restroom at the school that raised cause for alarm to the point of getting the Irvine Police Department involved, but this being Irvine and with the note coming from IUSD, the email was scant on details. 

Here’s the text:

“On Thursday, Jan. 22, members of our staff discovered graffiti in one of the bathroom stalls on campus that is cause for concern. Following our standard course of action, the Irvine Police Department was contacted to investigate the matter, which is now believed to be a possible attempt to disrupt finals week.

 Our staff is working closely with authorities to identify the individual or individuals responsible for the vandalism. Furthermore, as an added precaution, the Irvine Police Department plans to increase its presence on campus and in the vicinity next week to ensure that our students feel safe, calm and ready to tackle finals.

 The security and wellbeing of students remains a top priority for our school district. Procedures are in place to mitigate incidents on campus, and our staff is trained regularly to spot suspicious activity and to respond accordingly.

 As always, thank you for supporting Northwood High School.”

So, to find out more, I had to wait for the kid and his friends to come home Friday and give me details.  The graffiti allegedly threatens students who come to school tomorrow (Tuesday) the first day of finals.  And it’s a death threat of sorts, but not to anyone in particular.  However the lessons of Columbine High School and Virginia Tech are seared into the psyche of school administrators and law enforcement.  So, as a parent of a NHS student, I approve of the actions taken by the school’s leadership and IUSD to take this threat seriously.  What I wished the email did was be more specific about what was written, when it was discovered, and any other advice we could use when discussing this situation with our kids. 

I ran into some NHS students at Starbucks this morning (coaching Little League years ago always pays off..these were former players of mine), and they seemed to know exactly what was written and even offered guesses as to who might have written the message.  But of course, none of them felt the need to share this information with school officials.  I think that’s the wrong approach.

I had an in-depth conservation with my son to tell him if he knew anything specific about this, he does have a obligation to say something now.  This isn’t a time for peer-pressure to kick in.  And while I believe Irvine PD will have the campus tightly patrolled, I worry more about the winter formal coming up this week.   

Irvine is a safe place to live and raise kids.  But it’s not crimeproof.  This situation only serves as a distraction for kids taking finals.

  4 comments for “Prank or Threat at Northwood High School for Finals Week?

  1. f
    January 25, 2010 at 9:10 pm

    Has anybody you know seen with their own eyes what it said? Ive only heard what its said, but no one actully seen it. It could have started out as something like Ime scared, ime going to die[in finals] and eventually got changed into something else.

  2. January 26, 2010 at 9:58 am

    No. Three different stories from three different kids all proclaiming to have seen the graffiti. Which is exactly why we posted the story and where IUSD’s email home to parents was inadequate.

  3. Student
    January 27, 2010 at 11:48 am

    Finals get really stressful, so for that reason, I don’t think that the school wanted to release any other information that could freak people out even more. If the parents are greatly concerned about what was written, instead of soley asking the high school students who could be hearing all this by word of mouth or via the rumor mill, the parents should be asking school officials. The only real evidence in this article is the email sent to parents, everything else are simply stories…as Mr. Chmielewski stated, \three different kids all PROCLAIMING to have seen the graffiti.\ Proclaiming doesn’t necessarily mean that they know the story first hand.

    In my opinion, chool officials are doing a very good job keeping things calm at NHS and the students seem to have moved on from this story and focused on their finals.

  4. Dan Chmielewski
    January 27, 2010 at 12:33 pm

    School officials and Irvine police have done an excellent job of keeping everyone calm and safe. You seem to misunderstand the point of this post — in this case, less information is not more. And by reporting that three different kids had three different stories shoul dhave been obvious that what they said they knew shouldn’t be trusted. School officials could have been more forthcoming with details, better explain the steps being taken to make sure students and staff were safe, and treat parents on the email string like the adults were are.

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