School or Prison?

Cause and Effect Essay

By Bill Casey


   At Wyoming Valley West there have been too many disruptions that have given our school a negative reputation.  Threats of violence were all too common. These threats affected many people involved in theschool district.  They also affected the police officers that put their lives on the line to come into abuilding with a possible bomb inside. 

My senior year stands out among the rest. Coming into my senior year of high school, I hoped that I would have a nice, quiet, enjoyable, and memorable year.  However, it ended up being the worst year ofmy four years in high school.  Within the stretch of a week and a half, there were four bomb threats made at our school.  On the days of each threat there was a note found in the girls' lavatory.

    The first note was found on a Friday afternoon after school was dismissed.  I did not hear about it untilthe following Monday.  On that day, I was sitting in Law class like any other Monday morning.  It wasaround 10:30 A.M., when the principal of the school, Mr. DeRemer, spoke over the loud speaker.  He announced that the building was being evacuated.  Every student had to immediately leave the building in an orderly fashion and report directly to his or her bus.  Those students who drove to school were toleave their vehicles behind.  At the time, no one was sure what was happening.

    When I got home that afternoon, I turned on the television to see if there was anything on the newsMany of the local news stations were at the school, and they reported that there had been a bombthreat.  This scared me. It had been only a mere ten months since the tragedy in Littleton, Colorado atColumbine High School.  Even though I knew that it was most likely somebody just playing games, I stillhad to think of the worst.  We were allowed to return to the school that evening to pick up our cars. 

    The next day, the pranksters did not wait too long too strike again.  I was sitting in first period,Classical Literature class.  My teacher in that class just happened to be the wife of the superintendent ofWyoming Valley West School District.  Ironically, we were talking about what the school board wasdoing about the previous bomb threat when Mr. DeRemer once again announced that the building wasbeing evacuated.  This time, there was no doubt why.  Instead of going directly to our buses, we all hadto walk across the street behind a church.  State law says that you have to be a certain number a feetaway from a building during a bomb threat.  I am not quite sure of the exact number of feet.  I wondered why they did not make us do the same thing the day before. 

    A neighboring elementary school was also evacuated.  Seeing those small children truly upset me.They were very scared and confused.  At this time I knew it was a joke, but I also knew that the schooladministrators could not take anything for granted.

    We were behind the church for a long time.  It was February so it was cold.  We were not given time togo to our lockers, so no one had a jacket.  After about an hour, I finally got on a bus and went to myfriend's house.  I would have gotten on my own bus, but it was very confusing on that day.  I did not wantto waste time looking for the right bus.  My friend gave me a ride home in his father's car.  Neither of ushad our own car, because they were still back in the school parking lot.  I was not able to get my carback until later that night.

    Going to school the next day, I had a bad feeling about what was going to happen.  I probably shouldnot have driven to school that day.  We actually made it to sixth period before yet another bomb threat.The same evacuation rules applied from the previous day.  My coat and my car were left behind once again. 

    As I sat home that day, I was very angry.  I could not understand why someone was doing this.  Oncewas bad enough, but four days in a row was horrendous!  I returned to school that evening again to getmy car.  While I was there, I found out that classes were cancelled for the rest of the week.

    The police had to make sure that the building was bomb free.  No bomb was ever found.  The schoolboard had to decide how they were going to take care of this major problem. 

    When we returned to school on Monday after our long weekend, we noticed immediate changes. Instead of hanging out in the hallways and talking to our friends before homeroom as we had done forthree and half years, we had to wait outside until the doors were opened at 7:30 A.M.  When I enteredthe building on the first day back, I thought I was in a prison.  For the rest of the year, there were police officers roaming the building on a regular basis.

    We had an assembly that morning with the school board, the members of some of the local policede partments, and the district attorney. The assembly was to inform us how our lives were going to be for the rest of the year.  The district attorney went over the possible punishments for the person who was responsible.  Since bomb threats are considered terrorist threats, this was a very serious offense.However, no one was ever caught.   

    For the rest of the year no student was allowed to carry backpacks around the building.  They were to remain in our lockers.  Also, there were only two bathrooms open, one for the guys and one for the girls.We had to sign in and out of the bathrooms, so the administrators knew who was in the bathroom andwhen they were in there.  The school board also at one point threatened to cancel our senior prom, andall extra curricular activities.  Luckily that didn't happened.  I would have been very disappointed if my senior year of baseball had been cancelled.  It also would have been disappointing to miss my senior prom.

    These incidents have given Wyoming Valley West a bad name that it does not deserve.  I have never feared for my life at Valley West, but the possibility of violence is present at any school.  Even though most of the threats of violence that were made were jokes, it is an issue that cannot be taken lightly. Making terrorist threats at a school is no joking matter.  There have been too many incidents of school violence throughout the country.


    For the most part I am proud of my alma mater, but I am glad that I am out of that school.  Most of the people in the school were very nice people, but I could not stand going to school in a prison anymore.  I feel sorry for the students who are still there.  The school board was supposed to make even more regulations that would the affect all students.  A couple of bad apples ruined it for everyone.  I think the school board handled the situations as well as they could, but there is more that needs to be done in all of America's public schools.  Some people need a change of heart, and to gain a respect for life. Students need to learn that violence is not the answer, and threats of violence are no joke.  I am glad that I have not heard any threats of violence so far this year at Wyoming Valley West, and I hope that it stays that way.