Threats keep students home

Published 12:00 am Thursday, April 21, 2005

Rumors of school violence at Nansemond River High School and John Yeates Middle School kept hundreds of students home on Wednesday.

A purported hit list of students and teachers circulating around Nansemond River prompted nearly half -564-of the 1,269 students enrolled to skip classes, said Bethanne Bradshaw, spokeswoman for Suffolk Public Schools.

Nearly 30 percent of

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John Yeates Middle Schools’ 904 students stayed home after a message written on a bathroom wall warned of a bombing on Wednesday. Although details were not listed, the message stated that an incident involving harm to students would occur.

Both incidents come on the seventh anniversary of the Columbine High School massacre, in which a pair of Colorado teens killed several of their classmates.

Suffolk Public Schools implemented extra precautions, including sending letters home to parents of students at both schools last week.

Security was beefed up at all of the city’s middle and high schools Wednesday as a precautionary measure, Bradshaw said.

A metal detector full sweep was also done at Nansemond River Wednesday, she said. A bomb-sniffing dog was at John Yeates Middle School before classes started, until about 7:20 a.m., she said.

&uot;We had extra security at all the middle and high schools today because we care,&uot; said Bradshaw.

&uot;Students missed out on a lot of instructional time.&uot;