Editor’s Note: This story was updated Thursday at 10:44 a.m
POTTSTOWN PA – A “verbal altercation between two students during the 8th grade lunch” period late Wednesday morning (Sept. 12, 2012) in the cafeteria of Pottsgrove Middle School – in which one student “overturned the salad bar” there – caused the North Hanover Street building to be locked down “as a precautionary measure,” Principal Bill Ziegler said Thursday.
The student attempted to run from the cafeteria but was stopped and restrained by the school safety officer and other staff members. The building returned to “normal” with all students and staff back in their classes shortly thereafter, Ziegler noted in an e-mail response to questions about the incident posed by The Post.
The lock-down was necessary, Ziegler said, “to ensure the safety of all students,” and “the situation was brought to a safe resolution.” No weapons were involved at any time, he added.
Ziegler distributed similar information to parents in a follow-up e-mail Wednesday afernoon.
An earlier version of the story appears below.
Still unknown: the time, cause, nature, or duration of the event that prompted Wednesday’s lock-down
POTTSTOWN PA – Students and faculty members at the Pottsgrove School District’s Pottsgrove Middle School were placed on lock-down inside the building Wednesday (Sept. 12, 2012) at about mid-day for what Principal Dr. William Ziegler called “an incident involving a student.”
The exact time, cause and nature of the incident, and its duration, could not be determined when this report was written Thursday (Sept. 13) at 5 a.m.
Ziegler posted a notice on the middle school page at the district website, shortly before 1 p.m. Wednesday, to notify parents and others that he had “needed to lock down the building” so no one could enter or leave without authorization. At about the same time, according to a Facebook update posted by one parent, a similar recorded message was broadcast to students’ families using the district’s newly expanded Power Announcement system.
No one was injured during the incident, according to Ziegler. “All students and staff are back safely in their classes and everything is back to normal,” his message said. “We followed appropriate emergency procedures, emergency personnel responded, and the incident was brought to a safe resolution for all students,” he added.
Because Ziegler’s message relied on past-tense phrasing, it is assumed the incident occurred at around noon or earlier. Social media messages on Twitter and Facebook from concerned individuals also indicated the event had taken place during the school’s morning session. The lack of information in the message was noticed by, and apparently bothered, some recipients, although Ziegler encouraged those with questions to contact him.
What they were saying about the lock-down on social media
“Website states emergency personnel responded, but no details,” one author observed at 1:26 p.m. in his Twitter feed. “Any word on lockdown of #PGMS this morning?,” he asked.
“OK, so it’s not even a month into school and this,” a woman remarked at 12:57 p.m. on Facebook. “I do not like when things like this happens at a school where any of the children I know attend. And I certainly would like to know what happened.”
At least one middle school student took the incident in stride. “School was crazy,” she blared on Twitter at 3:34 p.m. “Welcome to Pottsgrove. #CodeRed”
Want official Pottsgrove messages fast? Get “Power Announcement”
Distribution of the lock-down message may have been one of Pottsgrove’s first real-time tests of Power Announcement, which it introduced this month. The notification system is an expansion of an earlier version, and “is loaded with new features that will make it easier” for the district to keep in touch with its families, Director of Technology Michael Wagman reported in a letter posed only days earlier at the district website.
Power Announcement, which is part of the district’s Power School Portal, allows Pottsgrove to send simultaneous messages using e-mail, voice, and text messaging. Parents, however, are responsible for setting and updating their notification preferences themselves. “To guarantee the messaging system is used efficiently, we will need to confirm your contact information is accurate and up-to-date at all times,” Wagman’s letter noted.
Emergency messages, possibly such as the one issued by Ziegler, “are always sent with all three message types (e-mail, text, and voice calls)” to all contact points indicated by parents,” the letter added. “Emergency messages will be labeled as such,” it told parents, “so you will know it is an actual emergency.”
Graphic from Google Images; Ziegler photo from Evan Brandt’s Digital Notebook