Ogden teachers, students show their mettle day after layton bomb scare

Thursday , March 06, 2014 - 11:53 AM

Loretta Park, Nancy Van Valkenburg

OGDEN — Shadow Valley Elementary School staff kept about 590 students calm as they evacuated the school in an orderly fashion after a written bomb threat was found in the boys bathroom, says a parent volunteer.

Steve Lister happened to be volunteering at the school, 4911 S. 1500 East, on Tuesday when Principal Don Mendenhall announced on the school’s intercom system that all students, staff, faculty and administration needed to leave the building.

“It was like a normal evacuation and sounded like a normal drill,” Lister said.

He said teachers quickly organized the students and began the walk to the reunification center. Once at the center, the teachers and staff coordinated the process for parents to pick up their children.

“They were calm, and it was a breath of fresh air,” he said.

Lister said once he was outside with his group of students, he realized it was not a drill; he saw police and district officials arriving on the scene.

Teachers kept the students calm until their parents arrived. Some students shed a few tears upon seeing their parents, he said.

Lister had to leave his car at the school and walked home with his sons, who are in the second and fourth grades.

“We talked about what probably happened, and they were extremely calm.”

The school was evacuated after a written bomb threat was found in the boys bathroom around 11:30 a.m., said Donna Corby, Ogden School District spokeswoman.

Corby said the evacuation went smoothly. Teachers conducted themselves calmly and cleared the rooms quickly, she said.

Corby also said it was comforting to see that older students who had been assigned to “buddy” with younger students put their instructions into action.

“Our drill practice paid off today,” she said.

A search by the Ogden Police Department, with the aid of bomb-sniffing dogs from Hill Air Force Base, turned up no devices, said Ogden Police Lt. Danielle Croyle.

Teachers were allowed back into the school to retrieve their personal belongings. The school will be open today.

Croyle said all students were released to their parents. She said no other school has been threatened.

Officers will look through surveillance video as part of the investigation, she said. There are no suspects at this time.

At the scene, Darius Penland arrived to pick up his son Charlie, 10. Penland’s wife called him to say the school had been evacuated because of a bomb threat.

“It’s just standard procedure with the way society is nowadays,” Penland said.

He was impressed with the calm way the school handled the evacuation to an undisclosed location nearby. His son’s biggest concern was hunger pangs, because the evacuation occurred right before lunch.

“He’s starving. He didn’t get lunch,” his dad said with a smile.

Angie Heiner, a reading tutor at the school, said missing lunch was the biggest concern for many of the students.

“As far as panic, there wasn’t a lot,” she said.

Heiner also has a daughter who attends Shadow Valley. However, she said she felt safe because the school had reviewed safety procedures and protocol often during the school year.

“We had a plan,” said Jacque Russo, another reading tutor.

Russo admits she was a little panicked, but only because it wasn’t clear what was going on at first. Later, the teachers and administrators were being careful not to tell the kids there had been a bomb threat so they wouldn’t worry, she said.

Everyone worked hard to maintain composure and handle things professionally, she said. Administrators were everywhere at the evacuation site, checking parents’ identifications and making sure children were going with the right people, she said.

Heiner said some of the younger kids were quite worried and some tears were shed, especially when they saw their parents.

“The teachers were very good. I was impressed,” Heiner said of the way the teachers calmly answered questions and kept things under control.

Standard-Examiner correspondent Rachel Trotter contributed to this article.

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