By: Anna Kate Baygents
The morning of January 14th started off like any other Friday. When students heard the intercom beep, they expected to hear the usual dress code check announcement, but instead they heard Assistant Principal Shelia Kribbs. She announced that she would be dismissing classes by hallways to evacuate to Temple Baptist Church.
“The students could tell that I was serious, and they were willing to do what had to be done,” Kribbs said.
With reasons still unknown, all 1,500 students made the journey to the church. This could have been like “herding cats” as Principal Wayne Folkes said, but all faculty members agree that it went well.
“I was very pleased with the way the students followed directions the first time given,” police officer Rita Pickering said.
Temple Baptist allowed the school to hold students in the sanctuary. Once all were seated, Mrs. Kribbs announced that a message had been left on the school’s phone the previous night. It stated that there was a bomb in the school, and if everyone evacuated, no one would get hurt.
“We always have to act as if it’s the real thing, whether we think so or not,” Kribbs said.
Students began checking out by the masses, and Coach Smith provided the comic relief while announcing checkouts.
“We were able to do what we did efficiently because we have great students and faculty that handled it the best way possible. I couldn’t have asked for a better response,” Coach Smith said.
Mr. Folkes was out of town for an MHSAA conference, and did not return to campus until around noon that day.
“I hated that I wasn’t there in my school’s time of need, but I was in constant communication with the administrators that were,” Folkes said.
Many faculty members stepped up in his absence to help. It wasn’t, however, just OGHS staff calling the shots. Chief Rosser, over all Lamar County School District officers, stayed at the school with secretary Barbara Keaster the whole day, and helped advise Mrs. Kribbs on some of her decisions. When teachers were bussed back to the school to check their classrooms for any abnormalities, the hallways were flooded with officers to ensure the teachers’ safety.
The MS Highway Patrol brought a bomb dog from Jackson, causing the wait at Temple to be longer than expected. For lunch, students were fed sack lunches in the church’s gym, and did not return back to class until 1:30 p.m. When the dismissal bell rang at 3:40 p.m., only 214 students remained on campus.
An investigation of the culprit is currently underway. The case is being worked on by not only the Lamar County Sheriff’s Department, but also the FBI and the United States Marshals. The school district plans on persecuting the offender to the fullest extent of the law.