Published in the February 3, 2016 edition


WAKEFIELD — Despite the threat phoned in to Wakefield Memorial High School yesterday morning, school and public safety officials were able to move quickly and efficiently to minimize the disruption, according to WMHS Principal Richard Metropolis.
At about 10:40 yesterday morning, parents of WMHS students received the following message from Metropolis via text and e-mail:
“This morning Wakefield Memorial High School received an automated phone call similar in nature to other threats made in surrounding communities during recent weeks. In accordance with the Massachusetts State Police guidelines, the district administrative team, along with the Wakefield Police and Fire Departments has initiated a precautionary evacuation. The field house has been cleared and students will be moved there shortly. Updates will be made as more information becomes available.”
By 11:40 a.m. School Superintendent Dr. Kim Smith issued the “all clear” announcement by text and e-mail:
“In response to an automated threat received by the office staff at Wakefield Memorial High School, school administration, in conjunction with the Wakefield Police and Fire Departments, initiated an evacuation of the building. After completing a search of the building, it was determined that the school is now safe for students to return. Classes are due to resume in the next few minutes and lunch will be served. We are appreciative of the collective effort of staff, students and emergency personnel.”
This morning, Metropolis described what transpired in between the reported threat and the “all clear” message.
“The school was evacuated at approximately 10 a.m. and we moved from our level 1 evacuation to a level 2 evacuation into the field house after it was cleared and deemed safe by Wakefield Police and Fire personnel on scene,” Metropolis said today.
“Faculty, staff and students were in the field house while the rest of the school was cleared in accordance to procedures set forth by the Wakefield Police, Fire and School departments, which are regularly guided and trained by statewide police agencies for the type of threat we received (as well as any variety of threat we would encounter). We were able to return to our schedule at approximately 11:30 to resume our day.”
Metropolis had high praise for the response of public safety personnel.
“I cannot say enough about the support we as a school received from the town’s emergency services (police and fire) and the direction of our district administration, most notably Dr. Smith,” Metropolis said. “The whole situation was handled professionally and in accordance with our training and protocols.”
Metropolis was also grateful for the cooperation of students, faculty and staff throughout the incident.
“I could not be more proud of the students, faculty and staff at WMHS. Everyone was attentive, patient and followed the procedures and protocols we have in place to the best of their abilities,” said Metropolis. “I appreciate everyone’s efforts and I can truly state that the core values of the school community permeate our everyday experiences as well as any special circumstances that arise.”
Wakefield Police Lt. Scott Reboulet said that the effort that goes into planning for such incidents paid dividends yesterday.
“From our end, the coordination and teamwork among the Police, Fire and School departments went very smoothly,” Reboulet said. “The departments work together to plan for incidents like this and that planning pays off when we need to put it into practice.”
Reboulet also wanted to thank parents for not overreacting during the incident.
“Every parent’s instinct is to get their child out of danger,” Reboulet said, “but having everyone show up at the school actually causes more confusion. There were very few parents that tried to get their children dismissed while the incident was ongoing and that helped immensely. The school administrators have teams in place to get information out quickly via text messages and e-mails to update parents about significant incidents.”