By: Tiffany Black—(grade 10)—
On the morning of October 2, Tussey Mountain High School’s student picture day, the Tussey Mountain High School went on an unexpected lockdown. The lockdown before homeroom was not a drill, and a possible threat was occuring outside the high school. Students, teachers, and other staff members were shocked, and some students shed some tears and smeared some mascara right before getting their pictures taken for the yearbook.
Officer David Buseck, the school’s resource officer, was present at the school when he got the report to put the school on lockdown. “I got a call from one of the teachers; they heard something that sounded like gunshots. We were told to get the kids into their classrooms.” Although the call was shocking to say the very least, Buseck did not succumb to the pressure and possible severity of the situation. “I think it was good for us to experience this at a different time other than class times [to be prepared].”
One of Tussey Mountain’s many math teachers and PRIDE team representative, Robert Hummel, explains the situation as he was on duty at the back door of the school that morning. “A teacher came in from the back parking lot and claimed that they heard three gunshots; I radioed Mr. McCahan [Junior High Principal] and Officer Buseck to come to the back parking lot.” Hummel continues to explain his experience of the situation, “We heard the shots, and we went on lockdown.”
High school senior, Alivia Melius explained, “I was in the locker room talking with my friends when I heard the school was on lockdown; my homeroom was on the other side of the school, so my friends and I just looked at each other, and we booked it to homeroom.” Like many other students, Melius explains that she was in a combination of shock, confusion, and fear. “My homeroom teacher was out, so there was a substitute, and the substitute wasn’t there when I arrived. [Needless to say] I was scared.”
There are differing opinions as to the source of the suspected noise. Some teachers and students believe it was a couple gunshots. Concerned parents and other adults in the Tussey Mountain area claimed they saw a bus “backfiring,” which caused the explosions to go off. According to Interim Superintendent, Dr. Jerry Shoemake, the findings of the Pennsylvania State Police confirmed a bus backfiring was the source of the disruption.
Nonetheless, the situation was handled well, according to both Officer Buseck and Hummel. Amy Snyder, English teacher and Titan Media Adviser, was impressed with the quick reaction of her TV Crew students who enter the building at 7:30 AM to prepare for the daily broadcast. “I was returning from checking on the school photographers in the gym when the lockdown announcement came over the PA system. I rounded the corner to the TV studio to find the students had engaged the nightlocks on the classroom door and went into hiding. This is exactly what they were supposed to do. I was proud of them.” SRO Buseck says, “There are things we can improve and situations I’d like to see change, [but] we handled it well.”