Topsham school evacuated following bomb threat

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TOPSHAM — Students were evacuated from Woodside Elementary School Friday morning in response to a bomb threat, one day after reports of threats at Mt. Ararat High School.

“In an abundance of caution in response to a safety threat to Woodside School, we have relocated all Woodside staff and students to the Orion (Performing Arts Center), next to the Middle School. Staff and students are all safe at the Orion,” SAD 75 reported on Facebook.

No further details were available Friday morning. 

Additional police officers were on duty at Mt. Ararat High School Friday morning, following a report the previous day of two potential threats.

Administrators on Thursday heard a report that a student “had made a statement that suggested a threat of violence tomorrow at school,” Principal Donna Brunette wrote later that day on the school website. “Follow up conversations suggest this is a rumor and Topsham Police have followed up on this report.”

Brunette also mentioned two boys conversing about an online video game that focuses on school violence and remarks that something could be done at the school to alarm students. Those students are being disciplined for causing a “significant disturbance at school and language that suggests a threat.”

She said police were looking into the matter.

“Based on information gathered regarding both reports, administration does not believe that there is any credible threat of violence at our school,” the principal said.

The alleged threat came on the heels of a school shooting Wednesday in Florida, which took the lives of 17 students and staff.

“The news of yet another school shooting heightens our fears and anxiety about the safety of children everywhere, including here in MSAD No. 75,” Superintendent Brad Smith wrote in a message shared by Topsham Police. “No school system can take the risk of assuming it could never happen here. In our school system, student safety and emergency response has been one of our highest priorities.”

“While some younger children may not even be aware of the incident in Florida, older students are talking, texting and posting on social media. Be aware that such information is often inaccurate or speculation,” he added. “Nevertheless, we take any and all reports very seriously and cooperate fully with our local law enforcement agencies. We are currently unable to verify any specific threats to our high school or any of our schools.”

Police Chief Chris Lewis opted to “provide additional officer presence at the high school tomorrow (Friday), which we hope will bring some sense of comfort and reassurance to parents, students and staff,” Smith noted.

Alex Lear can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 113 or Follow him on Twitter: @learics.

A Maine native and Colby College graduate, Alex has been covering coastal communities since 2001, and currently handles Bath, Topsham, Cumberland, and North Yarmouth. He and his wife, Lauren, live in the Portland area, and Alex recently released his third album of original music.