Administration Accidentally Calls Lockdown Instead of Bingo; Causes Fear, Confusion


By Sarah Waters, News and Academics Editor

On Tuesday morning during homeroom, the administration inadvertently called a lockdown over the intercom instead of the daily bingo numbers. When the lockdown announcement ended, director of student activities Katie Odell informed the school that the lockdown recording was accidentally activated.

In a Tuesday email to students, assistant principal of operations Steve Parnther said the error was made due to the input of an incorrect code. Students were advised to seek help from their counselors if the incident caused emotional harm.

“During our homeroom announcement today, we pressed the wrong access code on the intercom and it triggered a lockdown announcement,” Parnther said. “This was an accident and we immediately clarified the incident on the intercom.”

The false lockdown startled many students and teachers, many of whom were fearful due to the prevalence of school shootings. There have been 22 school shootings in which someone was hurt or killed in 2019. Niles West was placed on lockdown two years ago due to the presence of an Airsoft gun in school.

“I just did what was automatic. I shut off the lights and locked the door. It doesn’t surprise me that it was accidental,” English teacher Tamara Jaffe-Notier said. “Mistakes happen.”

Since West had an official lockdown drill on Oct. 8, some believed that this was not a drill, and that danger was present. Some students experienced anxiety and stress.

“I was in the south lobby for French Honor Society. Thankfully, a business teacher from across the hall told us to huddle in her classroom with her kids. The worst part was when they said it was an accident, because that made it so much more frightening to me,” senior Amani Laliwala said.

“When the code sounded, I remember everyone getting quiet and I got really cold. I was sort of in disbelief. We were also in one of the renovated science wing classrooms, and the lights do not turn off. It was stunning to think that if there were an actual incident, I would be in a room with two doors that someone could look into and with lights that couldn’t turn off,” senior Ryan Volpe said. “It really threw off the rest of my day, too. I went through it thinking about what would’ve happened if there were really an incident.”

However, some classrooms didn’t hear the announcement at all. The message, which was recorded by Parnther, is noticeably quiet. Concern spread that in the event of an actual lockdown, some classrooms wouldn’t follow protocol because they weren’t aware of the situation.

“I didn’t hear it, and I was in the band wing,” senior Brian Pryzby said. “The announcement was so quiet that none of us heard it.”

“I was at Mini-Portfolio Day for art, and we didn’t even hear the announcement,” senior Kat Kriz said. “It’s scary that we had a lockdown announcement and we didn’t know at all. We had college representatives there and kids from other schools. If there were really an emergency, it could’ve been really bad.”

When Odell announced the accident, some were skeptical that the all clear signal was not legitimate. At the conclusion of a lockdown, an official message must be announced that gives the school permission to resume normal activities. On Tuesday, that did not immediately occur.

“When they announced it was an accident, it didn’t sound official at all. The teacher told us to stay and not to move until there was a more official announcement to say everything was okay,” Laliwala said. “Someone knocked on our door, and I genuinely thought I was going to die. I remember thinking then that I wasn’t going to make it home that day.”

However, once it was clear everyone was safe, students and teachers found ways to make light of the situation.

This meme circulated after the lockdown scare.