2014-11-28 / Front Page

Threat brings postponement of Thanksgiving pep rally

By David Dore

A threat by a student who mentioned “shooting up” this week’s Thanksgiving football pep rally at Leominster High School led to the annual event being postponed a day and changing locations, officials said.

Leominster High School Interim Principal Beth Pratt announced in a ConnectEd message the afternoon of Nov. 24 that the pep rally, to be held the next day at the school, was canceled. But the following morning, Mayor and School Committee Chairman Dean Mazzarella announced the rally would be held at noon Nov. 26 at Leominster City Hall.

“Like the song says, ‘We’re leaving the negative behind. We are on the move. Ain’t no stopping us now,’” the mayor said in a Tuesday morning Facebook posting.

“Two students went to the Leominster Police Department at 5:40 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 21 to report that a student had talked about ‘shooting up’ the pep rally scheduled for Nov. 25,” Pratt stated in her message, which was also posted on the Police Department’s Facebook page. “They investigated this claim throughout the night, going to students’ homes and questioning students and their parents at the station. While no evidence of any credible threat was found, a student faces the consequences of disrupting a school assembly and has been suspended from school. Other students have been very helpful with information regarding this investigation and are to be praised for doing the right thing.

“In light of the above matter, the administrative team has made the painful decision to cancel the pep rally,” she added. “ ... We do this as an extra precaution and understand that there will be disappointment for many of our students.”

“From what I can determine no actual threat was actually made, nor did the police [ever] feel that there was any actually credible information to determine safety was in question,” Mazzarella stated Monday night on Facebook. “The police informed the school authorities of this information. It was decided upon by school officials that the pep rally would be canceled tomorrow.”

The senior breakfast and senior picture were to take place as planned, Pratt said. In addition, she said, students who were to be dismissed before 10:45 a.m. Tuesday needed to have a note to the school’s main office by 7:30 a.m. No students were allowed to enter the building after 7:30 a.m., she said.

People who posted comments on the Leominster Police Department’s Facebook page commended the two students for coming forward with the information. Some felt bad for Leominster High School students, especially seniors, who would miss out with the pep rally being canceled.

“I’ve been looking forward to this day since [freshman] year and I’m very disappointed that the rally can’t happen,” senior Jared Richards wrote on Twitter Monday night. “And it’s not just me, it’s the entire class of 2015 — we’ve all been waiting for this day.”

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