MANCHESTER — Police will increase their presence at Memorial High School today after in-school violence on Tuesday led to a rumor that someone would bring a gun to school.
Principal Arthur Adamakos announced the move in an email to parents.
“Although we do not believe there to be any reason for concern, we will have an increased presence at our school on Friday as an added precaution,” Adamakos wrote.
One Memorial parent said she will let her two children attend school today.
“We can’t allow these kids to put our kids in fear at school,” said Maria Brown. She said Adamakos, who has been at Memorial for more than 20 years, knows what he is doing, and is staying on top of the situation.
Adamakos’ emails come during a day of tensions on Tuesday that included videos of assaults at the school cafeteria, firecrackers going off in a bathroom and police taking the unusual step of announcing the arrest of a juvenile at the school.
“As you may have heard, yesterday was a challenging day at Memorial. Within sixty-five minutes, we managed three unrelated incidents at the school,” the principal wrote in the first of two emails sent to parents on Wednesday. The school district provided the emails to the New Hampshire Union Leader on Thursday.
Six hours after the first email, Adamakos disclosed that hard feelings lingered from Tuesday. On Wednesday, school officials learned that “a student made comments that could be interpreted as a retaliatory threat for those involved in one of the cafeteria events.”
The comments spread throughout the school, and a rumor emerged of someone bringing a gun to school on Friday, he said.
“We have identified the student who made the initial comments and have addressed the situation based on the student Code of Conduct,” Adamakos wrote. He said the school will continue to collaborate with Manchester police. The police department did not respond to an email seeking information about their response to Memorial.
School safety data
With 1,400 students, Memorial is the second largest of Manchester’s three public high schools.
This week, the Union Leader obtained unpublished school safety data for the previous school year.
It shows that six Memorial students were disciplined in 2017-18 for violence that resulted in injury, another 54 for violence with no injury. Three were disciplined for weapons possession.
A total of 902 kids were suspended during the school year; all but 27 did their suspension out of school. No students were expelled.
Other suspensions were for categories such as inappropriate language and defiance. The number of bullying incidents totaled 11.
Superintendent of Schools Dr. Bolgen Vargas briefly addressed the issue of violence in city schools Thursday during an appearance at a “Coffee and Conversation” session with faculty and parents.
“It’s an unfortunate situation, and we are working every day to make sure that every day in our schools we provide a safe environment for our kids,” said Vargas. “When we have an unfortunate situation like a fight, and they do happen, rest assured our teachers and principals are doing everything in their power to keep our students safe.”
In the emails, Adamakos uses the term “incident” to refer to events that have been depicted as assaults on videos provided to the Union Leader. He said one incident involved firecrackers in a bathroom and is still under investigation. The arrest took place when the student’s behavior escalated, the principal said.
He gave no information about the other incidents.
He wrote that each of the three cases were investigated and consequences were assigned as outlined by the school Code of Conduct.
“At no time was there a known safety risk for any students who were not involved in the incidents and the school schedule was not interrupted,” he wrote.
Adamakos urged parents to forward any information, regardless of origin, to school officials.
“If you see something, say something. All reported information is investigated,” he said.
He said any information obtained from sources other than the school district or school “is likely to have inaccuracies.”