Rumors that a Shenendehowa sixth-grader had a gun at a district dance on Friday, Sept. 28 were untrue, district officials said Tuesday, Oct. 2.
The sixth-grade dance was held in the district's white gym, nearest the entrance to Koda Middle School. It was sponsored by the Gowana PTA. Acadia, Koda and Gowana are all connected on campus.
At approximately 9:15 p.m., the Gowana assistant principal was disciplining a student because the student was attempting to walk home from the dance, which is forbidden by district policy.
Other students formed a crowd outside the gym as the principal spoke with the student. After the principal asked the students to disperse and go back in the gym, students started a rumor that the student outside had a gun.
Some students allegedly panicked and called 9-1-1, and state and local police arrived. It was determined that there was no weapon, and no arrests were made.
"Part of the issue is that kids panicked," district official Kelly DeFeciani said.
"There never was a thought on the part of the administration that there was a gun. This was a student-created rumor."
DeFeciani said that the district has a great relationship with the police, who responded immediately.
Teachers and administrators discussed the incident with students on Monday, Oct. 1.
"We talked to students about the fact that adults are there to help them, and they need to listen and follow directions and trust that the adults there will provide them with directions on what to do in an event that something like this happens," DeFeciani said.
Twenty-two adults chaperoned the dance, along with a school administrator and security officer in accordance with district policy.
A majority of the district's 700 sixth-graders were at the dance, which ended at 9:30 p.m.
"Typically, the dances are held in the white gym," DeFeciani said. "We have dances that are building-level dances, which are sixth through eighth-graders, and tri-building dances which are just one grade level."
"Ultimately, safety is our No. 1 priority, and students and parents play a crucial role in this partnership," the district wrote in a letter sent to parents on Monday. "We appreciate your support in working with your children.""