It's 8:45am on Wednesday morning. As I get closer, I can
feel the stares from people driving by, as they watch in disbelief.
I enter the school and there is a quietness about the hallways
that sends shivers down my spine. After grabbing my books,
I shut my locker door and the sound of metal hitting metal echoes
down the empty hall. Another student who is passing by jumps
at the sound. This wasn't the scene a couple days ago, when
Oakwood Collegiate's principal, Tony Kerins came on the P.A.
system. He explained the situation as it stood. Someone had
written a threatening note on the towel dispenser in the boys'
washroom. We were then informed that there would be police patrolling
the school all week, and that we should try to continue "business
I had heard about the threat before his announcement, but
the fact that police were involved was a surprise. Regardless,
I, along with most of my peers, went about our day as we always
do, waved to the officers as they strolled by, and weren't very
concerned about the threat. That week was Spirit Week and with
all the events that were planned, we were happily distracted.
I considered it a prank and tried to put it behind me, as
did many others. After all, we'd heard about threats like this
at other schools before, and nothing had ever materialized.
We weren't about to let fear ruin our Spirit Week, even though
the threat had been directed at Friday's lunch-time talent show.
No fear. That is, until the 6:00 news.
Word got out, and that evening, Oakwood was the top story
on every television & radio station. Some called it a "massacre-threat",
while others were labeling Oakwood the "next Columbine".
A situation that had been under control was now being totally
blown out of proportion. Parents started to worry, grandparents
and family friends starting phoning (y'know, to see if we were
alive and all) and the panic spread.
Now, here I was, a couple days later, sitting in a classroom
of only 6 students, discussing the situation at hand because
no one could concentrate on actual schoolwork. Business
as usual' had ceased to exist.
Article after article, broadcast after broadcast, the facts
were being exaggerated and the situation made bigger than it
really was. A fairly cut and dry event was being sensationalized.
"It's unfortunate that threats like this are a common
occurrence at any school, but now, it's news," said Fallon
The more news coverage, the more we, the students, become
"The media is giving this kid exactly what he wants,
attention and the fear of students and the community," remarks
Rachel Jacobs, 19.
Still, many Oakwood students are more concerned over their
school's image, than the threat of violence.
"Our school is, in my opinion, one of the safest high
schools in Toronto," commented Andrew Hines, 19, "and
unfortunately this isolated incident is giving people a mistaken
impression of Oakwood."
Hines' opinion is a common one throughout the student body.
Later in the week, when reporters appeared at the school's doorsteps
looking for reactions, they didn't get what they expected. Students
were more interested in protecting their school's reputation,
and many told interviewers to leave Oakwood alone.
But do we feel safe?
"I am distressed that there is somebody in this school
community who is so frustrated and disturbed that they would
make threats against their peers just to get some attention,"
said Student Council president, Rachael Bedard. "I am not
afraid that they are going to go through with what they wrote,
I am just upset that there is such ignorance among members of
the student population."
The general feeling is one of caution, but still disbelief.
"It bothers me that someone could think that this kind
of prank is funny," admits Hines. "I'm not really worried
that any violence will occur, but it's still unsettling, and
everyone is a little on edge."
Despite the media attention, Oakwoodites are sticking together.
I, like many, refuse to allow myself to become a victim
neither a victim of violence, nor a victim of fear. We are a
united school, and if anything, this incident has only brought
us closer together.
"These past few days' experiences have reinforced my pride
in being an Oakwood student," proclaims Bedard.
We are all proud to be Oakwood students.