Children Terrorized by Gunman in School “Exercise”
Imagine the terror your child would fear if suddenly a masked man brandishing a handgun showed up in
Now imagine your outrage as a parent to find out that this was actually an “enrichment exercise” by the
school – and they failed to notify parents ahead of time of this exercise.
This is exactly what occurred at the Eastern Wayne Middle School in Goldsboro, NC. Students sitting in
sixth grade classrooms were told there was an armed robber in their school. The man was actually a
school employee wearing a ski-mask and holding a toy handgun.
The ‘robber’ entered each of the sixth grade classrooms, waving his handgun, pretending he was going
to rob the children. Although the person was only ‘play-acting’, many of the children thought the
situation was real and become upset, some even crying. Parents didn’t find out about the exercise until
after the fact and many were upset.
The school sent out a letter to parents, apologizing for the event. Part of the letter reads:
“As part of an enrichment lesson on exhibiting good citizenship and observing your surroundings,
another staff member entered the sixth grade classrooms and pretended to steal an item while dressed
in a ski-mask and holding a toy pistol. Even though the play-acting caused some initial concerns, once
the skit was completed, the teachers quickly explained who the person was and that the ‘theft’ was not
Many parents question the school’s judgment in exposing the children to such an experience, especially
in light of all the recent school shootings that have taken place.
The school district’s public information officer Ken Derksen released this statement:
“It obviously did lack that sensitivity that was needed…all of our schools work very hard to promote a
safe learning environment…in this situation, the exercise in its original intent was appropriate, but in
how it was executed it obviously lacked judgment.”
According to Derksen, someone was supposed to walk into six classrooms, grab something off a desk in
each and leave. The students would then discuss how to respond.
Emergency Film Group’s Active Shooter: Rapid Response covers the key topics in preparing for and
responding to a mass shooting. The film also offers guidance for school officials and emergency
operation centers. Organizations of all kinds, in 39 states and abroad, are using the film to prepare –
often showing the film to start an exercise involving schools and the emergency response community.
To learn more, read here. . .