Hopkins Academy, police: Students safe after lockdown

By SCOTT MERZBACH

Staff Writer

Published: 05-03-2023 8:30 PM

HADLEY — Hopkins Academy students and staff sheltered in place on April 24, the second time such a precaution was deployed in recent weeks, as both school officials and police are assuring the community that Hadley’s schools are safe.

Superintendent Anne McKenzie and Police Chief Michael Mason wrote in a letter to the community following last month’s incident that there was no weapon on campus or in a students’ possession when the latest shelter in place occurred. A previous shelter in place occurred on April 14, the last school day before April vacation.

“Upon investigation, we do not believe there was ever an imminent threat to the school,” McKenzie and Mason wrote. “We understand how unsettling a shelter in place can be for a school community.”

Mason wrote in an email that the building was searched both times.

“In both incidents, officers used all of the information available to search everywhere that a weapon might be located, based upon the specifics of the call,” Mason said. “All of the areas, lockers, and rooms which were pointed out to us as possibilities of unsupervised access, were thoroughly searched.”

The letter from McKenzie and Mason goes on to note that the school department is in contact with its attorney to determine what information can be shared with the community, and when that can happen.

“HPD and the school department will continue to take necessary steps to ensure the safety of students and the community in accordance with applicable laws and police and school department protocols,” they wrote.

Mason said the decision to shelter in place or issue a lockdown order is not taken lightl.

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Hopkins Principal April Camuso penned an email to students about the required police presence at Hopkins that accompanied the shelter in place directive.

“Please know that all district policies, including collaborating with Hadley Police, have been followed in responding to these incidents,” Camuso wrote. “Hadley Police and district and school administration believe you are safe at school.”

Camuso observes that students have been sharing what they know with each other and on social media, though doing that is not permitted while in the classrooms.

“However, teachers cannot allow students to discuss other students,” Camuso wrote, referring those who want to discuss the topic to meet with a counselor instead.

“We understand that we are living in a time where a heightened concern for violence in our society is normal,” Camuso wrote. “The anxiety that you may feel as a result is also understandable, but we want to say again that you are safe here at school.”

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