Bartlesville parents, students mostly support cancellation
BY ZACK STOYCOFF World Staff Writer
Thursday, December 20, 2012
12/20/12 at 3:39 AM
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BARTLESVILLE - Devin and KayDee Davis' former school in Colorado had a permanent garrison of security guards.
When the sisters learned that authorities had foiled a mass shooting plot at Bartlesville High School, they feared that the their new home might become more like their last.
"We just don't want to go back to that," said Bartlesville senior Devin Davis, 18. "To me, Oklahoma's always been safe. The only thing you should have to be worried about is wild animals."
Bartlesville students and parents had mixed reactions Wednesday to news that a possible threat had closed the district's schools only days after a high school student was arrested in connection with the earlier plot.
Sammie Eaglebear Chavez, 18, is accused of planning to lure students into the high school's auditorium and shoot them with an assault rifle. He was arrested Friday.
Police said Wednesday that the latest threat stemmed from reports that someone was spotted with a rifle on high school grounds after school Tuesday, although they said the people may have been hunters.
Administrators canceled school Wednesday, the district's last day before winter break.
Dalene Fisher, whose son Spencer is a high school junior, said she strongly approves of that decision - if only because it gives fearful parents more time to calm down.
The shock surrounding the timing of Chavez's arrest - the same day that an elementary school shooting in Connecticut killed 26 - has lingered for many parents who initially wondered whether the two incidents were connected, she said.
"In light of what is happening in Connecticut, you're wondering if this is a nationwide thing - a string of attacks on schools," she said. "My first reaction was to immediately start texting and calling Spencer."
She said the city continues to be on edge but that parents need to remember that "nothing really happened."
"I don't think my family feels the great share of fear that a lot of others seem to be feeling," she said. "At the end of the day, every single day he steps out the door is an act of faith."
Kimberly Doenges, who has a son in the sixth grade, said canceling school Wednesday likely caused more fear but that she would rather "be safe than sorry."
"You can't run around being panicked all the time," she said. "We just need to be vigilant and listen and pay attention to what students are doing."
Beau Sparks almost didn't believe an online news report about Chavez's arrest Friday.
Sparks, who is home-schooled but also attends Tri County Technology Center, recognized Chavez as a familiar face on campus. Bartlesville High School students often take classes there or visit friends, he said.
"When I saw his picture, I was like, 'Whoa,'" he said. "A lot of other students were really surprised, too."
He said it later felt odd "talking with some students I knew who could have been targeted."
The Davis sisters spent part of their day off at the city's Washington Park Mall. They said they simply would like life to return to normal.
"A school is supposed to be a safe place," said KayDee Davis, 15. "It shouldn't be a place where you're scared to go."
Bartlesville police Capt. Jay Hastings said normalcy should return during the spring semester, which begins in January, but he cautioned that "I don't know what normal is" after the recent incidents. Police plan to maintain an increased presence at the high school for now, he said.
"In Bartlesville and across the nation, people are kind of in a panicked state right now," he said.
Original Print Headline: Parents support canceling
Zack Stoycoff 918-581-8486