Homecoming was interrupted by a bomb threat at Smithville Elementary School Friday.
When the office at SES received an automated call that there was an explosive device on campus, school staff reacted quickly, evacuating the building and calling busses to transport almost 600 students to Northside Elementary until the threat could be investigated.
According to Director of Schools Patrick Cripps, the staff of both schools, along with Transportation Director Jimmy Sprague and his staff are to be commended for their decisive responses to the situation.
"I received a call from Smithville Elementary School that a call had been placed to the school saying that there was an explosive device was on the school premises," Cripps said. "At that point, Attendance Supervisor Joey Reeder accompanied me to the school. Principal Julie Vincent and Assistant Principal Anita Puckett had already evacuated the building, and after talking with the administrators we decided to evacuate the students to Northside."
He said that thanks to the cooperation of all involved, it only took seven-and-one-half minutes to evacuate the students.
"It was an amazing thing," Cripps said. "I called Transportation Supervisor Jimmy Sprague, and within seven and a half minutes the last student was on a bus headed for Northside."
While a rash of bomb threats at schools across the mid-state negated the availability of bomb-sniffing dogs right away, Cripps said a walk-through of the school was conducted, but nothing suspicious was found. Once the animals became available, the school was thoroughly searched, and was re-opened for classes Monday.
"It was a great effort on everybody’s part," Cripps said of the staff. "Everybody pulled together, and I can’t stress enough how well it worked. The administration, faculty, and staff at Smithville Elementary and Northside, the school bus garage, the sheriff's department, Smithville Police Department, and Smithville Fire Department Constables Johnny King and Mark Milam, and the TWRA all did a great job. The cafeteria staff at Northside took on an entire extra school for lunch, and handled it with no trouble. I am very grateful to have such good people to work with."