Graduation set Friday for PHS class of 2016

Mike ErwinJournal-Capital

A school-related threat posted on social media May 18 brought a rapid response from local police.

The situation reportedly stemmed from a student’s post which showed a stick figure carrying a gun. Referring to the posting, investigators said “a threat had been made regarding school on Thursday.”

Pawhuska High School’s annual awards assembly was scheduled at 10 a.m. in the school field house, where there also was to be an afternoon awards ceremony for sixth- and seventh-grade students.

After police contacted school officials, consultations were held before a decision was reached “to go ahead and have school on Thursday, with enhanced security measures in place,” according to an explanation posted on the school district websity by local Superintendent Landon Berry.

Berry said the security measures would include “having representatives of the Pawhuska Police Department present at school.” The superintendent’s bulletin went on to say: “During this entire time the school has fully cooperated with law enforcement” while adding “the school appreciates all of their (the PPD’s) efforts in this matter.”

The note concluded with the following disclaimer: “Because of the ongoing investigation by law enforcement, the school will not comment further.”

District parents were notified about the incident and given the option of keeping their children home from school on Thursday. Berry had prefaced the website bulletin with the statement: “The Pawhuska School District takes the safety of its students very seriously and does everything it can to provide a safe learning environment.”

By the time Thursday’s Pawhuska High School Awards Assembly started, the student who allegedly made the threat had been taken into custody. Nonetheless, more than a half dozen police officers and representatives of the Osage County Sheriff’s Office were standing by near the inside and outside entrances to the high school field house.

Although attendance at the high school was about normal, Thursday afternoon’s afternoon assembly for sixth- and seventh-graders was rescheduled for Monday. No classes were scheduledFriday, which had already been designated as a snow day.

The last day of classes for PHS seniors was Wednesday, and the school year will end for all other district students at the conclusion of classes on Thursday. A high school talent show is slated to start at 9:30 a.m. Thursday.

District teacher check out is set for Friday, and a graduation ceremony practice is to be held at 8:30 a.m. at Ormand Beach Memorial Stadium. Afterward, at around 11 a..m., First Baptist Church will be hosting the annual senior breakfast. (First Baptist had also been the host site for Sunday evening’s baccalaureate service.

Commencement ceremonies for PHS’s 2016 graduating class is to get underway at the stadium at 7 p.m. Friday. The class is expected to include 55 members — including the valedictorian, Karissa Hughes, and salutatorian Stephanie Clifton. Weather could cause the event to be moved inside the field house.

Friday’s forecast information provided by the National Weather Service put the possibility of showers and thunderstorms at 40 to 50 percent, under mostly cloudy skies with south winds at 10-15 mph but gusting as high as 20-25 mph. The daytime temperature is expected to reach 80 and an evening low is at 63.

Class of 2016 honorees Hughes and Clifton played key roles in yet another PHS academic accomplishment. According to an announcement made at Thursday night’s All Sports Senior Banquet, the Lady Huskie tennis squad — for which the seniors are the No. 1 and No. 2 players — has been awarded the state’s “Distinguished Academic Team Award.”