WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) – Wednesday was the first day students returned to New Hanover High School since shots were fired in the school’s catwalk Monday morning.
A 15-year-old was taken into custody hours after the shooting and another child was transported to the hospital with non-life threatening injuries.
NHHS principal Philip Sutton posted a message on the school website Wednesday evening about the ongoing investigation.
“Any student identified as a participant in Monday’s incident, or any such incident of violence, will not remain on this campus,” wrote Sutton. “We understand returning to school today was not an easy choice, but we appreciate the faith and trust students and families have placed in us.”
Changes implemented to ensure student safety were outlined in the message:
- Student transitions have been rerouted in order not to use the portion of the catwalk where the incident occurred.
- The law enforcement presence on the campus has been increased and will remain that way as long as law enforcement deems it necessary.
- School administrators have and will continue to review duty stations for additional visibility and supervision.
- School and district administrators are discussing additional resources that may be needed to support ongoing safety efforts.
- The district will continue to offer Crisis Team support as long as students continue to utilize these resources.
Sutton emphasized that safety is the top priority.
“Additional changes and resources may become available as they are deemed necessary to safe-guard our students and staff,” said Sutton.
Students described the first day back as heavy, and say many teachers were emotional.
Extra law enforcement was present on campus. Before students departed for the day, WPD officers were seen standing on the lawn of the school and deputies were in and out of the front doors.
Parents waiting in the pickup line shared stories of the serious conversations they’ve had with their teens in light of Monday’s shooting.
Students say classes were full for the most part, and explained their classes focused more on Monday’s shootings, with discussions and opportunities to journal about the incident.
According to a New Hanover County spokesperson, the county’s crisis intervention line, which was staffed with licensed therapists, handled 31 calls over a two and a half day period. Those calls added up to almost four hours of time spent talking to staff and families.
In addition to the assistance over the phone, therapists have been on the school’s campus since Tuesday, providing support and an outlet for staff and students to address the trauma they experienced.
The students leaving for the day appeared to be in good spirits and explained that they were looking forward to a more normal school day from here on out.
The county’s call center shut down Wednesday evening at 5 p.m., but counselors will continue to be on campus.
Crisis Intervention Resources:
- 24 Hour Crisis Chat online via https://www.trilliumhealthresources.org/for-individuals-families/crisis-services/integrated-family-services-crisis-chat
- Step 1: Click the “Chat with us” icon at the top of any of the pages on the Integrated Family Services
- Step 2: Complete and submit the brief pre-chat questions
If all chat specialists are busy assisting other visitors you will be asked to try the chat again in a half-hour. If the chat service is not open we encourage you to call IFS Mobile Crisis.
- IFS 24/7 Mobile Crisis Hotline at 1-866-437-1821
- RHA Mobile Crisis Team EAST – available 24/7/365. Call 1-844-709-4097
Wilmington Health Access for Teens (WHAT) of Coastal Horizons offers medical and mental health services for ages 4-24. They have Primary Care medical providers as well as therapists and Psychiatric Medication providers at their Oleander Drive office. At their Wellness Centers located within New Hanover, Ashley, Laney & Hoggard High Schools, they have both Medical Providers and Therapists. They are currently providing both in-office/school and virtual sessions. There will be a team of WHAT staff at the New Hanover HS Wellness Center to support any clients or parents who are seeking services. Students need legal guardian consent to be able to use the services, and this paperwork can be found on their website or picked up in any of their offices.
To schedule an appointment at any of the WHAT locations please call 910-790-9949.
For any Spanish speaking clients, our Clinica Latina office at 613 Shipyard Boulevard is staffed with bilingual therapists who are also available to support. To schedule an appointment with them, please call 910-343-0145
The National Child Traumatic Stress Network has created a number of resources around school shootings which can be accessed here.
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