SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

January 11, 2014

Smooth Friday at St. John's Prep despite threat

BY ETHAN FORMAN
STAFF WRITER

---- — DANVERS — The day came and went without incident at St. John’s Prep yesterday, after a week of precautions following two threats scrawled on a bathroom wall that indicated there might be trouble on Friday.

Security measures put in place earlier this week, including a stepped-up police presence on campus and a ban on backpacks, will continue next week, however.

In an email sent yesterday to the St. John’s community, Headmaster Ed Hardiman and Principal Keith Crowley said school “ran smoothly again today. Our administrative team, faculty and staff, and the Danvers police did a truly wonderful job of being accessible and visible throughout the day. Their presence, and the usual pattern of classes, helped create a sense of normalcy on campus.

“In the spirit of bringing the community together on a positive note, we treated students to lunch today, and that proved to be a very popular decision.”

There have been no additional threats. Police and school officials declined to detail the specific nature of two threats, one found before Christmas and the second found this past Monday.

About 1,150 boys attend the Catholic prep school, run by the Xaverian Brothers, which draws students from the North Shore and as far away as southern New Hampshire.

“We have been in daily communication with our parents and we are today as well,” said Beth Forbes, St. John’s managing director of marketing and communications. Students seemed to be taking the added security measures on campus in stride, Forbes said.

More stringent security measures were in force yesterday, including the closing of the Student Commons.

“The difference today is there is an increased police presence on campus and there is a single point of entry into the buildings,” said Forbes. “I think that everyone has been ... very understanding about the circumstances.”

Some parents kept their kids out of school yesterday, she said, and those students will be given an excused absence.

She also said the Danvers police have been “extraordinarily helpful.”

Police Chief Neil Ouellette said the matter is still under investigation. “We will vigorously investigate it because we want to get to the cause of the problem,” he said.

Staff writer Ethan Forman can be reached at 978-338-2673, by email at eforman@salemnews.com or on Twitter at @DanverSalemNews.