The A-Blast

A confounding lack of communication

Noah Fitzgerel, Editorials Editor

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The comments on the bomb threat story and poll on The A-Blast website say it all: those who were responsible for dispensing information to the concerned AHS public this morning failed miserably.

Driving into the H-Mart parking lot across the road from AHS thirteen minutes before school began, my first impression of the scene was one of utter confusion. Exiting my car and soon learning that a bomb threat had been made against the school, I was glad that the administration and Fairfax County police officers had diverted traffic so as to protect the community.

However, that was solely a temporary impression.

I had conjured said impression with the supposition that the bomb threat had been made an hour or so earlier. Once I learned that the threat had been made at 4:30 a.m., I was shocked, as was the rest of the AHS community.

I understand the magnitude of the great strains administrators and police officials were forced to endure through the six hour ordeal. However, I am taken aback that the community had to rely exclusively on information from The A-Blast in place of information from official governmental bodies such as FCPS or the AHS administration.

Why is it that the school could not have issued a mass phone call to homes in the three hour window it had between the issuance of the threat and the arrival of faculty and staff to advise community members to stay home? A simple “all-call,” comprised of a simple mandate to stay at home would have sufficed.

However, the lack of issuing such a notification caused an upset not only in the lives of AHS students and faculty, but also in the lives of parents. Many of my friends complained of the confusion parents faced when an “all-call” instructed parents, many of whom were at work, to pick up students if so desired. More troubling, however, was the fact that a phone call to the main office at AHS was returned with an automatic message responding that the office was closed, without offering an avenue for concerned AHS community members to follow in the pursuit of receiving more information about the status of the school.

Between police officers instructing me to return home and administrators insinuating the same message, it is no surprise that I drove by my house three times this morning. I can only imagine the confusion of those who were stranded on buses moving between TJHSST, Braddock and Annandale Terrace Elementary within a two hour period.

Plainly, 9 a.m. was too late for the AHS administration to issue the first official call regarding the nature of the bomb threat at AHS. Why did Keep In Touch (KIT), and Apple 21 neglect to publish information as it came in?

At this point, thankfully, the sole lesson to draw away from today’s events is that FCPS and the AHS administration need to improve the manner in which they inform students, faculty and parents about the nature of emergency events. Just as with any emergency, it is now time to learn from mistakes.

About the Writer
Noah Fitzgerel,

Over the past several years, I have garnered an insight into the rarity that characterizes AHS that I think would be quite appropriate to share in my last...


2 Responses to “A confounding lack of communication”

  1. CJ Sidener on March 31st, 2012 8:56 am

    I agree with this article. FCPS and the AHS Administration could have done a better job. My house is just two blocks from the campus, and I work just up at the street at the Annandale Petco. Much to my suprise I found out through teachers that I knew when I was a student at the High School (I graduated in 2007), what was going on.

    FCPS and AHS should always keep the student safty at priority.

  2. Tricia on March 31st, 2012 10:37 am

    Great job Noah! You summed everything up perfectly

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A confounding lack of communication