‘We have to have that see something, say something mentality’

Social media threat puts school on shelter in place during 4th period


Photo by Cambry Gerardi

Sophomore Brisa Roberts sits in front of her computer taking a look at the anonymous reporting tool used to notify administration about incidents that may cause harm to the Bellaire population. The reporting tool is located in the Bellaire website under the Student Directory.

As students in a largely populated school in one of the biggest cities in the U.S., gun violence is a commonly occurring issue.

“Gun violence is a very frustrating thing because there’s clear solutions,” Spanish teacher Trevor Boffone said.

On Sept. 13, an online threat regarding gun violence was posed, targeting Bellaire High School.

“What was posted online is very serious,” Principal Michael McDonough said. “I think the legal term is considered a terroristic threat. It’s anything that is meant to cause fear.”

The entire school population was put into a shelter-in-place status from the start of Cardinal Hour at 12:24 p.m. until dismissal at 4:10 p.m.

“Our teachers immediately went to bat and did exactly what we needed them to do,” McDonough said.

In January of 2020, an incident regarding gun violence resulted in the passing of 19-year-old Cesar Cortez.

“It’s a day I’ll never forget. This is my 10th year of being principal here. Nobody’s ever going to forget that day,” McDonough said. “That was a day when our most valuable tools failed us.”

School was in session just two days after the incident.

“Teachers can only do so much,” Boffone said. “We have to create a culture of caring for our students and protecting them.”

He said that every time he walks into a new classroom, he looks around for possible evacuation routes in the event of an active shooting.

“Those are the things that you think of that you shouldn’t need to think of,” Boffone said. “As a teacher I think about it every day, because it’s the world we live in… when I was a student 20 years ago, we didn’t really worry about guns.”

According to Boffone, a threat made online with little credibility should be taken just as seriously as a threat spoken out loud.

“At the end of the day we just don’t know. It only takes one time of it being real,” Boffone said.

McDonough wants students to not be afraid to speak up when they see something worth bringing to the attention of the administration.

“We have to have that see something, say something, mentality,” McDonough said. “That is how trust is built, through time and action.”

Mr. McDonough said he wants parents to feel confident that their kids are safe here on campus.

“Everybody who I’ve hired onto this team, and who is a part of this school, I have to trust that we’re going to do the right thing, that we know what the right thing is, and that we know how to do it,” McDonough said.

Dr. Boffone encourages students to put their own comfort first.

“You have to talk to somebody about what you see and hear and not be afraid of being called a snitch,” Boffone said.

If you see something that could put the safety of a student or staff member at risk, please use the anonymous reporting tool located in the Student Directory on the Bellaire High School website.

“We have to lead with empathy and kindness,” Boffone said.