One high schooler's online talk of the Mayan end of days caused village police and school officials to initiate an investigation to publicly dispel rumors that there could be violence at Ridgewood High School this Friday.
The high schooler had posted a message on Facebook that Dec. 21 would lead to the end of the world, according to Ridgewood Police Chief John Ward. Officials declined to offer specifics but Ward said investigations determined the student's musings were "fantasy based" and did not express "any direct threat" to students or the school.
The student's statements about the Mayan calendar circulated on other students' social media accounts, where rumors spread that violence – possibly a school shooting – would be coming to the school on Friday.
The joint investigation by police and school officials didn't quiet talk around the community, however, and school officials needed to go a step further.
"It was dealt with a couple days ago and the rumors kept on going and going," Ridgewood High School Principal Thomas Gorman told Patch on Wednesday.
Rumors made the original message much worse, Gorman said, and the principal eventually decided to write a letter to parents to squash rising anxiety.
"The students are all safe here at school," he wrote to parents Wednesday. "To alleviate anxiety in light of last week's events, the police are maintaining a presence in all Ridgewood schools."
Tensions are high in towns across America following the Newtown, Conn. school shooting that left 20 students and eight others dead last Friday.
Ridgewood Superintendent Daniel Fishbein, speaking on the Sandy Hook shooting, said Monday that Ridgewood can't be "paralyzed by fear" and must return to normalcy.
"We need to keep a clear head and identify children at every level who have anxiety based on the events of the past week," Fishbein said. "We have to make sure the children see us as brave and strong and making sure...we can to bring some normalcy to a really unreal situation."
Police and school officials would not discuss any potential disciplinary action the student who wrote the message might face, as he's a juvenile.
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