What started as a normal morning at Belvidere North High School — quickly changed.
An early 9-1-1 call, claiming a safety concern for the school, prompted a massive police response at Belvidere North, Central Middle School and Seth Whitman Elementary. All three schools going into a hard lockdown around 8:30 Thursday morning.
“[Our] teacher took us into a corner, we hid for about half an hour,” said Belvidere North sophomore Ryan Crane. “For about the first hour or so, it was almost dead silent. About half an hour later, everyone started talking. The air in the room, it wasn’t really scared but more of a ‘why is this happening?’”
School officials said students weren’t allowed to leave their classrooms until police could finish its search. One by one, officers and school administrators entered each classroom.
“They had to pat us down, boy, girl,” said Belvidere North freshman Haley Gordon. “They pushed us out into the hallway. They checked everything through our backpacks.”
After waiting more than four hours for answers, students say they were relieved when the lockdown was finally lifted.
“There was so many rumors,” said Gordon. “It was just really scary. Especially for a freshman [like me], who doesn’t even know the school well enough.”
Parents impatiently gathered at the former Shopko until they were able to pick up their kids.
“With this only being the third day of school, it’s scary,” said Belvidere North parent Troy Habben. “We have to go all the way to next May.”
Belvidere School Superintendent Daniel Woestman gave an emotional update at the end of the school day.
“I have kids just like many of you do,” said Woestman. “It’s something that I think about on a regular basis.”
Students say now, the schools will do their best to move past the ordeal.
“It probably wont go away for awhile,” said Crane. “But really it’s just the atmosphere is still business as usual.”
Superintendent Woestman says school will resume as normal Friday.