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School Threat Anxiety

Students at Greater Johnstown School District headed back into the classroom Thursday morning.

That’s after classes were cancelled the last two days due to “school shooting threats” made towards the district.

“We’re here for them. We just want to make sure we calm their anxieties and fears without downplaying it, because it is a thing of the world.”

That’s what Greater Johnstown High School Behavioral specialist Tony Penna Jr. said when school resumed.

Authorities say two juveniles were arrested Wednesday morning in connection to the threats made to the district earlier this week.

Law enforcement cannot say where the suspects currently are “since it’s a juvenile case,”

Although, officials are reassuring students and parents that they should no longer worry about these particular individuals.

Cambria County District Attorney Greg Neugebauer wrote to us in a statement saying quote:

“Law enforcement will continue to do everything we can to ensure the safety of students, teachers, administrators and visitors to our schools. The juveniles involved in this week’s incidents are not currently a threat to the school district.”

In a world where school shooting drills are just as common as fire drills, mental health professionals say talking about your feelings is key.

Greater Johnstown students started the morning in their homerooms talking about the threats with their teachers and peers.

Penna says this is better than just sweeping it under the rug and pretending like it never happened.

“This is a little bit of a different world we live in. There are different threats and scares. You never want to say, ‘Hey, everything is going to be okay.’ You just want to hear them out. You want to let them know that we have a lot of resources here. You want to try to calm their anxiety, and say, ‘Hey, listen, this is a safe place,”

For students who are feeling anxious, Penna says to practice focusing on the safety measures that are already in school.

For Greater Johnstown, that’s metal detectors, wanding, school resource officers, and building security.

“School is a safe place. The people in all of the different schools with the school resources officers they’re all working really hard to make sure school is always a safe place,”

Most importantly, he says to trust the people working in the building to take the fear out of learning.

“These are real and legitimate worries. Everybody has to take them seriously. But there’s a lot of people working in a lot of different districts to make sure that these schools are extremely safe,”

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