Spero News

Facebook Apocalypse shuts down Michigan schools
 
Thursday, December 20, 2012
by Martin Barillas
 

Parents of some 25 school districts in Michigan had to keep their children home after education officials decided to shutter schools due to threats of violence. On December 19, school officials in Grand Blanc (a suburb of Flint) were alerted to text messages allegedly sent by a high school student to his mother that claimed that shots had been fired at the school  The mother called police, who promptly had the school on lockdown while police from four distinct jurisdictions raced to the school. Law enforcement in Michigan was already on heightened alert due to fears engendered by the massacre in Connecticut last week, and because of the coming so-called Mayan apocalypse. 

Due to rumors, schools in Genesee County and Lapeer County in Michigan decided to close down, thus giving children an extra two-days' holiday. Children will stay home on December 20 and 21. They were already scheduled to remain home as of December 24 in observance of Christmas. 

Parents of the elite Genesee Early College, which is sponsored by the University of Michigan-Flint, were called after 9 PM on December 19 to confirm that no classes would be offered on December 20-21. The doors of all schools buildings in Clio, a town just north of Flint, were also closed. In addition, Michigan State Police were investigating a complaint allegedly that a Lakeville MI high school student planned to bring a firearm to class.

Lakeville School Superintendent Vickie Luoma sent a letter to parents on December 18 about a threat reported on the previous day. "A student reported that another student made comments several weeks ago about the end of the calendar (some call this the end of the world," read the letter. The missive continued, "The student reported since the world is ending anyway on the Friday before Christmas he would bring a gun to school and shoot people." Genesee County law enforcement met on December 19 to discuss threats related to the 'end-of-the-world' hype.

“Given the recent events in Connecticut, there have been numerous rumors circulating in our district, and in neighboring districts, about potential threats of violence against students. Additionally, rumors connected to the Mayan calendar predicted end of the world on Friday have also surfaced,” a letter from Matt Wandrie, Superintendent of Lapeer Community Schools said. “These rumors of violence have been thoroughly investigated and determined to be false. There have been no credible threats made against any of our students.  However, these rumors have been a serious distraction for students, teachers, administrators, and parents. Therefore, given the significant disruption to the teaching and learning process, I have decided, along with my fellow superintendents of Lapeer County, to cancel school for both Thursday, December 20th, and Friday, December 21st,” the letter said. In addition, all after school extracurricular events, programs and athletic contests and practices are also canceled.

Wandrie’s letter said that while the rumors widely circulated in social media are unsubstantiated, school officials decided to cancel school because it is ”the most appropriate decision given the gravity of recent events and our present circumstances.” Other Michigan districts, such as Detroit suburbs Fraser and Livonia, had put extra police officers near schools.

The Mayan calendar, which was developed more than two thousand years ago in the jungles of Guatemala, concludes one of its cycles of time on December 21. While people all over the world to observe what some believe to be the end of time, modern Mayans are observing it as just another milepost in an endless treadmill of time. Mayan elders in Guatemala, for example, expressed anger and consternation that their national government and many non-natives have misunderstood or misappropriated their culture for material ends.



Spero News editor Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat, who also worked as a democracy advocate and election observer in Latin America. He is also a freelance translator.


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