During an active shooting incident in Manchester Friday morning, police secured Manchester Central High School while searching for the suspect. That search led them to deploy a SWAT team near the school. The high school went into secure in place at 11:00 a.m. Manchester police officers were present as students inside the school remained in their classes for the rest of the day. The campus at Central has multiple buildings, and students were not allowed to change classes from 11 a.m. on. Ultimately, police made the decision not to release students at the usual dismissal time as students would have to pass through the active scene around the school.
Students and staff waited more than five hours beyond the regular dismissal bell before they were bused to Hillside Middle School beginning at about 8:15 p.m. Parents spent much of the day huddled not far from the high school, talking with other parents or in communication with their children by cell phone. The last bus delivered students to Hillside at 9:45 p.m. Central educators and staff continued to stay with their students at Hillside to help students find their families, and then going home to their own families at 11:00 p.m. finally closing a very long school day.
Manchester Mayor Joyce Craig, whose daughter is a freshman at Central High, was at Hillside last night waiting to be reunited with her daughter. She released the following statement:
“I want to thank the men and women in the Manchester Police Department who worked throughout the day to ensure the safety of our community. I’d also like to thank the teachers, administrators, staff and students at Manchester Central High School for your patience during this long afternoon and evening. To the parents of CHS students and residents of the Manchester community, thank you for your understanding. I know I’ll be hugging my CHS freshman a little tighter tonight, as I’m sure hundreds of other parents will be as well.”
“Throughout the entire ordeal, the educators at Manchester Central were rock stars,” said Sue Hannan, Manchester Education Association (MEA) president, who was in contact with many teachers and administrators throughout the evening. “The professionals who work at Central come to work every day because we put students first. Today, the entire city of Manchester saw first-hand just what that means. Keeping students calm and safe, maintaining order, finding activities to pass the time, providing snacks, and even sharing k-cups proves what we already know – that Manchester educators are there every day for their students, no matter how long that day lasted.”
When the students had to evacuate the high school to go to Hillside, Manchester support staff worked both sides of each corridor checking each room to be sure all students were accounted for and made it out of the building safely.
“It is important to note that no one panicked,” said Cathy Gagnon, support staff member at Central High School. “We all listened to the people in charge from the Manchester Police Department and our principal. The well-being of our students was everyone’s top concern.”
“One person who deserves a lot of credit is our nurse, added Gagnon. “She was all alone and had kids who needed medications. Parents were calling and she did an awesome job. She was exhausted by the end of it all.”
“I could not be more proud of the educators in Manchester than I am right now!” said Megan Tuttle, NEA-NH President. “Parents across the state entrust their children to us every day. From the moment they step onto the bus to go to school, until the moment that bus brings them home, caring, dedicated educators do everything they can to make sure parents can hug their children each night. Manchester educators, support staff, and administrative assistants showed us all tonight just what that dedication looks like.”