The third bomb threat at Homestead High School since January 2016, occurring April 6, mercifully turned out to be a hoax, but of course all the protocols had to be followed once officials found the message “I am blowing this (expletive) up at 1:00 sharp.” scrawled on a bathroom wall in the school.
That meant closing and evacuating the school at around 12:30 p.m. Police came in, did a sweep and the all clear was sounded at about 3:30 p.m. with no bomb found.
But, still, damage was done.
A junior varsity girls soccer game with Menomonee Falls was postponed, but the major casualty of the mean-spirited gesture was the North Shore Conference co-ed indoor track meet the Highlanders were hosting.
In the end, the meet simply had to be canceled, inconveniencing and ruining the plans of many, including perhaps the classmates of the threat-maker, those who had worked hard in practice and wanted a gauge of where they stood in relation to their peers at other schools.
It was a jerk move by the threat-maker.
The meet was scheduled late in the indoor cycle because of the late Easter date this year (April 16). As a result, conference schools had spring breaks that ranged all over the map, from very early to way late. Normally, the North Shore splits the girls and boys meets at two different sites, but with the schedules the way they were (Homestead is on break this week), the meets were consolidated for convenience.
In this case, the great inconvenience as a great deal of coordination and work went down the drain. Area programs Homestead, Germantown, Whitefish Bay, Nicolet, Cedarburg, Grafton and Port Washington were affected by the cancellation.
"We were as ready as we ever were and the athletes were ready, too, but safety had to take priority," Homestead girls track coach and assistant athletic director John Krueger said. "It was unfortunate on so many levels."
Yes, safety had to take a priority, but man, this dumb kid, who as of Monday still had not been caught, had lousy, lousy timing.
With the outdoor season starting this week and a number of schools going on break at the same time, a desperate effort was made to see if everyone could come back to the building later that night after the all-clear was sounded.
"We even told the kids to stay near their phones just in case," said boys Homestead coach Dan Benson. "John (Krueger) worked so hard to get it rescheduled."
But that evening reschedule wasn't going to happen. A Friday, April 7 alternative date also came apart because the ever busy Homestead Fieldhouse was booked up for a weekend basketball tournament.
Besides, by that point, many more of the athletes and their families would have gotten their spring break plans fully underway.
"You're just reminded of the logistics of trying to put together something like this around spring break," said Benson. "The volunteers, the workers, the concessions, the timing system. Once something like this happens, it just gets very difficult to put it all back together again.
"So no "Triple Crown" (including league relay and outdoor meets) for anyone this year."
And that truly stinks, because this meet would have been a great showcase for state championship level athletes such as Shon Pratcher of Germantown (jumps), Camille Davre of Bay (distances), David Dunlap of Nicolet (sprints) and Drew Bosley of Homestead (distances).
Opportunities to see those great kids in action are few and far between in the short, weather-dependent spring season, and it's just wrong for something like this to happen.
It happened previously at Homestead in January 2016, the evening before the Highlander wrestling team's big scramble invitational, another labor intensive event which would have been impossible to reschedule.
"It (the tourney) did go on because the threat was made the night before, and they had located the culprit and knew there was no threat by 5 a.m. the morning of our tourney," said wrestling coach Ernie Millard. "We got lucky."
Another threat was made in October 2016, and again, nothing was found, but again, an infinite amount of people had plans disrupted because someone found it funny to scare the hell out of the school.
We live in an attention-hungry world right now, where every grievance, no matter how slight seems to need attention right away and often with horrible consequences. It takes away from the items that really do need our attention. The Syrian Civil War, religion-based terrorism, the growing gap between rich and poor worldwide, increasing gun violence and the threat of climate change, among others.
What could help is a simple reinforcement of something we all learned as kids, but seemed to have forgotten:
The Golden Rule. "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you."
That applies to politicians of all stripes, bullies, internet trolls and even disaffected individuals whose girlfriend (or boyfriend) broke up with them and those who forgot to study for the morning's test.
Actions have consequences, and a lot of hard work and good intentions can virtually get blown out of the water because someone is having a lousy day.
Think before you act. Talk with someone you trust before you do something stupid and will regret later. Don't let simple impulse and emotion ruin everyone else's day simply because you're having a bad day.
It's a big world, with a lot of problems and we all need to get along to make it work.