Canyon Crest Academy students are taking action after two teenagers’ threats, posted to social media, prompted scary lockdown situations Nov. 20 at their and the Torrey Pines High campuses. Students have launched a campaign called #THINKB4UPOST to remind teenagers that something that takes just a second to send can have big consequences.
“It was a major wakeup call for the ways that social media can negatively affect our lives, but it can also be used for positive purposes,” said senior Katie Simonian, who launched the campaign with senior Gabrielle De Boucaud, her co-anchor on the student news channel CCA-TV.
“Type 11 letters and your life is changed forever,” Gabrielle said.
The pair hosted a special news report on the incident and #THINKB4UPOST on the Dec. 5 edition of CCA-TV. Senior Greg Wolff designed the graphic for their social media campaign, which they hope will spread to teenagers all over via Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. A downloadable poster has also been created that can send a message the old-fashioned way on school campuses.
“It’s really satisfying to see it spread around and see other people use it,” said Greg, a cinema student who specializes in the motion graphics and logos used in CCA-TV.
On Nov. 20, Torrey Pines High, down the street from CCA, was in lockdown for four hours after a threat posted on Yik Yak.
Five minutes before school let out for the day at 3 p.m., CCA students heard the announcement that they, too, were now under lockdown after a post was discovered that read: “I’m coming to CCA with three guns,” with an emoji depicting a weapon.
“It was pretty scary, because I didn’t know if it was an actual threat or not,” Gabrielle said. “We had to just wait in our room and hope that everything was going to be OK.”
The students were kept for 45 minutes.
Mark Raines, the visual arts teacher who oversees the production of CCA-TV, said that as a teacher, it was just as frightening.
“It was very real. The students and adults were very concerned. I’d say it was a great test case for us to see how we do in these kinds of situations and look at what we can learn from the incident,” Raines said.
“As a faculty member, I feel that everything went exceptionally well for that to be our first possible threat like that. With that said, there’s still things we can learn from that day.”
Katie said it’s easy to look back now and see that nothing happened, it was “just a joke.” But she said it’s important to remember that these kinds of posts are a big deal, prompted by someone making a very bad decision.
“In that moment, I was freaking out because these things can happen anywhere,” Katie said. “You never think something is going to happen at your school but it can.”
Gabrielle describes Yik Yak as an “anonymous Twitter”— in the GPS-based platform, people can post relatable items to others within a mile radius.
“People don’t understand — they think it’s anonymous, but the police can track your IP address,” Katie said.
In the case of the two threats, that is exactly what happened. A 16-year-old girl from another school was arrested Nov. 21 in connection with the threat against CCA. The day before, police had tracked and arrested a 17-year-old boy for the shooting threat at Torrey Pines.
“I’m not a fan of Yik Yak, because I don’t see anything positive about it for high school students,” Raines said. “I was impressed with how the students came up with a positive way to respond to what happened on Yik Yak instead of attacking all kinds of social media, because social media can have a really positive impact. This is a great way to use social media to do something really good and helpful.”
On Friday, Raines was encouraging a classroom full of his students to share the CCA-created campaign on their social media platforms.
“Don’t forget the hashtag,” he reminded the students.