North Bethesda Middle School lockdown

Sophie Becker

More stories from Sophie Becker


WJ poms team members gleam after their complicated trip o North Bethesda Middle School to recruit new poms. from left to right, Saige Passard, Olivia Cardoni, Ali Becker, Julia Beato, Neda Changuit, and Yolita Baretto.

Many teams at WJ spend time visiting the middle schools that feed into Walter Johnson to try and encourage  students to join their teams in the fall. This is an important visit for the teams because it allows them to give a great first impression of not just the team, but the WJ community to the incoming students. The WJ poms team visited North Bethesda Middle School to get a grasp of which students may want to audition for their team. The team’s visit was quickly interrupted by events taking place at North Bethesda requiring everyone to shelter in place.

One North Bethesda student, around 11:30 am threatened to hurt themselves and other students. The school’s administration responded quickly and called in the Crisis Center to assist the student appropriately. The school went into a Shelter-in-Place to prevent movement through the school and increase student safety.

Shortly after this event the poms team arrived at North Bethesda and were not allowed into the building yet due to the commotion inside the building. The team was under the impression that this was because of the previous event, but in fact, another situation had rose.

After students were excused from the seventh grade lunch block a student was reported to have yelled the word “gun” in the hallway, the context is unknown, and the whole school went on a Lockdown. The North Bethesda principal AnneMarie Smith reported to the school’s community, “A staff member heard this and promptly moved students into classrooms and notified administration. The school went into lockdown at approximately 12:15 out of an abundance of caution. MCPD and members of our security team were on site and quickly determined that the threat was non-credible. The lockdown was lifted.”

The poms team had arrived at North Bethesda during the Lockdown and were forced to stay in their cars, they were given no detail as to why the school was under lockdown. Junior captain Ali Becker was not impressed with the lack of information given to the team.

“It was very still from the outside, nothing seemed off but when we pressed the button to ask to go inside they told us to leave and ‘get out’,” Becker said.

The team did not leave immediately, they stayed in case they needed to help get kids out of school property.

“Five minutes later about four police cars showed up [the police were] holding huge guns and we got back in the cars and waited to make sure no kids needed to be evacuated from the school,” Becker said.

Throughout the situation, the team was not given the proper information to chose to stay or leave, the team stayed in the cars they took to the school and did their best to contact people in the school to get any information.

“I felt alright throughout the whole situation. I was mainly confused because everyone was telling each other different stories,”sophomore Yolita Barreto said. The team was able to go back into the school and have their interest meeting with the eighth graders after the lockdown was lifted. The school’s principal reminded the community later in the evening that the school followed all the protocols and everything went as planned. No students or staff were harmed in the school.

“I want to thank our partners in the Montgomery County Police Department for responding quickly to our school to ensure student safety. All students and staff are safe and we have resumed our normal instructional day,” Principal Smith said.