WILLMAR — Principal Paul Schmitz said the day was going smoothly at Willmar Senior High on Friday.
The school was the focus of rampant rumors this week, partly the result of tensions over the school shooting a week ago in Connecticut and partly because of end-of-the-world predictions connected to the end of the Mayan calendar. The rumors were fueled by social media.
Police and school investigations did not uncover any actual threats to the school or its students, officials said earlier this week, and school went on as usual. Parents were urged to send their children to school.
“It's been a great day at Willmar Senior High,” Schmitz said in a telephone interview Friday.
Phone lines had been down for about a half hour in the morning, but that was a problem with exterior lines that was repaired by the school’s service provider.
Staff met students with candy canes in the morning, and the day was going well, he said.
The school did have a significant number of absences on Friday, more than the 100 or so that might be expected for the last day before Christmas break, Schmitz said later in the day. While parents had talked on Facebook about keeping their children home on Friday, Schmitz said he didn't want to speculate as to the reasons students were gone.
Contrary to social media rumors, the school did not prohibit visitors on Friday, Schmitz said. He did, however, post a sign that said academic/parent visitors were allowed but social visitors were not.
The day before break is a time when recent grads often stop by to visit with old friends and teachers, and it disrupts the day, he said, so the school did limit such visits. Other visitors were allowed into the school as they are on any other day.