November 15th: The Student Experience

Photo Credit: Bella Awbrey

I think for most of us in the KHS community, the events and subsequent outcomes of November 15th have been confusing to process and difficult to forget. Here at The Herd, we knew we wanted to publish pieces about the events of that day. While other articles may address the situation more holistically and broach the subjects of the action, inaction, and overall response, my hope for this article is to provide a representation of the thoughts and feelings of the student body; I’d like to try and put into perspective how we as students in Maine share some of the same thoughts and concerns as students who have experienced similar events across the country.

While overall, the events of November 15th seemed to have blurred together for me, there are certain feelings that I had throughout and after that remain distinct. The first feeling I remember was a sense of shock. It almost felt like I was frozen in time, with updates coming in minute after minute, and the two hours in the hold in place feeling simultaneously like the longest and shortest two hours that I’ve experienced. I can’t really remember the thoughts that were going through my head during the hold in place, and overall there was almost a feeling of numbness. So much was going on around me, and yet I didn’t know what was true at Sanford or if we were under threat. 

I spoke with other members of the KHS community, who shared their thoughts and feelings of the events of that day. The following are excerpts shared by KHS students about their thoughts and experiences:


“Overall, I was just shocked. You hear about these things, but never think that they’ll happen to you. Since Sanford is relatively close to us, it really puts things into perspective; this is very real and could happen to any of us. I was a little shaken up and just wanted to go home and give my mom a hug or just have the comfort of being home with her. Listening to the rumors being spread about fake death counts and statistics really shook me and just blew me away. I just couldn’t believe it. I will say that I think my peers and I were very level headed in the moment and handled it well, which I appreciated.”


“I was mostly shocked about the events of November 15th because I found out about it later and wasn’t really aware of the situation until I met with my friends and heard that the statistics being spread were false. I think being at Sanford would be terrifying, especially knowing that there were so many people throughout the building, and not knowing what was happening to them or if they were ok.”


“I think the situation in Sanford was a scary experience for everybody. Even though it (thankfully) was a hoax, it certainly didn’t feel like it at the time. We got called into the hold in place at the end of first block, but it wasn’t until after second usually starts that everyone’s phones collectively exploded with messages and news about a shooter at Sanford. Because of the Voc Program, a lot of our friends and classmates were there at the time, and although the shooting wasn’t real, the lockdown and evacuations were. 

I think at KHS, we all dealt with the news differently. For me at least, after the initial shock faded, the biggest thing to deal with was boredom. I was in a science room that was adjoined with another teacher’s, so there was a lot of back and forth through there. There also was Netflix, and the periodic glance at the news (or snapchat), but other than that we mostly sat quietly, waiting for the all clear from admin. 

I think the response from admin that day was really half-hearted. I don’t doubt that they had concern for students, but they really seemed to fail to act on it. I was one of the many people who chose to leave as soon as the hold in place ended, and it really frustrated me how that whole situation was run. We had to physically sign out and provide parental consent before leaving the building, resulting in a line that stretched from the main office, across the lobby, and down the main hall.”


“I was mostly sad and a little scared. I was sad for the kids at Sanford because I thought that it was legitimate. The specificity of each statistic made me think that the threat was probably real. I was also pretty scared because I was worried we were also going to be targeted. I didn’t really know what was happening, but I appreciated being in Ms. Carlson’s class. Not only because her class is fun and she’s comforting to be around, but also because I know that she speaks honestly and openly with her students. I knew she would give us any information or updates that she received, which I appreciated. As time went on and we learned it was a hoax, I became more and more relieved. I just wanted to go home to my loved ones.”

In the days after the events of November 15th, the main thought that remained at the forefront of my mind was how much events like these hurt people around the country. I couldn’t shake the feeling that if so many people in our community were hurting and having to cope with something that was ultimately a hoax, those feelings must be mirrored every single day by communities nationwide. November 15th is unfortunately an example of how our school may respond in the event of a true emergency. It’s important to recognize that despite the threats perpetuated being false, the feelings that we’ve experienced after the fact as a community are valid and normal.