Stepped up security is in place at one Fairfax County, Virginia, high school this week after a series of fistfights led to a threat on social media.
Robert E. Lee High School Principal Deirdre Lavery sent several emails to parents informing them of the incidents and detailing the response.
Students told News4 the fights had been going on for a few weeks.
"People getting jumped, three on one," replied senior Joey Poole when he was asked to characterize the fights. He said he wasn't too alarmed by the incident. "I don't really care too much because it's usually during class. People are doing it in the hallways or after school, so I feel safe."
But some students said this week their fears increased this week when there were also threatening words posted on social media along with a picture of a gun.
"It had me really worried. It was like, 'Do I really want to come to school if there's going to be a threat?'" said Sonia Carcamo. "I'm trying to get my education and then there are threats."
Other students said they suspect the threat wasn't serious.
"I think it was meant more like a joke," said senior Aaron Myers. "I think the school took it pretty serious and brought enough security to take care of it."
Students said they saw a group of students placed in handcuffs after one of the last fights this week. A Fairfax County police spokeswoman said no charges had been filed yet.
About 200 parents attended a regularly scheduled PTSA meeting Wednesday night to learn more. After the meeting, Lavery sent an update email outlining the response for the rest of the week, which includes additional security, and additional supervision at arrival, dismissal, and during all transitions and lunch periods.
"I will address the students to assure them they are safe and that we will be vigilant in maintaining a safe and orderly educational environment," Lavery wrote.
Students said the added police officers and Fairfax County School security personnel calmed nerves.
"There was definitely lmore security around," Myers said. "There were about 10 police officers and security in the cafeteria when I was at lunch. That was a pretty big help."
Students said the principal addressed them Thursday, urging them to bring an end to the fights.
"She was just pretty much saying that we need to stop the fighting, we're all in this together, we go to the same school, we should all be friends," recalled Carcamo.
In her email to parents, the principal also credited students. "I applaud our students who came forward with pertinent information that allowed us to quickly address the incidents we experienced," wrote Lavery.
The school atmosphere had returned to normal Thursday, students said. The two week holiday break that begins Monday will also help calm concerns, they said.