Parents wait as students get off a bus and then file inside at Mt. Desert Elementary School in Northeast Harbor on Tuesday, Nov. 1, 2022 Credit: Bill Trotter / BDN

A lockdown was put in place at Mount Desert Island High School on Tuesday afternoon. 

The order was issued around 12:30 p.m. after a serious threat was reported, according to the Town of Bar Harbor’s Facebook page. A few hours later, students were bused to the Mount Desert Elementary School in Northeast Harbor to reunite with their parents. 

A Bar Harbor police dispatcher said that the lockdown was a “precautionary measure” and that students were okay.

Members of the island police were at the school to investigate on Tuesday afternoon. 

Details about the nature of the threat were unavailable Tuesday evening.

Late Tuesday afternoon, parents gathered on either side of the Mount Desert Elementary School entrance as buses dropped off students, who walked straight inside the building. Parents kept a wide berth from the bus dropoff lane and did not talk to the students as they filed inside.

The mood was subdued as groups of parents talked to each about what they knew, and about other things unrelated to the lockdown. 

Parents were told no students would be dismissed until they had been transported from MDIHS to the elementary school in Northeast Harbor. 

As of 4:45, buses were still pulling up every few minutes and students were filing inside.

Paul Saltysiak of Bar Harbor, whose son is in ninth grade at the high school, said he and other parents were notified by text and email around 1 p.m. of the threat. He said they were told right away that students were safe, but it took some time to find out how the situation was being handled.

He said his son called him after about an hour to tell him he was okay.

“He called me on a classmate’s phone,” Saltysiak said. “He was fine. I was in the Army for 30 years, and he was an Army brat, so disruptions don’t faze him easily.”

Jim Willis, a Bar Harbor parent who works at the local YMCA, said he drove by the high school on his work and saw that they weren’t letting cars in, but he didn’t think much of it. But then he found out about the lockdown when a Y staffer called him.

At around 3:15 p.m., parents were notified they would have to travel to Northeast Harbor to pick up their children there.

Saltysiak and Willis were among a throng of parents gathered outside the elementary school, waiting for their children to be released. Parents were divided into four lines, arranged alphabetically, and had to have their IDs to show to school officials before they could leave with their sons or daughters.

Some children clearly had been stressed out by the experience, giving their parents long hugs after they started to emerge from the elementary school gym around 5:30 p.m. But others seemed to take it in stride. One mom, who did not want to be identified, said her daughter had texted her for information while she and her friends were waiting at the high school to be bused to Northeast Harbor.

“She wanted to know our Netflix password,” the mom said.

Some of the parents, though they knew the threat had not escalated to any violence, still were rattled by the experience.

“That was not fun,” one father said as he held his child’s hand and walked off down the street.

The other elementary schools on the island did not go into lockdown and students there were dismissed at their regular time, according to emails from the district.

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Bill Trotter

A news reporter in coastal Maine for more than 20 years, Bill Trotter writes about how the Atlantic Ocean and the state's iconic coastline help to shape the lives of coastal Maine residents and visitors....

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Leela Stockley

Leela Stockley is an alumna of the University of Maine. She was raised in northern Maine, and loves her cat Wesley, her puppy Percy and staying active in the Maine outdoors.