Guest Column (7/2/09)

‘Letter of apology’ to students and parents

July 2, 2009

By Justin Rich

On June 3, I made one of the biggest mistakes of my life. What I did put a lot stress and fear in a lot of people’s lives. I knew what I had done was wrong as soon as I handed the note containing a bomb threat to Dan Shepardson.

I feel horrible for my actions on June 3 and wanted to take the time in this letter of apology to say so. Because I am sorry, so, so, sorry for the stress I put on every faculty member of the school, every parent of every child that goes to Champlain Valley Union High School and the stress I put on all of the respondents to my immature threat. I know what I did was wrong in so many ways and I am willing to accept any consequences I have to, to make things better between me and my peers and the community.

Hoax or not, a bomb threat is not something to joke about. I interpreted what the administration was going to do differently than what actually happened and I am very disappointed in myself for even trying to get away with this nonsense of an action and even thinking it through. All the hate and comments I get from my peers through the days is hurtful to me, and listening and reading about what they have to say makes me feel the most guilty, like I should, considering the circumstances that the only one that knew there was no bomb was me.

I’d like to apologize to the students in my school for scaring them and making them repeat a day, making the end of the year that much more stressful. I would also like to apologize to the parents that had to leave work or leave their daily routines to come pick up not only their children but others, too, to bring them home.

I know I scared a lot of people that day and I know a lot of people don’t want me back at CVU and that’s what the handbook says. But CVU has offered me a lot. I know I may not have been the best student they’ve had, but I’ve come to grow close to a lot of people in the school.

I’d like to take time to thank Dan Shepardson, Sean McMannon, Jen Bickle and Officer Silbert as well for handling the situation with me on June 4 in such a respective manner. I’m sorry for the trouble and stress I’ve caused on everyone in these past few days. I feel horrible.

I feel people make mistakes and I happened to make one of the biggest ones of my life during my teenage years. I want to work the hardest to gain back the respect from everyone — from my peers, teachers, rescue and to parents in the community that I have affected.

I also want to do whatever it takes, from hours of community service to numbers of meetings and apologies to the community, to gain back my privilege of attending CVU. I understand if I’m not welcome there anymore, but this school has by far taught me more about who I am than even myself or anyone else has. I’d hate to see myself attend CVU for three years and not be able to graduate with my class. But if that’s my consequence then I will accept it the way it is, because what I did on June 3 was completely unacceptable in so many ways and I am sorry to all people that were affected on that day.

Please forgive me for that trouble and stress that I have caused on all of you.

Justin Rich was a junior at Champlain Valley Union High School when he made a fake bomb threat on June 3. He is currently facing disciplinary action from the school, and has been charged by Hinesburg Police with a misdemeanor count of making false alarms and reports.