HILTON, N.Y. (WROC) — Leaders at the Hilton Central School District are emphasizing support resources available for students and staff after a string of fake emails threatening pipe bombs sent shockwaves through the district and community.

Officials are emphasizing available support resources for students and staff. And even though the threats were deemed by law enforcement to be a hoax, the feelings that come with those situations still has an impact.

“I think for students recognizing, that given their developmental age, credibility of a threat doesn’t necessarily mean a lot to them. They don’t really necessarily understand the difference between a credible threat and a non-credible threat so they’re feeling that lack of safety and security just based on what they’re hearing,” Thornton explains.

Following the initial emergency evacuation from the first hoax email threat last Wednesday, the district had its mental health team clear their calendars as much as possible for counselors to be on-hand. Hilton is also part of a consortium with neighboring districts and the county, called TIG, or Trauma Illness and Grief.

“It’s both a training that prepares school staff to respond to community crisis and then it’s also a network of responders that are available to help from one District to another in the face of crisis,” says Thornton.

It has been a spectrum of responses and needs from students and staff following amid the ongoing threats, which occurred Wednesday, Friday and Monday. Some people thrive on getting back to a routine which can help them feel safe.

“And then we have other students and staff, based on their own previous experiences, or potential other existing difficulties with anxiety or other mental health conditions that really are triggered by this and unfortunately need that additional support,” says Thornton.

A majority of the mental health team as well as several administrators have been through the TIG training program. Hilton also added additional security for arrival and dismissal and throughout the day as an added layer of support. Additionally, the Safe Schools Helpline is available 24/7 for anyone in the community who may see or hear something concerning. That helpline can be reached at 1-800-418-6423 EXT. 359.

Thornton adds, feelings can ebb and flow, you may not feel you need or want support one day but then decide to give it a try. Ultimately, she says, it’s okay to seek help.

“These are difficult times we’re going through, and they seem to be compounded by other things going on in the country and other communities with the unfortunate school shooting in Tennessee; just that compounded stress of crisis builds up and people might not realize it at first but all the sudden they might reach that point where they really need help in dealing with it and we want you to know we’re here for you,” she says.

Other partnerships include Rochester Regional Health, and the The Center for Youth which has its own 24/7 Help Line, answered by a staff person: 585-271-7670. Young people and others who are seeking a safe place to connect are encouraged to call the line day or night.

The Center for Youth also has a new LGBTQ+ Group on Fridays at 905 Monroe Ave. It is open to the community within two age groups:

  • 12-16-year-olds meet from 4:00 p.m. -5:00 p.m.
  • 17-21-year-olds meet from 5:00 p.m. -6:00 p.m.