COLTON - Colton-Pierrepont Central School and the surrounding community experienced an extreme scare back in March, when two teenagers drove on school grounds and one of the young men rolled down his window and waved a rifle in the air.
Now, nine months later, school officials are holding a special assembly where the two Potsdam High School students involved in the incident will be talking to school and community members about what they have learned from their mistakes in an effort to prevent a similar occurrence of happening in the future. Students in grades 7 through 12, as well as parents and teachers, are invited to the assembly.
Connor I. Warden and Sawyer M. Pignona will give their court-ordered presentation from 8:30 to 9:30 a.m. Friday, in the school auditorium followed by an active shooter drill under the leadership of the New York State Police later in the day.
Were hoping for a significant community and parent participation. We think we have a lot to learn from these mistakes, CPCS Superintendent Joseph A. Kardash said. This was a large event in a small town, and we think there is a lot to learn from it.
The active shooter drill will take place from noon to 3 p.m.
Weve been working to schedule the active shooter drill for six months. We managed to get it for this Friday. This was coordinated with state police Sgt. Chad Niles, Mr. Kardash said. That will include a pre-meeting, a lock down drill, an assigned intruder and police on site to find that intruder. We will see what processes we can improve on. The police will also see what processes they can improve on. (New York State Police Captain) Mike Girard helped us move into a priority list that allowed us to get in on a day that fit our half day schedule.
The school hopes that parents and community are able to come and participate in the assembly in the morning.
Warden drove Pignona to the school at 3:50 p.m. March 18, where Pignona brandished the weapon from the car window, sending the school into an immediate lock down.
Both teens pleaded guilty this summer in St. Lawrence County Court to criminal possession of a weapon on school grounds and were placed under one year of interim probation. Pignona also pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor count of second-degree menacing.
It was the result of a plea bargain agreement reached July 9 between their attorneys, school officials and District Attorney Nicole M. Duve.
St. Lawrence County Judge Jerome J. Richards told Warden and Pignona that conditions of their one-year interim probation term would include community service in the form of a 25-to 30-minute presentations to be given at all consenting school districts in the county. This time frame was reduced from the original one hour that was agreed upon in the plea deal.
For every school that elects not to participate, 25 hours of community service will be imposed.
Both teens have a no-contact order of protection against them requiring that they not come within 1,000 feet of the school, unless given specific instructions otherwise by Mr. Kardash.
If Pignona and Warden successfully complete their interim probation, they will have the chance to have their felony pleas vacated, plead guilty to misdemeanor charges and be sentenced to probation for 3 years.
Because of their age, they may also be considered for youthful offender status at the discretion of the court.
Their sentencing is scheduled for Sept. 15, 2014.