The student news site of Highlands High School

The Hilltopper

The student news site of Highlands High School

The Hilltopper

The student news site of Highlands High School

The Hilltopper

Signs and Signals: Teen takes action at Mariemont High School after indicators of hostility were presented by fellow student

Mariemont School logo.

Among many means of communication, people see this in the news, hear from friends and family, or even in the worst of cases experience this firsthand. School shootings are truly always in the midst of the American lives of students and parents alike–yet there is pride and faith in school resources, safety measures, and ultimately in the entire community that stands to leap into action. 

The most crucial in this, however, is the articulate minds of those always aware and conscious who are able to spy the particular signs and signals, perhaps skeptical, and alert those in charge. 

In January of 2024, local Mariemont High School in Cincinnati, Ohio came fearfully close to a sure tragedy–still under very close-mouthed discretion.   

When a 14-year-old Mariemont High School student, whose name is still unrevealed, was reportedly working in tangent with a relation met online, planned a mass shooting of at least eight fellow students and a teacher at his local high school. 

However, the accused was abruptly stopped, just within the week of the planned attack by fellow student, Bloom Swallen, who found his behavior skeptical and somewhat precocious; acting upon this instinct and alerting authorities with help from his dad. 

ABC News notes that this mysterious social media conspirator, helping the troubled student, was never met in person, this was an online relationship only. 

“I want them dead really soon,” was said by the accused and was retorted with a text by the alleged conspirator saying: “I got you bro.” ABC News highlights these shocking text messages. 

According to University of Cincinnati Psychologist and Social Media expert, Nancy Jennings: “More of an emphasis should be placed on media literacy and digital literacy for kids,” in such a time when media exposure is starting at such a young age and many harmful effects exploited upon due to overuse and overexposure. 

She ends by saying that rather than restricting access, these kids should be briefed on how best to use devices and media in moderation. The overuse is how these kids are being affected, emotionally as well as drawn into dangerous and unhealthy situations.  

This online contact shown by the conspirator was severely frightening for Mariemont High School Freshman, Nileen Samara. The amount of true secrecy and the unknown nature of this investigation were the biggest fears.  

Samara said: “The worst part was not many people knew what was happening and who the adult was online… there were just a ton of rumors which was even worse, I had one class with him but really could not have expected this,” 

She added that the accused seemed funny and jovial in the classroom and found it hard to believe what he was truly capable of, but knew others who thought him a bit “weird.”

Similar feelings are presented by a Mariemont resident and mom of two enrolled in the Mariemont City Schools: “You never think it’s going to happen to you, and when you do it’s just a whirlwind, but we are so lucky we escaped this when we did and are eternally grateful to those who stepped in at the last minute.” 

She noted that she never would have thought the media had the power to contribute to such harm and is continually questioning how to go about cell phone use, “You want to think your kids are mature enough to handle these devices and give them freedom as they get older but when you see things like this it makes you think again about those decisions and their future possible damages.” 

This begs the question of how one can tell if someone is in a dark place, especially when in certain situations when that person seems to almost entirely shift personalities. 

According to HHS Resource Officer, Zac Rolfer, fellow students and kids can be actively looking for behavioral signs, no matter how small they may be. 

I think that truly preventing these issues will always come from students themselves,” said Rolfer. They are the ones who will know if another student is talking about or acting on concerning behaviors

Rolfer continued: “As adults, police, and administrators, there are lots of safety measures that we put in place to prevent issues like the one we are talking about here, ultimately prevention will come from people speaking up who have insights into what is going on.”

As the whole Mariemont community prepares to mend, there is still much unknown and openness of this issue.

As said by Alex Zmina, Director of Education at Mariemont schools, because this is an “active investigation” they are “unable to answer press questions at this time on the issue.” 

Despite this, he portrayed the true urgency of the situation and the necessary restrictiveness of this episode as the Mariemont community as a whole, heals and learns from this nearly devastating shooting. 

Highlands Journalism honors these requests and hopes for a safe and secure recovery for the whole Mariemont community.

Leave a Comment

Comments (0)

All The Hilltopper Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.