Students Dupe Community, National Website with 'Tiger Scare'
After students evacuated South River for the second time in a week, some teens decided to turn the event into a playful "news" prank.
When students evacuated the school on Thursday due to a fire alarm—the second evacuation of the week—students speculated why they were once again being taken out of class. Earlier in the week, an unidentified odor caused administrators to pull the fire alarm. Thursday's alarm was pulled after a dryer malfunction. However, this time, the students decided to have some fun with it later that night.
Using Tumblr, students created a fake news website called “Anne Arundel County News and Alerts,” similar to the popular Facebook page “Anne Arundel County Breaking News and Events.” On the site, they created a completely false report, describing the circumstances surrounding the "tiger incident" on Thursday, including quotes from students.
Some of the quotes included “I saw the tiger with my own two eyes,” and “I never expected to see something like this at the school,” according to the Tumblr site.
Following its publication, students and the community flocked to Twitter and Facebook in response to the bizarre but ultimately fabricated “news.”
Dozens tweeted out their disbelief while concerned parents contacted Edgewater-Davidsonville Patch, asking for clarity on the “developing story.” The report looked so authentic that even Elite Daily, a national pop culture website, picked up the story and ran it as a true event.
Ultimately, students not in on the prank served as whistle blowers, discrediting the report and laying rest to any hysteria the “news” may have caused. Some people thought seniors at the school brought in a tiger as a prank, but it appears the real prank was the fake news in and of itself.
Anne Arundel County Public Schools spokesman Bob Mosier said he only got two calls regarding the "tiger scare," one from a reporter and one from a parent.
"I was pretty confident that we did not have a tiger loose in any of our schools. This is one of the side effects of social media," Mosier said. "You'd like to hope folks would trust the school system to know we would let them know there was a tiger loose in the high school."
Students at South River told Patch via text messaging about the incident after the news report broke.
“Yea it was all a fake. They made up that news report thing. They got a few people to get in on the joke and everyone believed it,” said one student.
Read below to see the full “news report” posted by students at the school.
EDGEWATER, MD— Students and faculty were forced to evacuate South River High School earlier today, causing much confusion. While the source of the evacuation was said to be caused by a dryer malfunction in the cafeteria, many conflicting stories have arisen.
Of those stories, the one with the most validity, confirmed by multiple sources, is that of a full-grown Sumatran tiger. The tiger was said to have been spotted in the hallways by South River faculty. The cat wandered into an empty classroom where it was trapped by administrators. The alarm system was activated immediately afterwards to safely get students out of harm’s way.
“I never expected to see something like this at school,” said an anonymous South River faculty member. “I’m just thankful we were able to control the situation before anyone got hurt.”
It is suspected that this was part of a senior prank that got out of hand. Administration is thought to have claimed a dryer malfunction as not to bring light to the actual situation. No word yet on how the tiger was acquired or brought to the school premises.
Administration attempted to keep this under wraps, however, when some students caught wind of what truly happened, they took to social networking to spread the word.
“I saw the tiger with my own two eyes,” said South River senior Brian Foley, “It was horrifying.”
The tiger was sedated by responders and safely removed through the back of the school, near the CAT-South building. Despite the dramatic events of today, South River High is still open and operating on a normal school schedule tomorrow. No confirmed reports as of now as to the current status of the tiger.
Did you believe there was a tiger at South River? Be honest!