Lessons learned from Green Bay East shooting plot still relevant

GREEN BAY, Wis. - It's been eleven years since three teenagers devised a plan to open fire at Green Bay East High School.

Guns and homemade bombs found inside a home, all for a planned attack that never happened. That's all because one student spoke up.

"It was a comfortable feeling knowing that all the time and the engagement we had with students, that one of the students had stepped up and let us know what was happening," said Lori Frerk, principal of Green Bay East High School.

Frerk was a teacher at the time of the planned attack.

Matt Atkinson was the student who told police about the planned attack. He's been awarded several times over the last eleven years for going to police and potentially saving hundreds from that planned attack.

Eleven years later, others are learning the same lesson. It's a lesson in dealing with problems and finding out about them through communication.

"It's amazing how many things have been prevented, not obviously to this scale of what we've been talking about, but just different fights or different drugs that have been located in schools or different weapons, fights, things like that because students now feel comfortable talking to us," explained Det. Jeff Brester with Green Bay Police.

School resource officers said the number of problems within school walls have declined in recent years. They credit a new approach taken by school administrators, but technology makes keeping up with kids harder.

"The way kids are nowadays, there's ways of hiding things, through their different cell phone apps, there's hidden apps, even for parents, if you look at your son or daughter's cell phone there are secret apps where you can hide things, and we don't know about it," said Det. Brester. 

But there's always a way of getting back on track.

"They might mess up, is that a way of just throwing them to the curb and saying you're done?" asked Frerk. "Or do you take what they had and work through a process with them so they recognize, oh, that's an error on my part or oh that's an error that should have been corrected?" 

The three men arrested for the plot have been released from jail. NBC26 did reach out to them but they did not respond.

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