SACO — Thornton Academy remained closed to students Friday, extending a shutdown that began Thursday after school officials received a threatening phone call. The school was already scheduled to begin a two-week holiday break at the end of the school day.

“Due to the ongoing police investigation, Thornton Academy has canceled classes for Friday as a precautionary measure, Headmaster Rene Menard said in statement posted on the school’s website. School will reopen as planned on Jan. 5.

The school received a telephone threat early Thursday that led initially to a lockdown and then to an evacuation of the school and cancellation of classes and after-school activities.

“At no point did we believe our students were at risk,” Headmaster Rene Menard said during a press conference at the school’s fine art center. Police determined the threat was not credible, but students were sent home as a precaution, the school said in a prepared statement.

The threat came at a time of heightened anxiety triggered by a threat-induced shutdown of schools this week in Windham and Raymond and a shooting at a home in Saco early Thursday morning.

“My daughter texted me: ‘If I die, I love you,’ ” said Sharon Corbeil, whose daughter is a freshman at the school.

Police are closing in on a suspect, said Police Chief Bradley Paul.

Police hope to determine where the call came from to identify the person responsible, Paul said. “It’s pointing us in a particular direction. We’re working to flesh out that information.”

Paul confirmed that a bomb threat was made in a telephone call to the school.

Paul said it is too early in the investigation to determine whether the threat was prompted by threats against Windham and Raymond schools, which were closed for three days this week in response to threatening emails.

School safety experts had warned that other schools would be likely to experience copycat threats. It is one reason experts say such behavior must be punished – to prevent such acts in the future.

Thornton Academy is a private school that serves as the high school for public school students from Saco, Dayton and Arundel. About 90 students live in dormitories on campus. Those students were confined to the dorm while the investigation continued, Menard said.

Saco’s other schools were put on “moderate lockdown” after the threat, officials said. The lockdown was lifted once the high school students had been released.

The threat, called in to the school staff, was specifically directed at the high school.

Parents received a text early on from the school alerting them to the lockdown and telling them not to enter school grounds. State and local police were visible throughout campus, said parents. Students were sent home at 9:15 a.m.

“They searched the whole school for any bombs,” said Melanie Saccuzzo, whose daughter is a freshman at the high school.

Saccuzzo said the shooting on Hillview Avenue Thursday morning leapt to mind when she received the text. She did not believe at the time that it was a coincidence.

However, Paul said police are confident the two incidents are completely unrelated.

Given other instances of school violence, Paul said the incident was dealt with appropriately and with an abundance of caution that shows that student safety is the most important priority

“None of us wants to looking back at this saying they wish they had done something different,” he said.

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