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Pennsylvania school district officials cancel classes over potential threat

Officials in a school district in Pennsylvania decided to cancel classes for Friday after an alleged threat was found at a high school.

>> Read more trending news

The Greater Latrobe School District announced that a note was found in a bathroom at Greater Latrobe Senior High School, school officials said.

The note was scribbled on a bathroom wall and mentioned Friday's date. 

>> Teen’s warning thwarts possible school shooting in Vermont

School leaders do not think it's credible, but are canceling classes at all five schools in the district as a precaution.

Texas superintendent threatens suspension for students who protest gun laws

A superintendent in a Texas school district near Houston threatened a three-day suspension for any student who walks out to protest current gun laws, the Houston Chronicle reported.

>> Read more trending news

Needville Independent School District Superintendent Curtis Rhodes sent letters to parents and posted on social media that an out-of-school suspension would be enforced. Students nationwide have been protesting in the wake of a mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida last week that left 17 people -- including 14 students -- dead.

>> Armed Stoneman Douglas resource officer ‘never went in’ during shooting

"Life is all about choices and every choice has a consequence whether it be positive or negative. We will discipline no matter if it is one, fifty, or five hundred students involved," Rhodes wrote. "All will be suspended for 3 days and parent notes will not alleviate the discipline."

Rhodes said notes from parents would not make a difference, The Washington Post reported.

“Respect yourself,” Rhodes wrote, “and please understand that we are here for an education and not a political protest.”

Student organizers in Florida are planning a March for Our Lives on March 24 in Washington, D.C., the Chronicle reported. A National School Walkout planned by Women's March organizers is set for March 14. A walkout is also scheduled on April 20, the 19th anniversary of the 1999 mass shooting at Columbine High School in Colorado. 

Rhodes said the school district is sensitive to violence in schools, but stressed that the students’ focus should be on education and not political protests, the Chronicle reported.

"A school is a place to learn and grow educationally, emotionally and morally," Rhodes wrote. "A disruption of the school will not be tolerated."

The message was originally posted on Needville High School’s Facebook page but was taken down, Time reported. Screenshots of the letter were shared via social media.

Rev. Billy Graham chose John 14:6 to be placed on his grave marker

Before his death, Rev. Billy Graham chose one of his favorite Scripture verses from the Bible to be placed on his grave marker.

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Graham selected John 14:6 and the following inscription to be on his marker:

BILLY GRAHAM

NOVEMBER 7, 1918 – FEBRUARY 21, 2018

PREACHER OF THE GOSPEL OF THE LORD JESUS CHRIST

JOHN 14:16

John 14:6 reads, “Jesus answered, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.'”

>> Evangelist Billy Graham dies at 99

The verse was central in Graham’s preaching ministry, and he often referred to it throughout his life.

Graham will be buried next to his late wife, Ruth Bell Graham, who died June 14, 2007.

The couple’s caskets were designed and built by inmates at the nation’s largest maximum security prison, Louisiana State Penitentiary in Angola, Louisiana.

>> Photos: Billy Graham through the years

While touring the correctional facility after preaching there in 2005, Graham’s son, Franklin, saw caskets being built. Inmates at Angola make caskets for other inmates who cannot afford to buy one. Franklin was moved by this and requested that inmates make caskets for his mother and father.

The caskets are made of plywood and lined with a mattress pad. A wooden cross is nailed to the top of the casket. The Graham family requested no upgrades to the plywood casket, only a few modifications to allow the casket to be transported easily.

Teen’s warning thwarts possible school shooting in Vermont

A high school junior in New York may have prevented an 18-year-old man from carrying out a shooting last week at a Vermont high school, the Poughkeepsie Journal reported.

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Angela McDevitt, 17, who attends Arlington High School in Lagrangeville, New York, said she was trading Facebook messages with Jack Sawyer of Poultney, Vermont, when he said that he planned “on shooting up” his former high school in Fair Haven, something he had been considering for two years, the Journal reported.

“I was very conflicted on what to do because this was not the Jack that I knew in person,” McDevitt told the Journal.

>> Hundreds of students walk out in mass protest

McDevitt decided to bring the Facebook messages to the attention of a school official. Sawyer was arrested on Feb. 15, WPTZ reported. He pleaded not guilty the following day  on charges that include attempted murder.

According to court documents, Sawyer bought the gun at Dick's Sporting Goods in Rutland, WPTZ reported. The alleged rampage was planned for March 14, according to court documents.

>> Student arrested after allegedly threatening shooting at Vermont high school

McDevitt told the Journal that she met Sawyer when both were residents at a residential treatment center in Maine.

“He was just a very kind person when I knew him,” McDevitt told the Journal. “I was very sad. I was very conflicted but I knew that I had to (report Sawyer’s messages) because it was a matter of lives at hand. It wasn’t a matter of just hurting someone’s feelings.”

Police: Student was punched, spat on before dorm stabbing

A Georgia State University student walked up to another student, spat on him and punched him before the suspect stabbed him multiple times in a university dorm, the school’s police chief said Thursday.

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University and Atlanta police responded to a call about the fight Tuesday, GSU police chief Joe Spillane said.

Nakia Roach was found in the the laundry room of a dorm with multiple stab wounds. He was taken to Grady Memorial Hospital in stable condition. The other student, Sean Rowtham, was located by police in the dorm lobby and detained.

“After interviewing witnesses,” Spillane said, “it was determined that the two males know each other and had an ongoing dispute. The male who was stabbed was actively looking for the male who stabbed him.”

When he found him, Spillane said, Rowtham was holding a knife at his side.

Rowtham took the knife out as soon as Roach walked into the laundry room, but he didn’t hold it in a threatening way, according to the chief.

“Roach is about twice as big as Mr. Rowtham,” Spillane said.

Rowtham has been charged with aggravated assault in the incident. Roach has been charged with simple battery.

Some Ohio school districts arm staff, but don't tell public 

Several school districts in Ohio have armed staff and teachers in an effort to prevent school shootings, but some of those districts have not told parents, students and taxpayers about the firearms in their buildings.

>> Read more trending news

On Wednesday, President Donald Trump said that if one of the victims, a football coach, in last week’s Florida school shooting had been armed “he would have shot and that would have been the end of it.”

The move to arm teachers is growing in Ohio, even if the public has no idea.

In August 2017 some superintendents said they are aware of districts that have armed staff and teachers without making the move public.

“It’s way more prevalent than people realize,” Mad River Schools Superintendent Chad Wyen said. His district trained and armed employees last year. “Sixty-three out of 88 counties in Ohio have a district with a response team.”

While some details — types and locations of weapons and names of trained staff — are undisclosed as part of Mad River’s safety plan, the mere fact that students and parents know guns are in the building is more information than other Ohio districts provide publicly.

“We decided to be transparent,” said Chris Burrow, superintendent of Georgetown Exempted Village Schools in Brown County, east of Cincinnati, in a 2017 interview. “We went to training this summer, and there were districts that did not tell their communities.”

The superintendents did not specify which schools they knew implemented gun training but did not tell the public.

Burrow’s staff follows a path already blazed by Edgewood City Schools in Butler County, which adopted a concealed carry policy in 2013.

Superintendents who have armed their teachers and staff have largely expressed positive results.

“We had others that just had a lot of questions, especially people who are hesitant around guns,” Burrow said. “I did have a few staff members who said, ‘I don’t know if I can work here.’”

“We worked through it,” he said. “They weren’t as adamantly opposed as they were before.”

Four years after bringing guns into Sidney City Schools, Superintendent John Scheu said more than 90 percent of the staff who first volunteered have stayed with the program. He said the district has no issue finding educators willing to bear arms.

“As a matter of fact, we have a waiting list,” Scheu said.

Canadian women's hockey player apologizes for taking off silver medal

Canadian women’s hockey player Jocelyn Larocque apologized after taking off her silver medal during Thursday’s ceremonies at the Pyeongchang Olympics, saying she meant no disrespect and was caught up in the emotion of a bitter loss.

>> Read more trending news

The United States edged Canada 3-2 Thursday in a shootout victory in the gold medal game. During the postgame medal ceremony, Larocque took off her silver medal almost immediately after it was put around her neck. Her action sparked criticism from media and fans in Canada.

Later Friday, Larocque issued an apology through Team Canada, the National Post reported. Larocque expressed regrets to the International Olympic Committee, the International Ice Hockey Federation, the Pyeongchang Olympic Organizing Committee, the Canadian Olympic Committee, Hockey Canada, her teammates and fans.

>> Photos: 2018 Winter Olympics: US women’s hockey team wins gold

“I take seriously being a role model to young girls and representing our country,” Larocque wrote. “My actions did not demonstrate the values our team, myself and my family and for that I am truly sorry.

“In the moment, I was disappointed with the outcome of the game, and my emotions got the better of me.”

Larocque said the action was something she wished she “could take back,” the National Post reported.

“I meant no disrespect — it has been an honor to represent my country and win a medal for Canada,” she wrote. “I’m proud of our team, and proud to be counted among the Canadian athletes who have won medals at these Games.

“Being on the podium at the world’s biggest sporting event is a great achievement and one that I’m thankful I was able to experience with my teammates.”

NC woman wins $1 million scratch-off jackpot

Winner, winner, before that chicken dinner.

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A North Carolina woman is $1 million richer after buying a scratch-off ticket while purchasing her meal, WRAL reported.

Sayanna Bragg bought a dozen chicken wings and a soft drink at a Durham convenience store and decided to purchase a Million Dollar Fever scratch-off ticket. 

When she got to her car, Bragg began to scratch the ticket.

“When I saw the fire symbol, I knew I won something,” she told WRAL. “I was hoping it was at least $10, that way I’d win my money back, or even $100. When I saw what it was, I cried tears of joy. I jumped out of the car and ran back into the store yelling ‘I did it! I hit $1 million.’”

The store clerk at the Cruizers store confirmed that the ticket was a million-dollar winner. Bragg did not hesitate, driving to the state lottery headquarters in Raleigh to claim her winnings.

Bragg decided to take the lump-sum payout and cleared $423,000 after taxes, WRAL reported.

Bragg said she plans to use some of her winnings to take a trip to Jamaica.

“I’m going to take a long vacation,” Bragg told WRAL. “I have family in Jamaica, so I want to go back and see them. This is a day I’ll never forget.”

Georgia dad, daughter sing their way to more Girl Scout cookie sales

Who knew Childish Gambino’s “Redbone” would make good Girl Scout cookie-selling music?

>> Read more trending news

father and daughter team from Georgia created a viral video in which they ride in the car while subbing out the song’s original lyrics to push Girl Scout cookies.

The song is performed by Grammy-winning Georgia artist Childish Gambino aka Donald Glover.

Seymore Harrison Jr. and his 6-year-old daughter Charity Joy, a Girl Scout Daisy, decided to get creative for the annual cookie drive.

“She did this, I just wanted to be supportive,” said Harrison, an occupational therapist from Duluth.

When the video campaign started, Charity Joy had sold about 65 boxes, including 16 to her dad and mother, Patrice. 

Initially, the goal was 1,300 boxes.

The video has been viewed more than two million times and Charity Joy quickly reached her goal and has since moved it to 2,500 boxes. 

“It was just a song that we both like and she decided to put cookies in the song,” he said. “We are so surprised. We had no idea it would go that far.”

Many people have bought cookies and donated them to the military, which makes Charity Joy, well, joyful.

Harrison said they’ve had orders from as far away as California and Alaska.

“She loves it,” he said. Social media “if used the right way, can be the best thing in the world.”

Wakanda is real? Village of Wauconda, Illinois, gets ‘Black Panther’ love, requests for vibranium

The village of Wauconda, Illinois, is getting a lot of love from “Black Panther” fans following the blockbuster’s record-breaking premiere weekend.

>> Read more trending news

Pronounced the same way as the fictional African kingdom of Wakanda, the town, where about 20,000 people reside, has already received a call asking whether they were hiding vibranium, the strongest metal in the world of Wakanda.

Another fan called to ask about the village’s pronunciation. “When I told him, he began yelling, ‘Wakanda forever!’” Alise Homola, executive assistant to Wauconda’s village administrator and mayor, told the Hollywood Reporter.

» RELATED: ‘Black Panther’ was the first movie filmed at Tyler Perry Studios’ new stages

"At first, I was like, is there a full moon out?” Homola said, confused about the calls and requests for vibranium. She knew about the film but not the plot.

In the Marvel universe, the Kingdom of Wakanda is a fictional nation ruled by T’Challa, or the Black Panther. Thanks to its massive hidden stash of vibranium, it’s also one of the most technologically advanced nations in the world.

According to the Hollywood Reporter, Wauconda High School Principal Dan Klett even received an inquiry about changing the school’s mascot from a bulldog to a black panther. But that won’t be happening.

» RELATED: ‘Black Panther’: Five things to know about the movie’s ties to metro Atlanta

While Wauconda, Illinois, has no plans to play up the “Black Panther” connection, other cities are getting in on the fun.

Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport announced on Twitter that it would be offering nonstop flights to the fictional kingdom, prompting hilarious reactions from some of the stars of “Black Panther” themselves.

The blockbuster’s ties to the metro Atlanta region are a pretty big deal. In fact, almost $84 million of flick’s reported $200 million budget was spent in Georgia, the AJC previously reported. 

Several scenes of Wakanda were actually shot at the beautiful rock quarry at the Vulcan Materials Co. in Stockbridge.

» RELATED: Made in Atlanta: “Black Panther” stuns with $235 million four-day take

According to the state economic development department, 3,100 people working in Georgia’s booming film industry were employed during the shoot, which started in August 2016 and wrapped up in November 2017.

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