A prestigious private military academy located in a tiny, tranquil town in rural Virginia canceled all Friday classes and all events scheduled for this weekend after receiving Islamic State-linked threats on Facebook.
The FBI as well as state and local police are investigating the threats against the school, Hargrave Military Academy, reports The Washington Post.
School officials informed parents and employees about the threats on Thursday. Parents are able to pick up their children on Friday.
Hargrave Military Academy enrolls students — all male — from seventh grade through 12th grade. It is located approximately two hours southwest of Richmond, Va.
The Facebook threat expressly referred to an open house this weekend for prospective students, police said.
Investigators said they contacted the Facebook user who sent the message — apparently successfully — and they are currently assessing the seriousness of the terror threat.
“We are cautiously optimistic that this is a hoax. However, we are not assuming it as such,” Pittsylvania County sheriff Michael W. Taylor told the Post. “We are investigating the origin and trying to determine who the person or persons are that sent this message, and when we find them, we are going to arrest them.”
In addition to the open house and Friday classes, all Hargrave athletic events scheduled for this weekend have been postponed.
Hargrave’s president, retired U.S. Army Brig. Gen. Don Broome, said the campus will see a larger police presence in coming weeks.
Broome also noted that the school has a notable international contingent which includes Muslim students. He said he plans to use the ISIS threat — hoax or not — as an educational opportunity.
“I want our young men to understand there’s a big world out there,” the retired officer told the Post. “Part of what we teach them is about character, and they have to learn to understand people who are unlike themselves.”
Terror threats against U.S. schools are all the rage these days. America’s two largest school districts — in New York City and Los Angeles — have received them. Also, schools in half a dozen states dealt with bomb threats just last month.
Hargrave Military Academy is a Baptist-affiliated institution which bills itself as “the premier military boarding school in America.”
Notable alumni of the 107-year-old school include Texas oil tycoon Walter R. Davis, U.S. Rep. Walter B. Jones, Jr. and slew of NFL players.
The comprehensive fee for tuition and room and board at Hargrave is $32,800 per year. Students must also pay a one-time fee of $2,500 for uniforms.
Classes at Hargrave are expected to resume Monday.