Sugar Beet staff reporter
Adam Cassellius: AP European and World History teacher, cross country coach, the most enthusiastic member of the Garden City High School staff. When Cassellius left GCHS abruptly at the end of the 2016-2017 school year, many of his students and athletes were left wondering why. Months later, new information surfaced and revealed that Cassellius entered the Witness Protection Program in May of 2017.
The United States Federal Witness Protection Program began in 1971 and has provided refuge for 1000s of witnesses and their families in the last 47 years. Individuals who enter this program abandon their old lives and, with the help of a U.S. Marshall, receive new identities.
Cassellius was left with little choice but to enter this program after he accidentally uncovered evidence of Russian hacking in October of 2016. After eBackpack crashed on Oct. 25, Cassellius tweeted to his students that Russia was the culprit. This turned out to be extremely true. Cassellius began receiving death threats from Russian President Vladimir Putin shortly after the tweet.
As much as Cassellius tried to go on with life as usual, he could not ignore the threats. His fear eventually manifested itself in his actions at school.
“We used to come to class and find him hiding under his desk,” Emma Tull, a trade and health academy junior and former AP European history student, said. “He played it off well, but now I realize he was probably not just testing us to see how we acted. Putin is a scary dude.”
Based on witness reports, it seems likely that Cassellius knew he would not be able to continue his life in Garden City long before he actually left. According to Tull and other AP European History students, he frequently came to class in elaborate costumes. It is possible that these were attempts to practice for his upcoming identity change.
Cassellius’ rapid departure after the end of the school year further reinforces this theory. “All that was left in his room was a few ungraded research papers and poster putty damage on the walls,” Mr. Meng, the trade and health academy principal, said. “He never even turned in his key. The whole thing was very odd.”
The Sugar Beet Staff made several attempts to contact Cassellius and get a statement from him. Unfortunately, the attempts were unsuccessful as Adam Cassellius no longer exists.
Chloe Hanigan is a trade and health academy junior. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.