Today Marks 5 Years Since NWMS Shooting

It’s a day we will never forget. May 25, 2018.

Today is the five-year anniversary of the Noblesville West Middle School shooting that changed many of our lives. It changed the way we think about life. It changed the way we do things.

A then seventh-grader, armed with two handguns, opened fire in his classroom, injuring a science teacher and a fellow classmate. Thankfully, both the teacher Jason Seaman and the now Noblesville High School senior Ella Whistler both survived.

The unthinkable tragedy left a community saddened but stronger as we picked up the pieces.

For days, weeks and months and now, five years, we have been processing it all. Asking ourselves why and how it happened.

How we somehow missed the signs. Or saw the signs but didn’t pay attention.

For the first year, we listened to and read every word by the news media, trying to understand and wrap our heads around it.

But yet we still don’t really understand.

As parents, we hope and pray that we bring our kids up right. That they are kind, responsible, motivated and set high standards in their lives. And that when we explain to our kids the value of life, they get it.

I still remember that morning, five years ago, when I was sitting at my laptop computer, working from home.

It was 9:21 a.m., and my cell phone rang with the caller telling me that a large number of police vehicles were spotted driving into NWMS. More first responders than the caller had ever seen in one place. So it had to be something big. Plus, massive numbers of students were walking out the doors of the school and lining up outside.

I immediately telephoned Noblesville Police Department’s non-emergency dispatch number to find out why police were there. The reply on the other end of the phone: “There’s been a shooting.”

My heart sank.

While we’d been hearing about more school shootings around the nation, we thought it could never happen in Noblesville.

I was and am still processing all of this. Wondering why and how this could happen. Wondering what went wrong in a student’s life that would set off such a chain of actions.

After our $1.75 million school referendum passed within a year of the shooting, we added new safety staffing, safety technology tools, increased safety procedures, more mental health resources, including the hiring of two deans, one for each middle school, and increased mental health services.

Since the shooting, more parents’ and students’ eyes are open. They’re paying more attention to their surroundings.

And we are glad that this horrific day is now five years behind us.

Earlier this week, I communicated with Noblesville Schools’ district spokesperson Marnie Cooke, who shared that the district has not supported May 25 anniversary events since the one-year anniversary in 2019, and does not plan to support any future May 25 anniversary events. “Mental health experts advise against memorializing the shooting, as it creates renewed trauma and stress,” she said the school was advised.

“It is common for anniversary dates of traumatic events to reactivate thoughts and feelings from the event, and our counseling staff is prepared to support students with that if needed,” she said.

The Noblesville Schools Education Foundation is administering financial assistance indefinitely through grants for student and staff counseling expenses related to the shooting,” Cooke said.

Since 2018, Noblesville Schools has implemented 50 safety enhancements and more than 30 mental health enhancements thanks to referendum funding. For details, visit and navigate to the “Safety” section.

As we still wonder why this happened five years ago, we hope and pray anything like this will never happen again, in our district, or in any other school.

My daughter was a Noblesville East Middle School sixth-grader, who happened to stay home from school sick the morning of this tragedy.

Every morning, when my now high school junior gets on the school bus, I say a little prayer.

-Betsy Reason writes about people, places and things in Hamilton County. Contact The Times Editor Betsy Reason at