Noblesville students head back to class with new safety measures in place

NOBLESVILLE, Ind— Several school districts throughout Indiana are heading back to class this morning, and that includes Noblesville.

It’s been less than three months since a student gunman opened fire in a classroom, injuring teacher Jason Seaman and student Ella Whistler. Both are expected to be at school this morning and are looking forward to getting back to their normal routine.

Some parents said they were nervous sending their children back to schools in the district.

“Little bit nervous about it," said Carol Hamilton.  "But I do feel that Noblesville has done a good job of addressing the issue that has happened and doing the best they can do to prevent that from happening again.”

Anna Thompson said her daughter is a Junior at the high school and she felt uneasy getting on the bus Wednesday morning.

"I just told her, you know, you’re going to be fine and you can call me whenever you need to," Thompson said.  "And the teachers here are very supportive and obviously very brave.”

Just over two months after being shot seven times, Ella Whistler said was looking forward to starting the new school year.  She shared her thoughts while cheering on classmates at a volleyball tournament June 22nd.

"It feels really good, I feel good getting back to a normal schedule and being able to do the normal things that i would usually do and it just feels really nice," Ella said.

Since the shooting, school officials have made several safety enhancements.

Some of those include:

  • Additional school resource officers
  • Increased focus on mental health
  • Restricting the use of backpacks
  • Limiting visitor access
  • Wand metal detectors will be used on a case-by-case basis
  • Elimination of all portable classrooms

Principal Stacey Swan issued this statement:

"Noblesville West Middle school students and staff are excited to be back at school. We want everyone to know how grateful we are for the outpouring of support over the last two months. We feel fortunate to see exactly how generous and caring Noblesville and the surrounding areas can be. Most importantly, we want the world to know that one day in our history will not define us. It is true that we are a part of a truly unfortunate statistic, but we are so much more than this. We will continue to defy the odds and prove what we already knew.

"Noblesville West is an incredible place where students love coming to school. We are putting last year behind us and looking forward to the 2018-19 school year and all the wonderful memories we will make."

Officials also want to make continued safety changes in the future. This fall, residents  will vote on a $50 million dollar referendum that would replace an existing referendum passed in 2016.

If approved, the operating referendum tax rate would go from 18.9 cents to 37 cents.

You can find out more details about the upcoming referendum here.

The parent group S.O.S. Noblesville is calling for a third-party threat assessment at schools in the district.  They're also seeking more detailed information about how the money from the referendum would be spent.