America we’ve built leaves students taking cover, not surprised by shootings

INDIANAPOLIS — My son heard the news about the school shooting in Noblesville before I did.

A friend of his — a guy with whom he’d played travel baseball — posted on social media that morning that Noblesville High School had gone into a lockdown. More posts and more messages followed.

We now know what happened at Noblesville West Middle School that morning.

A male student asked to be excused from class to use the restroom. When he returned, he had two handguns and he started firing. He shot 13-year-old Ella Whistler in the chest and science teacher Jason Seaman three times, in the abdomen, hip and forearm.

Seaman charged the student with the gun, swatted the weapon away and tackled him.

Grateful parents, students, other family members and friends call Seaman a hero.

Hero seems like such a small word for such a large act.

If Seaman hadn’t acted with the courage he did, how many children might have died that morning? How many parents would be grieving today and forever after? How many brothers and sisters? How many grandparents?

Bad as it was, it could have been worse.

Following the shootings, Ella Whistler remained in critical but — thank goodness — stable condition.

And Seaman himself seemed to be recovering from his wounds.

In the aftermath of the shooting, I noted how many of the students in Noblesville said they were scared but not shocked. There were few moments of paralyzing disbelief. When the code red sounded, they knew what to do. They knew they had to run and hide.

That’s because this is the world in which we have prepared them to live.

Every now and then, my wife and I receive a notice from the school our son attends. A school official informs us that the school did a practice lockdown during the day. Teachers and administrators coached the students on what to do if an active shooter showed up in the halls.

Such drills take place in schools across America.

In addition to teaching students reading, writing and math, we also ask educators to teach them how to seek cover and stay quiet until the shooting stops.

Schools didn’t do such things when I was a student many years ago.

We had fire drills, when we would practice lining up and marching out of the school in an orderly fashion. We had tornado drills. When I was very young, we even had drills to prepare us on what to do in event of a nuclear attack.

But no teacher or principal I ever had stood before us and said there was a decent chance that a fellow student, a former student, a disgruntled employee or the unhappy child of an employee would show up and try to mow us down. No one told us we had to be prepared to be shot dead at our desks.

That was unthinkable.

Not now.

Now, it’s just another day in America.

A new normal.

This is the world we have made for our children.

It is a world in which we are grateful when a 13-year-old girl emerges from moments of horror with a chest wound that “only” leaves her in critical but stable condition.

It is a world in which we ask teachers such as Jason Seaman — a man part of a profession our leaders so often demonize and degrade — to hurl themselves into the paths of bullets in defense of the young.

It is a world in which we teach students to accept the fact that they may be shot when they go to school.

This is the America we’ve built.

The America we ask our children to inhabit.

Glory, glory hallelujah.

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John Krull is director of Franklin College’s Pulliam School of Journalism, host of “No Limits” WFYI 90.1 Indianapolis and publisher of, a news website powered by Franklin College journalism students. Send comments to [email protected].