A sign outside Novi High School this past August mentions "secure entry additions" and thanks the community for its investment.

A sign outside Novi High School this past August mentions "secure entry additions" and thanks the community for its investment.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes

Novi Community School District reacts to Oxford High School shooting

By: Brian Wells | Novi Note | Published December 1, 2021


NOVI — On Tuesday afternoon, a sophomore at Oxford High School shot and killed four students and injured seven others.

“The worst kind of tragedy we’ve seen across the country and we hoped and prayed it would never come to Oakland County, but it has visited itself on our community,” Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard said in a press conference Tuesday. “Certainly the first thoughts are prayers for the families and loved ones and friends that have been impacted by this unspeakable and unforgivable event.”

Tate Myre, 16; Hana St. Juliana, 14; Madisyn Baldwin, 17 and Justin Shilling, 17, all students of Oxford High School, were killed. 

A 15-year-old student from Oxford High School has been detained. He is being charged as an adult with one count of terrorism causing death, four counts of first-degree murder, seven counts of assault with intent to murder and 12 counts of possession of a firearm in the commission of a felony.

Tuesday afternoon, Novi Community School District Superintendent Steve Matthews sent a letter to staff and parents sharing the district’s response to the shooting.

“Each day we come to our schools and we expect to be safe. We work with our students and staff to know what to do in emergency situations like this,” Matthews said in the letter. “But the truth is these situations scare us all.”

Over the course of the next few days, parents, students and staff can expect to see an increased police presence in and around district buildings. This is being done as a precaution and to communicate that they are working to keep buildings safe, Matthews said.

The increased police presence is in addition to the two school resource officers who normally spend time in the schools.

Under Michigan Public Act 12 of 2014, the district is also required each school year to hold a minimum of three lockdown drills, defined as “drills in which the occupants are restricted to the interior of the building.”

Matthews suggested parents listen to their students as their students look to them for guidance. In a press release, the Oakland Community Health Network suggests parents acknowledge what happened, provide age-appropriate information and be supportive, and to help their children feel safe by establishing a sense of normalcy and routine.

“Our responsibility as adults is to help our children navigate through these frightening situations,” Matthews said. “Listen and respond with care and compassion. Reinforce that our schools are safe. Reinforce that there are adults at each building who work to keep the schools safe.”

The Oakland Community Health Network also suggests that parents with older children approach them to find out what they know and learn their thoughts and feelings.

“Recognize the effect this has on your child,” the release states. “Talk to your child about their thoughts and emotions as it pertains to the event and validate their feelings and concerns.”

The district also shared resources to help parents support their children on social media pages.

In a joint statement from the Michigan Education Association President Paula Herbart and National Education Association President Becky Pringle, they said school should be a safe place for students and employees, but that safety was shattered by gunshots.

“Our hearts go out to the victims and their families, as well as all the Oxford students and educators who’ll carry (Tuesday) with them for the rest of their lives,” they said in the statement. “We also want to thank the dedicated first responders whose swift action was essential, especially the school resource officer who apprehended the shooter and kept more innocent lives from being lost.”

The MEA and NEA are committed to working with local members and the school district to ensure that students and employees get the emotional support they need, the release says.

“Further, we remain committed to ending violence in our schools. One event like this is too many — and this is not the first time the unthinkable has happened,” the statement says. “Addressing the mental health needs of our students and the physical safety of everyone in our schools is not a partisan issue and must be something we work together to achieve. Each of today’s victims — and every student, parent, educator and first responder — deserves that commitment from us all.”

Genisys Credit Union announced Dec. 1 that, in partnership with Oxford Community Schools, it is accepting donations to assist the families affected by the tragedy. Any of the credit union’s 28 branches in Michigan — visit genisyscu.org/locations for a list — will accept donations to Oxford Strong. Checks should be made payable to "Genisys Credit Union — Oxford Strong."

Contact Brian Wells at (586) 498-1081, (248) 291-7637 or bwells@candgnews.com.