Vigil after the mass shooting at NIU in 2008. | NIU Media Services — Wade Duerkes and Scott Walstrom

February 14, 2008, I was at after-school rehearsal for my high school’s spring play when a classmate looked at her phone and exclaimed to us all that there had been a shooting at Northern Illinois University, the college just up the road.

This was before widespread cell phone access among teens, and there certainly were no smart phones. The rest of us without phones had no way of getting in touch with our parents and no…