This is a re-post of our article that captured some of the various images and words following the tragedy of last April 16th. TechHoops.com has not forgotten any of the 32 victims from last year and never will. Our thoughts and prayers are with all of the impacted families this week especially, but really every day. Not a day goes by that we don’t think of those that lost their lives, so full of hope and promise, way too early. We miss you.
We at TechHoops.com want to post some of the inspiring images and words to help the Hokie community cope with this tragedy. If you have any to share, please leave us a comment.
Nikki Giovanni at the Convocation:
At Virginia Tech, Remembering While Moving On
August 19, 2007
BLACKSBURG, Va., Aug. 19 â€” By move-in day this weekend, the freshman class at Virginia Tech already knew a few of the ropes. Packed into the bleachers of Cassell Coliseum in their orange and maroon T-shirts on Saturday night, they began to jump up and down in unison at the opening chords of â€œEnter Sandman,â€ the Metallica anthem. At the sound of â€œHokie Hokie Hokie, Hi!â€ they joined in with the 111-year-old nonsense cheer that gave the university mascot its name.
Jeff Fleming, a Virginia Tech alumnus, looked through merchandise showing school spirit at the campus bookstore.
But Seth Greenberg, the menâ€™s basketball coach, had something more to tell them.
â€œAfter the tragedy of 4/16 last year, you saw the best of the Virginia Tech students,â€ he said, pacing the floor of the basketball court. â€œTheir ownership, their passion, their commitment to their university was second to none. They love this school. They believe in this school. And thatâ€™s the pride that you have to take each and every day as you walk across this campus.â€
As students return to classes here Monday, just four months after the countryâ€™s deadliest shooting rampage took 33 lives and devastated the campus, Virginia Tech is walking a fine line between remembering and moving on. It must welcome eager freshmen while embracing faculty members and students who are grieving and, in some cases, still recovering from physical injuries.
Before freshman orientation in July, the student center was stripped of the banners, gifts and cards that poured in after the shooting. But on Sunday afternoon, the central event was the dedication of a memorial to the victims in the symbolic heart of the campus, the Drillfield.
T-shirts proclaiming â€œWe are Virginia Tech,â€ the rallying cry taken from the poem written by Nikki Giovanni after the shooting, are everywhere on campus. But in an effort to avoid being defined solely by tragedy, the university has not permitted merchandise that juxtapose the date April 16 with the universityâ€™s name or trademarks.
Like Coach Greenberg, many officials have tried to emphasize the grace of the campus response, an approach that resonates both with those who lived through the crisis and those who watched it on television. Although the shooting occurred two weeks before tuition deposits were due, Virginia Tech saw no decline in the percentage of students accepting its admission offers. And of the 25 students injured in the shooting, 19 will be returning to classes this fall, said Mark Owczarski, a university spokesman.
Kim Bereznak, a freshman, had already decided to accept Virginia Techâ€™s offer before the shooting, but what she saw afterward reinforced her decision. â€œIt made me proud, personally, just how strong everyone was,â€ she said. â€œThey could have turned their back on their school, but they didnâ€™t.â€
Returning students voiced some apprehension, but said they were more relieved to end a summer of intrusive questions from people back home.
â€œItâ€™s to the point where you just want to go be in Blacksburg, be with the Hokies, be with your family,â€ said Robert Bowman, a senior and the president of the Hokie Ambassadors, who lead campus tours. Still, he added, there is a craving for normalcy. â€œBy tomorrow there will be more students complaining about their chemistry professor than talking about April 16. We will be back.â€
If questions from outsiders can be jarring, the rampage is still a frequent topic of conversation among friends, said Grant Duncan, a sophomore. â€œItâ€™s good to continue to talk about it,â€ he said. â€œIt definitely just helps the healing process.â€
Derek Oâ€™Dell, 20, who was shot in the arm as he tried to bar the student gunman, Seung-Hui Cho, from his classroom, said he was thrilled to be back despite having anxiety attacks. â€œI donâ€™t really know how well Iâ€™ll be able to concentrate, but I definitely want to be back here,â€ he said. â€œThe Hokie Nation, being back here now, itâ€™s even more of a sense of belonging.â€
In a letter about the news media presence expected on campus this week, Lawrence G. Hincker, the vice president for university relations, told students to feel free to decline any interview. â€œShould you engage a reporter,â€ he wrote, â€œtake advantage of the opportunity to share some Hokie spirit. The world mourned with us and maintains an interest in the collective health of our extended university community.â€
Rick Sparks Jr., the director of orientation, said that when the student orientation leaders arrived, he was prepared to spend hours talking through the trauma. But that was not necessary. â€œThey were anxious about getting questions,â€ he said, â€œbut other than that they were ready to do their jobs.â€
The banners and other gifts were removed from the student center, he said, because they might have overwhelmed newcomers. Freshmen and their parents were offered a session where the campus police answered questions about the shooting and security, but very few attended, Mr. Sparks said.
New security measures include an emergency text-messaging system for student cellphones and 24-hour locks at residence halls. New locks have also been installed on classroom doors, and door handles on classroom buildings will be harder to chain shut, as Mr. Cho did before the shooting.
Susanna Rinehart, a theater professor, said she would wait to see her studentsâ€™ mood before deciding how to discuss the shooting.
â€œItâ€™s so hard to say what it feels like to be a faculty member here right now,â€ said Ms. Rinehart, whose first class on Monday, an arts survey, will have more than 500 students from all majors. â€œWe all, I think, just feel this sort of inner shakiness, this sort of not knowing what itâ€™s going to feel like, and knowing that we canâ€™t know.â€
Yankees to play Hokies in Spring 2008 (from HokieSports.com)
In a pre-game ceremony prior to today’s game vs. the Boston Red Sox at Yankee Stadium, the New York Yankees will make a $1 million contribution to the Virginia Tech “Hokie Spirit Memorial Fund”, established to aid in the healing process following the tragic events that took place in Blacksburg, Virginia on April 16.
The Yankees will also honor the memory of the victims by wearing the Virginia Tech logo on their caps, as well as painting a special Virginia Tech logo on the field.
Virginia Tech will be represented by President Dr. Charles Steger, who will throw out the game’s ceremonial first pitch. Also on hand for the ceremony will be Director of Athletics Jim Weaver, Capt. Vince Houston of the Virginia Tech Police Department and Jason Dominczak and Matthew Johnson of the Virginia Tech Rescue Squad.
In addition to the donation, the Yankees will announce a commitment to play in an exhibition game on or near the campus of Virginia Tech some time during 2008.
“The events that took place this spring in Virginia have deeply affected us all,” said New York Yankees Principal Owner George Steinbrenner. “But the Virginia Tech community has shown great spirit and resolve during this difficult time, and the New York Yankees are proud to join so many others in supporting the healing process.”
Said Dr. Charles Steger, President of Virginia Tech, “On behalf of everyone associated with Virginia Tech, including the families of the victims of our recent tragedy, I would like to convey our sincere gratitude to the New York Yankees organization for this wonderful contribution to the Hokie Spirit Memorial Fund.”
Virginia Tech Tribute from SCAD:
The NFL Draft:
The Beta Bridge in Charlottesville:
From the Baltimore Sun (written by Doug Donovan, 4/16/07):
In Monday morning’s lecture on solid mechanics, all was quiet except for the sound of Professor Liviu Librescu’s voice.
Then came the gunshots — in the classroom next door. In an instant, Virginia Tech’s Norris Hall, a building dedicated to the science of engineering, was torn apart by the worst shooting rampage in modern U.S. history.
Junior Richard Mallalieu said he and about 20 classmates instantly dropped to the floor, ducking under and behind desks for what sounded like the first 10 shots.
“It wasn’t like an automatic weapon, but it was a steady ‘pow,’ ‘pow,’ ‘pow,’ ‘pow,’ ” Mallalieu, 23, said in a phone interview with The Sun. “We didn’t know what to do at first.” Then the sound of the gunshots shifted.
Their next move became instantly clear: Get out.
Mallalieu said his professor held the door shut while students darted to the windows. Some climbed on desks, ledges and a radiator cover to pull down the screens and kick at the metal-framed glass, Mallalieu said. Three windows easily gave way and swung open on hinges as the gunshots got louder.
“It sounded like he was going out into the hallway,” said Mallalieu, a civil engineering major from Luray, Va.
Once the windows for the second-floor classroom were open, Mallalieu and most of his classmates hung out of them and dropped about 10 feet to bushes and grass below, he said.
Some students ran to a nearby building. Others waited to help students who had been injured in the fall, Mallalieu said.
But then the sound of gunfire filled their classroom, sending all who had escaped toward nearby Patton Hall, he said.
Mallalieu said he never saw Librescu escape. “I don’t think my teacher got out.”
Honoring the Victims of the Tragedy at Virginia Tech | A Proclamation by the President of the United States of America:
Our Nation grieves with those who have lost loved ones at Virginia Tech. We hold the victims in our hearts. We lift them up in our prayers, and we ask a loving God to comfort those who are suffering.
As a mark of respect for the victims of the senseless acts of violence perpetrated on Monday, April 16, 2007, by the authority vested in me as President of the United States by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, I hereby order that the flag of the United States shall be flown at half-staff at the White House and upon all public buildings and grounds, at all military posts and naval stations, and on all naval vessels of the Federal Government in the District of Columbia and throughout the United States and its Territories and possessions until sunset, Sunday, April 22, 2007. I also direct that the flag shall be flown at half-staff for the same length of time at all United States embassies, legations, consular offices, and other facilities abroad, including all military facilities and naval vessels and stations.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this seventeenth day of April, in the year of our Lord two thousand seven, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-first.
GEORGE W. BUSH
Photo from the Convocation at Lane Stadium (AP Photo/Amy Sancetta):
Statement from ACC Commissioner John D. Swofford on the Tragedy at Virginia Tech (April 17, 2007):
Every student-athlete, coach and administrator that is a part of the Atlantic Coast Conference is filled with heart-felt sympathy for, not only those students, faculty members and families directly affected by this tragedy, but for the entire Virginia Tech community as well.
Our Conference is family and we will assist in any way possible in helping this very special and close-knit part of our family move forward from Monday’s senseless and inexplicable act.
In solitude and solidarity, we will remember those who have lost their lives and honor our friends, colleagues and fellow students at Virginia Tech with a moment of silence at each of our ACC Spring Championships.
Today, we are all Hokies.
Miami of Ohio Home Page:
From the Dave Matthews Band:
Our Condolences to the VA Tech Community
We are deeply saddened by the tragedy that struck our neighbors at Virginia Tech. Our thoughts are with the families and friends who have lost loved ones. Words struggle to convey the sorrow we feel about such a shocking and senseless loss.
ESPN Home Page:
Former Football Player Justin Hamilton:
Browns safety Justin Hamilton, who was drafted in the seventh round by Cleveland in 2006 and spent five years in Blacksburg, was overwhelmed by one thought.
“I would have been in that building if I was still a student there,” he said Tuesday. “I really have been struggling with what I would have done or what it was that decided those people’s fates.”
In his final three years, Hamilton attended classes in Norris Hall, where most of the killings took place.
He was at the Browns’ facility working out early Monday when he first learned of a problem at his alma mater. After showering, he was on his way to breakfast when he began getting more information on the unfolding tragedy.
“I started getting text messages and phone calls, and immediately I knew something was going on that was really bad,” he said.
One message Hamilton received was from a close friend, a SWAT team member.
“He said he was dispatched to Virginia Tech, which is three hours away,” Hamilton said. “When he sent me a message, I knew something was really bad. I went straight home, turned on the news and basically I have been watching for the last 24 hours.”
Hamilton watched in disbelief as a video taken by a Virginia Tech student with a cell phone was shown repeatedly. On it, police are seen working their way up to the doors of Norris Hall, which authorities said were apparently chained shut by the shooter.
“There were chills all over my body because I have seen through the eyes of that camera,” the 24-year-old player said. “Almost every day of my career I was in that area. It was just like I was watching a normal day on campus except there were guns shots and SWAT teams and police everywhere.
“To think that we might be hearing the last moments of some people’s lives. … I could not get that out of my mind, how it could have been me. I don’t understand why I was spared and those people weren’t and that has really bothered me.”
Candelight Vigil on the Drillfield:
From Chris Fowler, ESPN, Host of College Gameday:
They are clashing colors, maroon and orange. As they say, it’s a combination only a Hokie could love.
But Tuesday, maroon and orange came together in a moving display of sympathy, support and pride. Watching Virginia Tech students in school colors grieve together at the convocation in Cassell Coliseum got me choked up. I couldn’t speak. When they concluded the afternoon by together yelling “We Are Virginia Tech!” and “Let’s Go Hokies!” I lost it. Surprising feelings rushed forth. Here were students in a basketball arena doing a sports chant. It was such a familiar expression of unity, but this time summoned for an infinitely more profound occasion.
The Virginia Tech community has come together to mourn the lives that were lost.
It’s a campus I know well, from many visits through the years. You don’t arrive at Virginia Tech accidentally. You have to work to get there, journeying into the Blue Ridge Mountains. It’s lovely â€¦ picturesque â€¦ and seems very far away from the dangers of the outside world.
There is a collective strength of spirit there that feels quite different from other campuses we visit. It’s a big school, of about 26,000. But it feels like a tight community.
The official name is Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. It’s not a curriculum or a setting for everyone. But most students who are there want to be nowhere else. That spirit seems to endure long after leaving Blacksburg. Once a Hokie, always a Hokie.
All of this made watching the images and hearing the horrific accounts Monday even more chilling. All the networks showed maps marking the buildings the shootings took place. In between them is the spot “College GameDay” was staged in September, on the mall near the library and the parade ground.
Those of us who work on “GameDay” (and on the entire ESPN college football project) have a strong affection for Virginia Tech that goes back many years. The pain there is unimaginable and will not soon fade. We hope that the sense of unity and togetherness that makes it a special campus will remain.
During the Hokies’ run to the championship game in the ’99 football season, it was the amazing spirit of Virginia Tech that helped us take “GameDay’s” road shows to a level we’d never imagined. At the urging of Frank Beamer, an orange and maroon horde of about 13,000 wedged in to a corner of Lane Stadium one Saturday morning.
For us, it was a mind-boggling display. Sure, we knew they hadn’t necessarily shown up to hear three guys on a set many yards away talk football. They came to show the nation how strongly they felt about their team and their school. And I can’t tell you how much it meant to us to share the day with them.
When “GameDay” revisited Blacksburg later that season, we figured that the novelty had worn off and expected a much smaller crowd. Instead, an even bigger, more spirited throng roared for 90 minutes. After that, our little traveling circus was never the same. The ante had been upped for every other school. Virginia Tech set the standard. We really have savored each visit since.
This week, that powerful sense of community at Tech is being shown to the world. It is heartening.
Unfortunately, much of the world always will associate this campus in the mountains only with this massacre. Many will conclude from this senseless, psychotic act that the current college generation in America is warped by violence â€¦ and hopeless.
To me, news events of recent weeks have revealed something quite different. It strikes me: The many Tech students I have seen interviewed were so thoughtful and reasonable, even in moments fresh with confused fear. A strong sense of humanity shines through.
In a way, I saw the same sense of dignity and wisdom-beyond-years displayed by the Rutgers women’s basketball team and the three former lacrosse players from Duke. Under intense scrutiny, it was the college kids who were level-headed, displaying tolerant, thoughtful restraint and a sense of perspective, while so many adults embarrassed themselves, grandstanding for the voracious 24-hour media machine, foaming at the mouth on cue.
Not the students. It made me feel pretty good about the generation that will inherit this place.
To the community of Virginia Tech and to the families of the victims, our thoughts will remain with you during the long, difficult healing process. Your sense of unity has never been more needed. It was touching that under the weight of so many other emotions, Tech students seemed saddened that the school they love forever could be branded as the site of an historic massacre.
To those of us who have spent time there, Tech always will be recognized for much more than the hours of tragedy April 16, 2007. We look forward to our next chance to experience Virginia Tech pride first hand.
Chris Fowler is the host of ESPN’s “College GameDay.”
Sportscenter story on Hokie Baseball Game, 4/20/07:
From Coleman Collins:
Collins: ‘It’s not a shock anymore’
Former Hokie basketball player talks about campus shootings
Published on: 04/17/07
Stone Mountain resident Coleman Collins is a senior at Virginia Tech,
where he recently finished a basketball career in which he was a
three-year starter. Some major college athletes leave school after
their playing eligibility is over. Collins, who is on track to get his
masters degree in education this spring, stayed in Blacksburg, Va. The
following is Collins’ account of his last 48 hours, as told to AJC
staff writer Bill Sanders.
“I live off campus. I woke up and my brother had been ringing my
phone. I had cable turned off to save some money. I didn’t find out
’till he called me to make sure I was all right. I tried to return as
many calls as I could.
“I went to my girlfriend’s house to watch the coverage. It started
with one person being shot and 15 people injured. It got up to 20 and
the gravity of the situation began to set in, where this place and
this event was in history.
This is strange to think this is what the university is going to be
associated with. When I first came, people asked me, have I seen
Michael Vick or Marcus Vick? Now it’s going to be, ‘Were you there?
Did you know any of them?’
“College students now are a different breed. We were raised on this.
Columbine affected us growing up. As bad as it sounds to say, it’s not
a shock anymore. It’s still hard, though. It’s a strange feeling.
“With everyone living on top of each other here, phone lines were
jammed and people weren’t getting through. I called my mom around 11,
but she knew I wouldn’t be at the places where this happened. I had
people calling me all morning that couldn’t get through. God only
knows what kind of feeling you have when you can’t get any
information. I tried to e-mail as many people as I could.
“None of my close friends were affected. I’m seeing faces of people I
recognize. It’s strange. The R.A., Ryan Clark, I’d always see him. You
now share a bond with people that you don’t know intimately. There are
people now that you’ll never get to know.
I think the convocation today helped, and we’re having a candlelight
vigil [Tuesday night].
“But the last year or so, being like it is, it’s strange from a
personal standpoint, losing my father and now this.
“There’s a general malaise that’s set in around everyone. It has not
all registered with me yet. I don’t know how to describe it. The
convocation today took place where we play basketball games, and where
I had just ended my career. To come back under these circumstances,
with Secret Service everywhere, seeing everyone come together, it’s
something I’ll remember.
“It was something that was really special, seeing the goodwill from
the student body, the faculty, the mayor, the governor, the president.
To hear the cheers one more time is something that was great to be
able to do 12 or 24 hours after the tragedy. Hearing people chanting
‘Let’s Go Hokies’ the last two minutes of the assembly is something
I’ll never forget.”
Hoda Kotb’s report on Dateline NBC, 4/16/07:
Letter to the Students and Administration of the University of Virginia:
Date: April 17, 2007
On behalf of 30,000 students, administrators, and our Virginia Tech community, I cannot begin to express our gratitude for the outpouring of sympathy, support, and compassion UVA has shown us in the past two days.
It is an understatement to say the aftermath of our losses has been emotionally trying for us. The realization of losing 32 valuable lives in our Virginia Tech family is something that we are trying desperately to recover from…but even in the most difficult day of Virginia Tech history, we have found strength-it is your university in particular that has sustained us, far beyond what you will ever know.
We thank you for your students and faculty that gathered to memorialize our victims and to share in our sorrow.
We thank you for the initiative and commitment your student government made towards finding 30,000 candles for our grieving campus, so that our student leaders could focus on healing and comforting instead.
We thank you for the hundreds of Hokies who saw your painted bridge, and were moved to tears.
We thank you for the way your students instantly put aside our infamous rivalry to the point where the greatest measures of compassion from another institution have been from you.
Your aid has had such a profound impact upon our students. Please know what UVA is doing is being noticed, is making a difference, and is nothing short of extraordinary.
Thank you for being a testament to the best of collegiate student leadership-and to humanity in general. In what we have been calling the darkest night Virginia Tech has ever seen, you are one of our brightest lights. The strong alliance that has been formed between our school and yours is part of our foundation in moving forward.
From our hearts to yours, thank you for your noble efforts. May you also find solace and restoration as we grieve together as students and as a nation.
In or out of times of need, Virginia Tech will stand beside you as fellow students, Virginians, and most importantly, as friends.
Elizabeth Hart on behalf of Virginia Tech students
Virginia Tech Student Government Association
Director of Public Relations
Red Sox-Yankees Game and Batting Practice, 4/20/07:
From Texas A&M:
A Letter of Support for the Virginia Tech Family
Posted: Apr 18, 2007
Dear Aggie Family,
Today our hearts are heavy for the students, faculty, staff and alumni of Virginia Tech. What their campus community endured Monday is beyond comprehension. No doubt, the events of Monday morning caused us to pause and reflect on our own tragic events of 1999. While the circumstances differ, the impact of such a large-scale loss of life on a close-knit campus is much the same. It is a day that will not be forgotten.
Many of us traveled to Blacksburg in September 2003 for our football game against the Hokies and experienced the warm hospitality of the Virginia Tech faithful. I believe we felt an immediate kinship with their fans, due in large part to similarities in the origins of our two schools. In the last few days many of you have expressed genuine concern and compassion for our friends at Virginia Tech and offered suggestions on how we as an Aggie family might show our support.
Iâ€™m sure it wonâ€™t surprise you to know that students at Texas A&M are already reaching out to show their support. Monday night, members of our Corps of Cadets gathered for Echo Taps, an event reserved to pay respects to those killed in times of national tragedy. Our student government has organized an effort to collect notes of condolence from Aggies and forward these to the students of Virginia Tech. And just this morning The Association of Former Students joined together with the Texas Exes of the University of Texas to send a unified message of support to the Virginia Tech Alumni Association. Given that our two schools have endured tragedies on our own campuses in 1999 and 1966, we felt it was an appropriate gesture to have Aggie maroon and Texas orange stand with the maroon and orange of Virginia Tech in a show of support.
Virginia Tech, much like Texas A&M, is a close-knit community. The strength of the Hokie Nation will help them to work through the healing process and move forward. The Aggie family relates to what the Virginia Tech family is experiencing in the aftermath of this tragedy and we offer up our thoughts, prayers and encouragement. We pulled together as a family in 1999, but we also found great strength in the kindness and support of universities across the nation.
Today, we extend to Virginia Tech our most sincere sympathy, along with the promise that day by day, little by little, healing will come.
In the Aggie Spirit,
Porter S. Garner III â€™79
Washington Nationals pay tribute to Tech
(photo from Jonathan Ernst – Reuters)
From Roanoke Times (by Randy King):
Beamer alters priorities
The Hokies’ football coach has spent the week looking for ways to help his stunned university.
Who’s going to play where and how much?
Who’s going to fill the holes on the offensive line?
Finding answers to such questions aren’t nearly so important to Virginia Tech football coach Frank Beamer anymore. Not right now, anyway.
In the aftermath of Monday’s mass shooting that killed 32 people and injured more than a dozen others, Beamer has taken on a much more serious assignment of leadership this week.
Beamer, whose football program’s rise to national prominence the past 13 years has made him the face of Virginia Tech to many people, spent part of Wednesday meeting with the families that lost a son or daughter in the tragedy. On Thursday, he was at Montgomery Regional Hospital, visiting some of the injured.
“When you walked in that room [Wednesday] of all the families of people that didn’t make it, that’s the ones who are tough to look at. The families are who you feel for right now,” said Beamer, speaking Thursday on an ACC spring football coaches teleconference.
“The one thing I told them was that people do care about them and we’re not going to forget. Right now, we’re working on some things with our uniform for each of the 32 who were killed to try to recognize them and to make sure we don’t forget them. For those families, you just feel so sorry for them and you just hope that they will somehow can have the strength to get through these next few days.
“And [Thursday], to see the faces of those students who have been shot but are making it … that’s kind of what keeps me going. I told each one leaving the room that we will not let one person change how we do things at Virginia Tech, and each overwhelmingly agreed. They’re going to get better and we’re going to come back stronger than ever.
“That’s the message I got. I’m really glad that I went. They probably did more good for me than I did for them … just to see their face and many of them smiling now.”
Beamer, 60, the Hokies’ football coach the past 20 years, said he thinks all of Hokie Nation will “come out of this better than ever.”
“I think when it’s all said and done … if I know Virginia Tech people, we will become tighter, we’ll become closer together, we’ll care more for each other, and we’ll show more respect for each other,” he said.
“We absolutely will not give into one person coming in here and causing all this pain and suffering. We’re too proud of a group of people. Like I say, we grieve with the families, but we’re going to come back stronger than ever. We’ve got to overcome it and we’ve got to be a bigger family than we’ve ever been before. And that’s what I see happening. That’s what we’re going to make sure happens.”
When asked if he had received any calls from the families of current players or freshmen who will enter the program in August, Beamer said he did talk with a “very concerned” parent Wednesday.
“They had a person that they worked with who had a son who was shot [Monday] and you can just imagine,” Beamer said. “We’re having a team meeting Monday and make sure if anybody needs us to get them counseling or whatever … just a little get-together to make sure all of them are OK.”
Beamer said that he hasn’t heard of any player who has mentioned the possibility of transferring from the program to another school.
Beamer said he and his staff have received “at least 50″ calls from coaches all across America wishing to pass along their sympathy and support. Virginia coach Al Groh called him Wednesday. He also received a call from Ohio State coach Jim Tressel, who talked about how the Buckeyes hope to wear a “VT” logo on their helmets in their Saturday spring game.
Hokies associate head coach Billy Hite said Thursday that the football office has been flooded with calls from former Tech players and coaches.
“It’s been unbelievable,” Hite said. “Bruce Smith [ex-Tech All-America defensive end] wants to do something. I don’t know what to tell him. Bruce Smith has called me four times and left me a number if he can do anything. Coach [Bill] Dooley [ex-Tech head coach] has called twice … I talked to his wife this morning.
“The amount of college coaches from around the country who have called … it’s been wonderful. I’m talking about ACC coaches, too, people that you’re competing against. The phone has just rung off the hook.”
After meeting with his coaching staff, Beamer made the decision Tuesday to cancel the team’s final three spring workouts that were scheduled to conclude with the annual spring game in Lane on Saturday.
“At some positions more than others, we needed this week,” Beamer said. “It’s a big week, really, because we get into the spring game. And I think you find out a lot about your players when they’re playing a game, how they react in a game as opposed to a practice drill. In one sense, we’d loved to have seen our quarterbacks play a game, we’d loved to have seen some offensive linemen play in a game like that. There’s no question it sets us back.
“But the other side of it, out of respect for these families, we felt like this was the right thing to do. [Football] is not the most important thing here right now. The most important thing is we help these families the best we can to get through this week. We’ll make the other up.
I met with my coaches today, we’re going to meet again Monday and go through each player, and what he needs to do to get better and be ready for next fall, how much playing time we see him having right now and what we want them to come back weight-wise and so forth.”
Beamer said he thinks his football team, which will enter this fall ranked highly in the national polls, will help build an even stronger bond between Tech’s students, faculty, alumni and fans.
“I think when we open [Sept. 1] against East Carolina that there will be a togetherness in [Lane] Stadium that we’ve never seen before,” Beamer predicted. “And it’s been a pretty together place … that’s helped us win a lot of football games in that stadium. But I’ll just bet … if I know Hokie people, we’ll be tighter than ever next fall.”
Stay Strong VT – Video Tribute:
Penn State Spring Football Game (4/21/07):
Ohio State Spring Football Game (4/21/07):
AOL Home Page (4/22/07):
Kentucky Spring Football Game (4/21/07):
Niagara Falls (4/22/07):
Victims in Virginia Tech massacre
The slain include an award-winning professor and a former Air Force cadet
MSNBC staff and news service reports
Updated: 3:18 p.m. ET April 18, 2007
They came to Blacksburg, Va., from all over the country â€” and all over the world. They came to study, and they came to teach. They had plans. They had friends. They had families.
As the list of confirmed victims in Monday’s massacre on the Virginia Tech campus grew, so too did the number of stories about the individuals who fell victim to the gunman, 23-year-old Cho Seung-Hui of Centreville, Va.
There were stories of heroism. Students of Liviu Librescu, an engineering science and mechanics lecturer, say he blocked the door of his classroom with his body to protect those inside. Librescu, 76, was a Holocaust survivor.
Ryan Clark, a popular and gregarious member of the Marching Virginians band, was just weeks away from graduation. A resident adviser on the fourth floor of the West Ambler Johnston dorm, Clark came to the aid of a student the morning of April 16. It cost him his life.
Students told of teachers who inspired them. Neighbors spoke of children they’d seen grow up and leave for college, lives filled with promise.
Kevin Granata was one of the top five biomechanics researchers in the country working on movement dynamics in cerebral palsy. He coached his children in many sports and extracurricular activities.
Reema Samaha, a freshman who performed with the school’s Contemporary Dance Ensemble, was shot dead in French class.
Juan Ramon Ortiz, from Puerto Rico, decorated his parentsâ€™ one-story concrete house each Christmas. A neighbor heard Ortizâ€™s mother scream when she learned of her sonâ€™s death.
Here are the faces, the names and the stories of some of those killed Monday. Many of the stories about the victims have come from MSNBC.com readers.
Ross Abdallah Alameddine, 20, of Saugus, Mass. He was a sophomore English major who was gunned down in French class.
Alameddine’s mother, Lynnette Alameddine, said Tuesday that she was “trying to get through the day here.”
“Horrifying, really horrifying. Iâ€™m just trying to keep it together,” she said.
Alameddine was a graduate of Austin Preparatory School in Reading, Mass.
Friends created a memorial page on Facebook.com that described Alameddine as “an intelligent, funny, easy going guy.”
“You’re such an amazing kid, Ross,” wrote Zach Allen, who also attended Austin Prep, according to his profile. “You always made me smile, and you always knew the right thing to do or say to cheer anyone up.”
Lynnette Alameddine said she was outraged by how the events were handled. “It happened in the morning, and I did not hear (about Ross’s death) until a quarter to 11 at night,” she said. “That was outrageous. Two kids died, and then they shoot a whole bunch of them, including my son.”
Jamie Bishop, 35, an instructor in German and German literature. According to his Web site, Bishop spent four years living in Germany, where he “spent most of his time learning the language, teaching English, drinking large quantities of wheat beer, and wooing a certain frÃ¤ulein.”
The “frÃ¤ulein” was Bishopâ€™s wife, Stephanie Hofer, who also teaches in Virginia Techâ€™s German program.
From 2000 to 2005, Bishop was an academic technology liaison at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, according to WRAL TV.
At Virginia Tech, he also taught classes via the Faculty Development Institute on different computer programs and the use of blogs and other online tools in higher education, WRAL said.
He received his undergraduate and master’s degrees from the University of Georgia.
Brian Bluhm, 25, was born in Iowa and raised in Detroit, according to friends.
Bluhm was an ardent fan of the Detroit Tigers Major League Baseball team, which announced his death before Tuesdayâ€™s game against Kansas City.
“He went to a game last weekend and saw them win, and Iâ€™m glad he did,â€ said Bluhmâ€™s close friend Michael Marshall of Richmond, Va.
The masterâ€™s student in water resources received his undergraduate degree in civil engineering at Virginia Tech and was getting ready to defend his thesis. He already had accepted a job in Baltimore, Marshall said.
Bluhm moved from Iowa to Detroit to Louisville, Ky., before coming to Virginia. His parents moved to Winchester while he was in school, so Blacksburg became his real home, Marshall said.
Bluhm also loved Virginia Techâ€™s Hokies football team, and a close group of friends often traveled to away games. But Marshall said it was his faith and work with the Baptist Collegiate Ministries that his friend loved most.
â€œBrian was a Christian, and first and foremost thatâ€™s what he would want to be remembered as,â€ he said.
Ryan Clark, 22, from Martinez, Ga., a biology, English and psychology major. He was a resident adviser on the fourth floor of the dorm where the rampage began.
Just a month from graduation, he was a member of the Marching Virginians Band and intended to pursue a Ph.D. in psychology. Called “Stack” by his friends, Clark carried a 4.0 grade-point average, said Vernon Collins, coroner in Columbia County, Ga.
“He was just one of the greatest people you could possibly know,” Gregory Walton, a friend who graduated last year, said as he fought tears. “He was always smiling, always laughing. I don’t think I ever saw him mad in the five years I knew him.”
Arielle Perlmutter posted on MSNBC.com that she had been friends with Ryan for a decade. “Ryan and I worked at Camp Big Heart, a camp for children and adults with special needs for part of every summer since I was in high school,” she posted. “Ryan was one of the most amazing, loving and caring young men I have ever met. He went into every day of camp, trying as it could be, with a smile and a open mind. I rarely, in the years I knew Ryan, saw him frown.
“Ryan directed the music/dance program at camp and brought cheer to all the campers around him. He was constantly smiling and dancing, signing and cheering. The campers would gather around Ryan and hug him. We have a picture of a year that Ryan was at camp on his birthday. All of the campers were surrounding him, hugging him, and all you could see of him was his head sticking out above the crowd. They all loved ‘Mr. Ryan’. Camp will never be the same and we will all bear the scar of this tragedy for many years to come. Ryan will never be forgotten, and always be missed.”
Perlmutter, 27 and a teacher in Buford, Ga., later told MSNBC.com that Clark had always wanted to work with kids. â€œWeâ€™d joked about him coming to work at my school, so that we’d be closer.”
“I donâ€™t think thereâ€™s enough words to explain how you feel when someone passes,â€ she said. “But he was one step above a lot of people.”
Austin Cloyd, 18, was a freshman majoring in international studies and French.
Cloyd, from Blacksburg, was so inspired by an Appalachian service project that helped rehabilitate homes that she and her mother started a similar program in their Illinois town, her former pastor said.
The Cloyds were active members of the First United Methodist Church in Champaign, Ill., before moving to Blacksburg in 2005, the Rev. Terry Harter said. The family moved when Cloydâ€™s father, C. Bryan Cloyd, took a job in the accounting department at Virginia Tech, Harter said.
Harter, whose church held a prayer service for the family Tuesday night, described Cloyd as a â€œvery delightful, intelligent, warm young ladyâ€ and an athlete who played basketball and volleyball in high school. But it was the mission trips to Appalachia that showed just how caring and faithful she was, he said.
â€œIt made an important impact on her life, thatâ€™s the kind of person she was,â€ he said.
Jocelyne Couture-Nowak, age unknown, a French language teacher and former Montreal resident, according to the Canadian Broadcasting Corp.
Couture-Nowak was instrumental in the creation of the first French school in a town in Nova Scotia.
She lived there in the 1990s with her husband, Jerzy Nowak, the head of the horticulture department at Virginia Tech.
Richard Landry, a spokesman with the francophone school board in Truro, Nova Scotia, said Couture-Nowak was one of three mothers who pushed for the founding of the Ecole acadienne de Truro in 1997.
â€œIt was very important for her daughters to be taught in French,â€ said Rejean Sirois, who worked with her in establishing the school.
Elizabeth Taggart, of Reston, Va., posted to MSNBC.com that she had stayed in touch with her freshman French teacher despite switching to Spanish last semester.
“My Spanish class was in the classroom in Norris right after hers at 10:10,” said Taggart. “She and I had reconnected this semester since I would always arrive early to keep up with my French.”
Taggart remembers her former teacher as “one of the most caring, loving teachers I have met on our campus, an incredible professor and woman.”
Daniel Perez Cueva, 21, a student from Peru who was studying international relations. He was shot during French class, according to his mother, Betty Cueva.
“[Daniel] was very close to his mother,” an anonymous poster from Woodbridge, Va., wrote to MSNBC.com. “Every time she came to my house, she would tell me stories of how well he was doing in VTech and how proud she was of her son.”
He was also a member of Peru’s swim team.
His father, Flavio Perez, spoke of the death earlier to RPP radio in Peru.
He lives in Peru and said he was trying to obtain a humanitarian visa from the U.S. Consulate. He is separated from Cueva, who said she had lived in the United States for six years.
A spokesman at the U.S. Embassy in Lima said the studentâ€™s father â€œwill receive all the attention possible when he appliesâ€ for the visa.
Kevin Granata, 45, an engineering science and mechanics professor who was married and had three children. He had served in the military and later conducted orthopedic research in hospitals before going to Virginia Tech, where he and his students researched muscle and reflex response and robotics.
Department chief Ishwar Puri said Granata was one of the top five biomechanics researchers in the country, working on movement dynamics in cerebral palsy.
Engineering professor Demetri Telionis said Granata was successful, but also kind. “With so many research projects and graduate students, he still found time to spend with his family and he coached his children in many sports and extracurricular activities,” Telionis said. “He was a wonderful family man. We will all miss him dearly.”
Matthew Gwaltney, 24, was on the brink of finishing his graduate degree and was planning to return to his hometown for a new job and to be near his parents.
He was a masterâ€™s student in civil and environmental engineering and was attending Virginia Tech on a fellowship, his father, Greg Gwaltney, said Wednesday from his home in Chester, near Richmond.
â€œMatt came home Thursday night. He had an interview in Richmond Friday morning, and we got to have dinner with him,â€ said Linda Gwaltney, his stepmother. â€œHe went back to school Friday after his interview.â€
It was the last time they saw their only child.
Gwaltney had been his high school newspaperâ€™s sports editor and was named â€œBest guy to take home to your parents,â€ his high school principal, Robert Stansberry, said.
At Virginia Tech, where he also earned his undergraduate degree, his favorite place was Cassell Coliseum, his parents said.
â€œHe went to every womenâ€™s and menâ€™s basketball game, and went to every football game,â€ Linda Gwaltney said. â€œIf there was a football game, we knew he wasnâ€™t coming home that weekend.â€
Caitlin Hammaren, 19, of Westtown, N.Y., was a sophomore majoring in international studies and French, according to officials at her former school district.
â€œShe was just one of the most outstanding young individuals that Iâ€™ve had the privilege of working with in my 31 years as an educator,â€ said John Latini, principal of Minisink Valley High School, where she graduated in 2005. â€œCaitlin was a leader among our students.â€
Minisink Valley students and teachers shared their grief Tuesday at a counseling center set up in the school, Latini said.
Vanessa Oravec posted on MSNBC.com that Hammaren was her dorm resident adviser. “She was the nicest person I have ever met,” Oravec wrote.
“She would do anything for you at the drop of a hat without any questions. She was always there to help you, or just talk. Late night she would stop in and say hi whenever she could. She was always dedicated to helping her friends and the community.”
Jeremy Herbstritt, 27, of Bellefonte, Pa. A graduate student in engineering, he had two undergraduate degrees from Penn State, one in biochemistry and molecular biology from 2003, and another in civil engineering from 2006.
â€œTalkie, talkie, talkie, everybody likes to talk,â€ read the description in the Bellefonte High School yearbook of the 1998 graduate. Below was a picture of Herbstritt, with a sly grin, talking on a pay phone.
He grew up on a small farm just outside the central Pennsylvania borough of Bellefonte, where his father, Michael, raised steers and sheep.
His career goal was to be a civil engineer, and he talked of getting into environmental work after school.
â€œHe liked to work on machinery, take a lot of stuff apart and fixed it,â€ said the victimâ€™s grandfather Thomas Herbstritt, 77, of St. Marys. â€œHe was a studious kid.â€
“He was a wonderful student and person, and will be greatly missed,” Amy Sten posted on MSNBC.com, identifying herself as a former teacher of Herbstritt’s.
Rachael Hill, 18, of Richmond, Va., a freshman. She had graduated from Grove Avenue Christian School.
Hill, an only child, was popular and funny, had a penchant for shoes and was competitive on the volleyball court.
â€œRachael was a very bright, articulate, intelligent, beautiful, confident, poised young woman. She had a tremendous future in front of her,â€ said Clay Fogler, administrator for the Grove Avenue school. â€œObviously, the Lord had other plans for her.â€
Her father, Guy Hill, said the family was too distraught to talk about Hill on Tuesday, but relatives were planning to have memorial events later in the week. â€œWe just need some time here,â€ he said tearfully.
Emily Jane Hilscher, 19, from Woodville, Va., according to family friend John McCarthy. She was a freshman majoring in animal and poultry sciences and equine science. “Emily was a beautiful, talented, sweet kid who had a world of potential,” he told MSNBC.com.
McCarthy said Hilscher was known for her love of animals. “She worked at a veterinarian’s office and cared about them her whole life,” he said.
A friend, Will Nachless, 19, said Hilscher “was always very friendly. Before I even knew her I thought she was very outgoing, friendly and helpful, and she was great in chemistry.”
Matthew La Porte, age unknown, from Dumont, N.J., a freshman majoring in university studies. He had been an Air Force cadet at Virginia Tech, according to his former platoon leader, David Wheeler.
La Porte credited the Carson Long Military Institute in New Bloomfield, Pa., with turning his life around during his years there from 1999 to 2005. “I know that Carson Long was my second chance,” he said during a graduation speech, printed in the school yearbook.
“Matthew was an exemplary student at Carson Long whose love of music and fellow cadets were an inspiration to all on campus,” Carson Long said in a statement.
La Porte graduated third in his class and was also drum major for the school’s drum and bugle corps during his senior year.
Jarrett Lane, 22, from Narrows, Va., a senior majoring in civil engineering who was valedictorian of his high school class.
His high school put up a memorial to Lane that included pictures, musical instruments and his athletic jerseys.
Lane played the trombone, ran track, and played football and basketball at Narrows High School. â€œWeâ€™re just kind of binding together as a family,â€ Principal Robert Stump said.
Laneâ€™s brother-in-law Daniel Farrell called Lane fun-loving and â€œfull of spirit.â€
â€œHe had a caring heart and was a friend to everyone he met,â€ Farrell said. â€œWe are leaning on Godâ€™s grace in these trying hours.â€
In a posting on MSNBC.com, Jessica Green wrote that “the small but very close community of Narrows, VA lost a dear friend and an amazing guy. Jarrett Lane was a very humble and down-to-earth guy and there couldn’t have been any sweeter person to have a conversation with. Our small town is feeling the effects of this heinous crime that took place just 20 minutes away.”
Henry Lee, age unknown, born in Vietnam and raised in Roanoke, Va., a freshman majoring in computer engineering. He was the ninth of 10 children, according to the Roanoke Times, and was described by teachers as a serious student.
Liviu Librescu, 76, an engineering science and mechanics lecturer. Born in Romania, he survived the Nazi Holocaust and emigrated to Israel in 1978 before moving to Virginia in 1985.
An Israeli citizen, he had taught at Virginia Tech for 20 years and was internationally known for his work in aeronautical engineering.
“His research has enabled better aircraft, superior composite materials, and more robust aerospace structures,” said Ishwar Puri, the head of the engineering science and mechanics department.
After surviving the Nazi killings, Librescu escaped from communist Romania and made his way to the United States before he was killed in Mondayâ€™s massacre, which coincided with Israelâ€™s Holocaust Remembrance Day.
Librescu’s son, Joe, said his father’s students sent e-mails detailing how the professor saved their lives by blocking the doorway of his classroom from the approaching gunman before he was fatally shot.
â€œMy father blocked the doorway with his body and asked the students to flee,â€ Joe Librescu said from his home outside Tel Aviv, Israel. â€œStudents started opening windows and jumping out.â€
G.V. Loganathan, 51, an Indian-born lecturer at the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering.
“We all feel like we have had an electric shock, we do not know what to do,” his brother G.V. Palanivel told the NDTV news channel in India. “He has been a driving force for all of us, the guiding force.”
Loganathan, who was born in the southern Indian city of Chennai, had been at Virginia Tech since 1982.
Married with two daughters, he won several awards, including the university’s prestigious Wine Award for Excellence in Teaching.
Loganathan had served on the faculty senate and was an adviser to about 75 undergraduate students.
“Dr. G.V. Loganathan was my favorite professor and was my graduate advisor when I was a civil engineering student at Virginia Tech in the late 80’s and early 90’s,” Glenda La Rue said in a posting on MSNBC.com. “Dr. Loganathan was an excellent teacher and mentor … I will always remember him for his kind heart and patience he displayed towards me and his other students. He truly had a passion for teaching and getting to know his advisees. He was a primary reason that I chose to pursue a career in the engineering specialty of water resources and I credit much of my success to him. He will be missed greatly.”
Partahi Lombantoruan, 34, of Indonesia, was a civil engineering doctoral student. He had been studying at at Virginia Tech for three years, said his father, Tohom Lumbantoruan, a 66-year-old retired army officer.
Lumbantoruanâ€™s family in Indonesia said they sold off property and cars to pay his tuition and that his goal was to become a teacher in the United States.
â€œWe tried everything to completely finance his studies in the United States,â€ said his father. â€œWe only wanted him to succeed in his studies, but … he met a tragic fate.â€
His stepmother, Sugiyarti, said he had called almost daily to talk to the family. In their last conversation he had asked for the latest news on Indonesian politics.
â€œWhy can people bring guns to campus?â€ she asked, weeping. â€œHow is it possible that so many innocent people could be killed? How could it happen?â€
An aunt, 53-year-old Christina Panjaitan, said her nephew was hardworking, intelligent and never complained. â€œHe told me he wanted to teach in America,â€ she said.
Family members were planning a public burial in the Indonesian capital, Jakarta.
Lauren McCain, 20, of Hampton, Va., an undergraduate majoring in international studies.
On her MySpace page, McCain listed â€œthe love of my lifeâ€ as Jesus Christ.
Her family said McCain became a Christian some time ago.
â€œHer life since that time has been filled with His love that continued to overflow to touch everyone who knew her,â€ the family said in a statement.
Her uncle Jeff Elliott told The Oklahoman newspaper that she was an avid reader, was learning German and had almost mastered Latin. She was home-schooled, he said, and had worked at a department store for about a year to save money for college.
She spent several years of her childhood in Oklahoma, but her fatherâ€™s Navy career also took the family to Florida, Texas and then to Virginia.
Daniel O’Neil, 22, of Lincoln, R.I. A graduate student in environmental engineering, he also played guitar and wrote his own songs, which he posted on a Web site, www.residenthippy.com.
Friend Steve Craveiro described him as smart, responsible and a hard worker, someone who never got into trouble.
â€œHe would come home from school over the summer and talk about projects, about building bridges and stuff like that,â€ Craveiro said. â€œHe loved his family. He was pretty much destined to be extremely successful. He just didnâ€™t deserve to have happen what happened.â€
Oâ€™Neil graduated in 2002 from Lincoln High School in Rhode Island and graduated from Lafayette College in Easton, Pa., before heading to Virginia Tech, where he was also a teaching assistant, Craveiro said.
A Lafayette publication said that while there Oâ€™Neil was vice president of the Arts Society. His high school yearbook noted he was on the cross country and outdoor track teams, the drama club and the National Honor Society, according to the Providence Journal.
Juan Ortiz, 26, a graduate student in civil engineering from Puerto Rico, was killed while teaching a class, his father said.
Ortiz graduated magna cum laude from the Polytechnic University of San Juan, Puerto Rico, and arrived at Virginia Tech last August. He was married to a fellow student pursuing a teaching career, and they had planned to have a child soon.
“He was an extraordinary son,” his father, Juan Ramon, said. “On his wedding day, I told him … what I felt in my heart, I thanked him for being my son, it was special.”
Ortiz was also in a band with his father and other relatives. “He loved salsa dancing,” his father said.
Minal Panchal, 26, a first-year building science student from Mumbai, India, according to foreign ministry spokesman Navtej Sarna.
She wanted to be an architect like her father, who died four years ago.
Panchal was very keen to go to the United States for postgraduate studies and thrilled when she gained admission last year, said Chetna Parekh, a friend who lives in the bustling middle-class Mumbai neighborhood of Borivali, where Panchal lived before coming to Virginia Tech.
â€œShe was a brilliant student and very hardworking. She was focused on getting her degree and doing well.â€
Panchal was worried about her mother, Hansa, living alone and wanted her to come to the U.S., neighbor Jayshree Ajmane said. Hansa left earlier this month for New Jersey, where her sister and brother-in-law live.
Ajmane called Panchal a bright, polite girl who would help the neighborhood children with their schoolwork.
Erin Peterson, age unknown, graduated in 2006 from Westfield High School in Chantilly, Va., along with a second victim, Reema Samatha. That is the same high school that the gunman, Cho Seung-Hui, graduated from three years earlier.
It was not known if Cho knew the victims.
Peterson was 6-foot-1 and played center for the schoolâ€™s girls basketball team, helping lead it to a district championship.
â€œShe could do a layup on anyone,â€ said Anna Richter, a high school teammate.
She recalled how Petersonâ€™s parents attended nearly every game and were among the most enthusiastic fans.
Pat Deegan, Petersonâ€™s high school coach, said he couldnâ€™t remember a better leader.
â€œShe was just a super child,â€ William Lloyd, Erinâ€™s godfather, told the Washington City Paper.
â€œHer and her dad, man, you couldnâ€™t separate them. He lost a child from cancer â€” a daughter, 8 years old. A week later, (Erin) was born.â€
Lloyd said that Erin and her father, Grafton Peterson, did part ways on one thing: pro football allegiances. â€œShe was a Redskin,â€ he said. â€œHe was a Cowboy.â€
Michael Pohle, 23, of Flemington, N.J., was expected to graduate in a few weeks with a degree in biological sciences, said Craig Blanton, Hunterdon Centralâ€™s vice principal during the 2002 school year, when Pohle graduated.
â€œHe had a bunch of job interviews and was all set to start his post-college life,â€ Blanton told The Star-Ledger of Newark.
At the high school, Pohle played on the football and lacrosse teams.
One of his old lacrosse coaches, Bob Shroeder, described him as â€œa good kid who did everything that good kids do.â€
â€œHe tried to please,â€ Shroeder told the newspaper. â€œHe was just a great kid.â€
Julia Pryde, age unknown, was a graduate student from Middletown, N.J.
She was an â€œexceptional student academically and personally,â€ said Saied Mostaghimi, chairman of the biological systems and engineering department where Pryde was seeking her masterâ€™s degree.
â€œShe was the nicest person you ever met,â€ Mostaghimi told The Star-Ledger of Newark.
Last summer, Pryde had traveled to Ecuador to research water quality issues with a professor. She planned to return this summer for follow-up work, Mostaghimi said.
A 2001 graduate of Middletown North High School, Pryde was on the schoolâ€™s swim team and played softball in two town leagues.
Her hometown has been touched by tragedy before, losing 37 current and former residents in the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
â€œThe town pulls together in these situations. Everything that we can do for this family, weâ€™ll see what can be done,â€ Middletown Mayor Gerard P. Scharfenberger said.
Mary Read, 19, of Annandale, Va., according to her aunt, Karen Kuppinger, of Rochester, N.Y.
She was born in South Korea into an Air Force family and lived in Texas and California before settling in the northern Virginia suburb of Annandale, said Kuppinger.
Read considered a handful of colleges, including nearby George Mason University, before choosing Tech. It was a popular destination among her Annandale High School classmates, Kuppinger said.
She had yet to declare a major.
“I think she wanted to try to spread her wings,” said Kuppinger, whose niece had struggled adjusting to Virginia Tech’s large campus. She’d recently begun making friends and looking into a sorority.
Kuppinger said the family started calling Read as news reports surfaced.
â€œAfter three or four hours passed and she hadnâ€™t picked up her cell phone or answered her e-mail … we did get concerned,â€ Kuppinger said. â€œWe honestly thought she would pop up.â€
Reema Samaha, 18, from Centreville, Va., a freshman who performed with the school’s Contemporary Dance Ensemble. Her brother Omar, a Virginia Tech graduate, told NBC’s TODAY show that she was shot dead while in French class.
Their father, Joe Samaha, told “Dateline NBC” that “she was a beautiful person and that’s what I’ll remember her as. We’ve lost a very talented beautiful young lady who was growing here at the university. Her heart was in dance and theater and she belonged to a contemporary dance ensemble here and she loved that very much.”
Katerina Rodgaard, in a posting to MSNBC.com, said she had been a dance instructor to Samaha. “I will never forget her constant smile,” she wrote. “So much positive energy. She was such a beautiful dancer as well. … We were all like a family and she will be missed dearly. She loved being in dance class and I was so proud to hear that she continued her dancing in college. So young, so beautiful and so talented. I’m still in shock.”
Samaha had recently taken up belly dancing, a nod to her familyâ€™s roots in Lebanon, where the Samahas visited each summer.
â€œShe was just beautiful and when you watched her, I thought she was one of the most gorgeous girls in the world, inside and out,â€ said Lauren Walters, a former classmate of Samahaâ€™s who now attends Clemson University
Samaha and another victim, Erin Peterson, graduated from Westfield High in Chantilly, Va., in 2006, three years after the alleged gunman, Cho Seung-Hui, graduated from the same school. It was not clear if they knew each other.
Leslie Sherman, age 20, a sophomore majoring in history and international studies.
“Leslie Sherman was a remarkable young lady,” an anonymous poster wrote to MSNBC.com. “Everyone looked up to her.”
â€œShe had a lot of friends, and was a very outgoing person,â€ recalled friend Ann Marks, who worked with Sherman in the cafeteria.
The poster, from Springfield, Va., recalled running cross country and track with Sherman in high school. “She always put 100 percent effort into running, as well as into every other aspect [of]life.”
Maxine Turner, 22, from Vienna, Va., a senior majoring in chemical engineering.
Turner had finished her required credits and was preparing for her May graduation but took German as an elective, said her father, Paul Turner. The 22-year-old was shot in the German class.
â€œShe was very excited â€” she was very excited about school in general,â€ her father said.
An anonymous poster told MSNBC.com that she had been a classmate of Turner’s at James Madison High School in Vienna. “She was at the top of our class and did really well in school … Vienna is a very close, tight-knit community and I know those from our graduating class of 2003 and all other JMHS students past and present are grieving from this tragic loss of life.”
Turner was accepted by a handful of high-profile schools, including Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. But she was determined to be a Virginia Tech Hokie, her father said.
â€œWe tried to convince her to go elsewhere. When you get accepted to Johns Hopkins, itâ€™s a very prestigious school,â€ he said. â€œBut no, she wanted to go to Virginia Tech.â€
Turner recently helped found a chapter of Alpha Omega Epsilon, a sorority for women in engineering. She had accepted a chemical engineering job with W.L. Gore & Associates in Elkton, Md.
â€œItâ€™s a terrible loss,â€ her father said Wednesday, weeping. â€œI cannot understand the legislators in this country, not putting in laws that protect people.â€
Nicole White, age unknown, of Carrollton, Va., a junior majoring in international studies and German.
“I grew up with Nicole White,” Michelle D. Clay, of Toccoa Falls, Ga., wrote to MSNBC.com. “She was one my four best friends, and we all shared everything.”
“I never imagined she would be gone in the blink of an eye.”
Information has been compiled from The Associated Press, NBC News, CollegeMedia.com (the Virginia Tech student newspaper) and other media outlets.
Â© 2007 MSNBC InteractiveMSNBC.com’s Miguel Llanos, Kristin Kalning and Kari Huus contributed to this report