Posted at 9:18 AM ET, 04/17/2008

A Little Sports Therapy

By Joe Kendall

Athletics have always been a unifying force at Virginia Tech, and on the first anniversary of the April 16 shootings, they once again filled that role. A near-record crowd filed into the recently-expanded Virginia Tech softball stadium not to mourn the events from one year ago but to escape them and cheer on their team.

Lisa Sherman, sister of Leslie Sherman, a Tech student killed in Norris Hall, threw out the first pitch in a pre-game ceremony that was simple and understated, just the way it should have been. Instead of the sullen silence that has accompanied such events in the past, the pitch was greeted with cheers and clapping from an excited crowd.

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Posted at 11:21 PM ET, 04/16/2008

Trying to Remember How to Be Happy

By Amrita Raja

Today felt a lot like April 17, 2007.

There was an air of uncertainty: What are we supposed to be feeling? What are we supposed to be doing? We can't be sad forever, so let us try to remember what it was to be happy.

Although that seems like a superficial sentiment, I think it was the one thing that made today meaningful. Remembering to be happy doesn't mean ignoring the reality of a tragedy: It means accepting the past, remembering those we loved and using their strength to go forward.

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Posted at 6:30 PM ET, 04/16/2008

A Walk in the Garden to Remember


A quiet moment in the Hahn Horticulture Garden on April 16, 2008 (By Suzanne Higgs)

By Suzanne Higgs

I've done my best to avoid thinking about April 16th, until today. I didn't go to the 11:45 p.m. vigil last night. I just wasn't ready. I couldn't bring myself to go to the commemoration ceremony this morning either.

Last April, that day was cold, snowy and windy, one of the windiest days I've ever experienced on Blacksburg. I remember walking across the Drillfield that afternoon, and it was blowing me backward.

Today is a stark contrast. It made me feel so much better that the sun is out and that it's a gorgeous day. With this perfect day, I chose to go to the Hahn Horticulture Garden for one of the afternoon tours to clear my head and prepare myself for the rest of today's events.

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Posted at 6:15 PM ET, 04/16/2008

Memories of Leslie

By Amrita Raja

We were walking into our dorm when I said, "So, we should go swimming sometime."

"Well, how about tomorrow?" Leslie asked.

"Tomorrow?"

"Yeah! The pool's still open on Sundays!"

That's how Leslie Sherman, one of the 32 killed on April 16, 2007, and I wound up swimming together on weekends. In between laps, we'd talk about everything from classes to running to the article she'd read about that world-renowned musician in Washington, D.C., who played in the subways but wasn't noticed. I'd talk her into swimming one extra lap before we left; she'd encourage me to run that 5K I'd been thinking about.

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Posted at 4:38 PM ET, 04/16/2008

Sad but Not Defeated

By Austin W.G. Morton

I wake up most mornings at the usual time, slump out of bed and begin my normal routine: give a good stretch, check my phone, quick shower and it's off to class, meetings, errands, etc.

Today my routine is different. There are no classes to attend, no meetings to sit through and no errands to be run. My phone reads "Wed, Apr 16," and I am immediately transported back to my dorm room in Harper Hall, where I woke up and checked my phone just one year ago.

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Posted at 2:43 PM ET, 04/16/2008

A Day of Remembrance

By Shamus Williams

It was a beautiful day on campus: sunny and not a cloud in the sky. It is a far cry from the cold and snowy conditions that confronted students one year ago. And like the weather, today was a much more beautiful celebration than the one that was experienced a year ago.

It was still a solemn day, though, as students, faculty, staff, alumni and everyone associated with the school gathered to remember the 32 lives lost just one year ago today.

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Posted at 12:11 PM ET, 04/16/2008

Notes of Encouragement


Mementos sent to Virginia Tech after April 16, 2007, displayed in the Holtzman Alumni Center (By Amrita Raja)

By Amrita Raja

This morning, I woke up to an inbox with a handful of messages, one of which was from a friend I'd met last summer in France. It had been more than six months since I'd spoken to David, and I was surprised to find his e-mail wishing me "Bon courage" pop up on my screen.

I received a similar e-mail one year ago, from a friend I had never met, sending the thoughts and prayers from herself and her peers at a university in the Netherlands to all of us at Virginia Tech. The long-reaching impact of the events of April 16 has never been clearer to me than on these two days.

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Posted at 11:30 AM ET, 04/16/2008

Support for Va. Tech President Remains

By Shamus Williams

In the days following April 16, the national media directed a lot of blame at Virginia Tech president Charles Steger. We students did our best to stand behind our beleaguered president during that time, and that support has not faltered since.

Beyond his personal actions that day, Steger was criticized for not showing emotion during his school's darkest days, but what outsiders didn't understand is that he is by nature a stoic, quiet individual. He started at Virginia Tech, as a student, and I am sure that he hurt when the school did.

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Posted at 10:05 AM ET, 04/16/2008

Choosing Safety Over Privacy

By Amie Steele

Among all the political debates that arose out of the shootings - gun control, mental health legislation, the university's response to violent situations - one important issue has been sent to the back burner: student privacy.

In the months following the shootings, several panels started to investigate what had happened and tried to figure out how to prevent it from happening again. The panels had difficulty in their first few meetings, however, because they had several issues in accessing the gunman's confidential records.

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Posted at 6:30 AM ET, 04/16/2008

Reclaiming April 16

By Shamus Williams

Earlier this year, the university decided to cancel classes on April 16 in order to honor the lives lost in the shootings and to allow students a day to grieve.

The university made the right decision on this issue, and I hope that officials will consider making it an annual occurrence -- that Virginia Tech will never hold classes on April 16 again. That day has such meaning for the school, and it would be a terrific tribute to the 32 lives lost to reserve the day for commemoration and reflection.

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Posted at 4:30 AM ET, 04/16/2008

The Campus Newspaper a Year Later

By Joe Kendall

During the week of the April 16 shootings The Collegiate Times newsroom was a whirlwind of work and mourning as staff members juggled their responsibilities as both student and journalists. I remember one evening putting together a page dedicated to the victims and being struck by how surreal it all was. Here we were placing the faces of our fallen classmates and teachers on a page, and we were worried about getting the spacing and alignment just right.

As difficult as that first week was, many of the decisions we faced in the subsequent weeks and months were every bit as difficult.

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