Opinion The Tattoo

Five Blacksburg (Va.) High students react to college killings

Seung-Hui Cho, the shooter at Virginia Tech

As many as 32 Virginia Tech students, faculty and employees were gunned down today in Blacksburg, Va. Four high school students in the town wrote today about their reactions for The Tattoo. Another weighed in the next morning.

Shocked, horrified and saddened

A jolt went through my body as I read one person had died and another was injured in the early morning shooting at Virginia Tech. It was hard to believe that something like this could happen in Blacksburg.
Throughout the day, students at Blacksburg High School were on their cell phones, trying to call and text friends and family at Tech to make sure they were alright. Everything was so jammed up and busy, though, that getting through to people was hard.
It was scary not knowing who was ok and who wasn’t, or not being able to get a hold of someone you knew was in West AJ or in Norris Hall.
Plus, the numbers kept going up. I had read one person was dead, and the next thing I knew people were telling me the death count had been confirmed at 22. It was all so surreal, and I didn’t want to believe it.
As the day continued, very little work was done, and most people were glued to tv and com-puter screens. Sadly, the death count continued to rise as we were released from school, went home, and watched the events continue to unfold.
I was shocked, horrified, and saddened that such an event would – or could – occur in my hometown.
Watching this tragedy tear the Tech community apart was heart-wrenching. Seeing it bring everyone together, however, was remarkable. The Hokie Nation is one of great strength, and truly is a family. Not only has the Virginia Tech and Blacksburg community come together after this tragedy, but the state, the nation, and the world have all expressed grief and condolences.
We continue to pray for those who lost their lives and their families and friends, and for all those who have been affected in any way by the unthinkable occurrences. — Hayley Rhodes, a senior at Blacksburg High School in Blacksburg, Va.

Scarred and shattered

This morning we knew one person was dead, a few injured. The school was on lockdown, but we figured that was the worst it would get.
Then the toll went from one, to two, to six. OK., that’s the worst it would get.
Then it jumped from six to eight to 20. There must have been a mistake.
At the press conference, they said 20, the internet said 20, the radio said 20, but 20 was just way too high. Twenty didn’t make sense, but 20 was a reality — and it wasn’t the worst it would get.
As of 8:30 p.m. on Monday, April 16, 2007, the death count is at 33, including a shooter who took his own life.
Our town, our friends and family, and our country witnessed one of the worst mass murders of innocent people – mostly still children — in history.
At least 32 people were killed cold-bloodedly in what will go down in history as the sickest accounting of death in the United States.
Nothing can justify what occurred; no one could ever give a reason.
Our community in Blacksburg was scarred and shattered by these events. Our minds are stained with a memory of pain and injustice.
The only thing we can do is come together as one, as one people, one country, one town, and one family.
We can come together and support each other in this time of utter shock and disbelief.
All we can do is hope, wish, and pray that things will slowly improve, as we begin to learn what happened, why, and what the future holds for a family, a community, shattered.
It doesn’t matter where you are from, who you are, or what you believe. Today we must all come together as one. Today, we are all Hokies. — Ali Greenberg, a sophomore at Blacksburg High School in Blacksburg, Va.

Simply unfathomable

The shocking events that struck our small college town are, simply, unfathomable.
Tragedies like this are always made more horrifying when they are so close to home.
The thirty-two dead today affected people all over the continent, but it happened in what feels like my back yard.
What has impressed me most is the strength of my community, and of a world, coming together across accusations, boundaries, and the wall of shock that struck Blacksburg today.
It worries me, however, that it takes a tragedy like this to bring together nations in a shared sense of support.
I hope that people continue to pray and to care, and I, in turn, am praying and caring for all those affected. –– Sallie Drumheller, a sophomore at Blacksburg High School in Blacksburg, Va.

‘I cannot believe this is happening in my small town’

It seemed like another annoying early Monday morning at Blacksburg High School.
We all went to school as first, second, and third period passed by with no word of any shootings on the Tech campus.
By fourth period — around 10:20 a.m. — our principal, Mr. Hurst, came on the announcements saying that there has been a tragic event at Virginia Tech and that we were ordered to be locked in our classrooms until further notice.
Luckily in my cosmetology classroom we have a tv that gets a few channels. Our whole class began watching horrified as the story unfolded.
We began talking about how many people we knew on campus and hoped that they were safe somewhere.
Around 11:50, we got released to our other classes and to lunch. All of us were so antsy that would could not concentrate on our schoolwork.
So many rumors were spread, with some kids saying 40 were dead and some saying four. But throughout the day, the number just seemed to be getting worse.
I wished the teachers would have given us a straight answer, but really nobody knew a straight answer. Even the teachers were on the edge of their seats wondering if their friends and family were safe.
By my last class, we sat in the library and watched CNN as they showed clips, photos, and stories of what I had missed in my earlier classes.
I was so shocked to hear what had unfolded since I last saw the television.
The thing that kept coming to my mind was: I cannot believe this is happening in my small town of Blacksburg, Va.!
It really began to sink in when my dad, who lives in Texas, left me a voicemail asking “what is going on!” and my mom who is in Connecticut at this point is calling me,
freaking out on my voicemail. Her words were, “Don’t go to work today, go straight home and lock the doors!”
Just after I got home, I began listening to the radio, partly because the wind knocked my tv out.
But I just could not believe this was happening.
Shortly after, I heard President Bush was planning on speaking about the shootings. I was astonished! How could our president of the United States hear about good ol’ small town
I was so touched by his address and proud of him for speaking words of encouragement. This evening, as I drove around the outskirts of Tech campus, I witnessed more cops blocking the entrances of the campus than I’ve ever seen in my life – state, county, and undercover cops.
It just became so much clearer how hard they were really trying to get our calm town back into the condition in once used to be in. I was very proud of the work they did.
So many news channels criticize their efforts, but I think everyone has done a great job in providing a sense of pride and peace in our small football town.
I just wish this wouldn’t have happened and I hope we can look out for those families who lost love ones.
I hope everyone would keep them in your prayers and always remember this day and look back on it in reflection of a tragic day in Blacksburg.
We thank everyone whose effort went into the search and just keep us in your thoughts. — Krista DiRocco, a senior at Blacksburg High School in Blacksburg, Va.

Praying this will never occur again

The gravity of it did not set in on me until the following morning, while I was watching CNN.
The survivors were telling how they stayed alive and what happened when the killer entered their rooms. The disbelief I felt really put sympathy in my heart for the victims’ families.
I just give all the support I have to those affected by this tragic event and I pray this will never occur anywhere else or to anyone else. — Joseph Carr, a sophomore at Blacksburg High School in Blacksburg, Va.