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Community Watched Convocation in Lane Stadium

by Omar Maglalang and Tricia Sangalang
News Staff Writers
April 17, 2007
Lane Stadium

The crowd standing on the sidewalk silenced early Tuesday afternoon. Many looked down Spring Road, which was blockaded by two motorcycles and an armored state police car, and wondered what was happening. Muffled whispers circulated in the crowd that President Bush was on his way, but a few minutes later police informed the crowd to enter Lane Stadium to proceed to gate 6.

At that moment, people from both sides of the street flocked towards the gates. Inside, it was a sea of orange and maroon. Many students, parents, administrators, and people all over the state, country and even the world sat on the bleachers, while others sat on the dirt ground of Worsham Field.

Many had somber faces. Many were filled with hope, and others seemed afraid and helpless after the massacre of 32 people the day before.

“The events yesterday were just unpredictable,” said Rebecca Greer, an interdisciplinary studies major at Virginia Tech. “It was tragic, but I was very happy that so many people went to the convocation. I thought people might be afraid after what happened, but I think we‘ve come out as a community to support each other in this tragic time.”

Anna Rizzo, a freshman in university studies, also felt that the response by the community showed how much everyone had been affected by the shootings.

“It‘s going to take a lot of time, and it‘s going to take a while to understand why something like this had happened,” she said. “It‘s shocking, and it hasn‘t set in really.”

Like many people who attended the convocation, Greer felt helpless and came to the convocation because she felt that she could do something to show support for the Hokie community.

Lane Stadium

“I was really hoping for a lot of people to come together when I decided to come here (to the convocation),” said Greer. “From being here at Virginia Tech for a while, people here have this sense of community and they just come together during tragic times like these, like, for example, with sporting events, or even the Morva situation last year.”

Along to support the Virginia Tech community in the convocation, several religious groups also gathered to pay respects to the deceased victims and offer grief counseling.

Gerry Scott, from Winston-Salem, NC, a volunteer minister from the Church of Scientology, brought over about 20 members to the convocation Tuesday afternoon.

“We‘re here to help out any way we can,” he said. “If someone needs to talk to someone, or if someone needs to just yell at someone, we‘re here to help.”

Joe Lyons, a youth pastor in Christiansburg, held a large cross in front of Cassell Coliseum and came to the event to bring a symbol of hope for the community.

A member of their church was shot in Norris Hall Monday.

“He was shot in the head and near the spine,” said Lyons. “He‘s doing well and doctors have removed both bullets that went through his body. He‘s coming home today.

“And it‘s a miracle!”

Lyons thought this morning that this incident could have happened in any community. It could happen to any college because of the freedoms in the U.S.

“I felt numb yesterday as this was all unfolding,” he said. “It‘s beyond what I could imagine that could happen in this area.”

Fred Smith came all the way from Atlanta, Ga., and had been to many tragic events over the years such as 9-11 and the Oklahoma City bombing.

Scott offered up grief counseling to help students deal with the incident.

“We‘ll talk to people if they want it,” he said. “If they want a cup of coffee, hey, we‘ll do that. Whatever it takes to give people hope.”

Comments (11)

On Facebook:
Bruce Iberg (SAIC) wrote
one minute ago
It has been posted on many websites that Delta Airlines is offering free flights to family of victims in this horrendous tragedy. If you know someone who might need this kind of help to get to VT, please have them contact The Office of the Dean of Students, they are making all the arrangements. I just wanted to pass this info along to anyone who needs help!

additional info also found on

It's really amazing seeing our country come together at a time like this.

Trent | April 18, 2007 1:51 AM

I would like to send our deepest condolences to the family and friends of VT. I know how painful your now going through just be strong and God would help you to get through with this.

maridell dela cruz (from Philippines) | April 18, 2007 5:11 AM

I and my family are praying for all of the Hokies during this time.
I had fond memories when I was in school in the Residence Halls, my heart goes out to every one in the Residence Halls especially to everyone in AJ. My prayer is that you become an even closer community and talk when you want to talk and that your grieving can be as public or private as you want it to be. Grieving helps the healing.

Paul in California

Paul | April 18, 2007 11:46 AM

We are obligated by this sacrifice and loss to affirmatively develop and institute a systematic means to continually assess for predators such as Cho, We have a responsibility to these these lost lives to develop a deliberate framework for constant assessment to weed out these individuals and this means increased security, increased surveillance and intelligence gathering, let our constant vigilance be our monument to the students lost at VT

dave | April 18, 2007 11:55 AM

Thanks for the great coverage y'all. Still doing a great, great job. Keep up the fine work. Peace!

steven | April 18, 2007 12:37 PM

my deepest condolences 2 all the friends and family of VT..I would like you all 2 know that we are praying for you and hoping that our lord brings peace 2 your heart...

esther bordoni | April 18, 2007 12:55 PM


kathy | April 18, 2007 12:59 PM

This is from one soul to all.

Virginia Tech
" No Place for Hate"

It's hard to comprehend all the pain and agony.
The result of America's worst murderous tragedy.
Innocent victims of every age.
Lost their lives because of one man's psychotic rage.
For the loved ones, who could find no place to hide.
For the heroes and those who heard the bullets echo worldwide.
Fathers, sons, mothers,daughters,and friends in grief.
May God bless you all, and may your loved ones rest in peace.

Now is the time to heal all wounds.
And work our way through this time of gloom.
We must come together,
And support each other.

Always remember and never forget.
Virginia Tech is great.
Virginia Tech has no place for hate.

Aric S.D. Wilson
Myrtle Beach, S.C.

Aric Wilson | April 18, 2007 3:43 PM

It seems these tragedies are happening more frequently in lifetimes before us also; it weakens us; it keeps us hopeless; it drains us; it is not the work of God but a different type of ruthless entity to drive anyone to this point is unfair and abusive. Hearing this person was not the person that would have committed this act is hard to ingest. Keeping people in question is a wrongful game for wrong outcomes.

David | April 18, 2007 3:59 PM

I would like to send my deepest condolences to all those suffering this grave loss at VT. There are no words to ease the sorrow you feel, only time. There are so many mistakes that keep repeating themselves in this world. We can only hope that this will help those who can change laws to do so and that these lost lives will not be in vein.

Deb | April 18, 2007 4:19 PM

Volunteer efforts are usually welcome, but it would be good to remember that the Scientology "volunteer ministers" are there with an agenda. They have been accused of trying to divert victims away from legitimate mental health services at other disaster areas. For example:

Eldon | April 20, 2007 2:58 AM