Virginia Tech Tragedy Affects All Agesby Alexandra Sarris
April 23, 2007
The message that has been put in effect is, “We Are All Hokies.”
In Maryland and Washington D.C. area schools, the message has been clear and supported.
While those on the college level have been able to understand the tragedy in its entirety, those younger in age have been trying to comprehend it. Ritchie Park Elementary School, in Potomac, Md., was one among the many elementary schools that honored Virginia Tech.
Principal Bonnie Dougherty’s first thoughts were, “Oh my God, not again.” Dougherty expressed that explaining the tragedy to her kindergarten through fifth graders has been nothing short of difficult.
“You have to be really careful what you say to these kids. I had to let go of a sub because she gave too much information out to one of the classes and I had parents call me very upset,” Dougherty said.
Aside from informing the children properly, there is a strong responsibility for parents to monitor and raise their children. “Much of the anger from kids these days starts right here at these ages. I thought of many kids in this school that could lead up to severe anger problems. Parents truly have to be a part of their child’s life,” said Dougherty.
All of Ritchie Park’s staff was proudly wearing maroon and orange on Friday. Similarly, St. Johns College High School in Washington, D.C. had a dress-down day to honor Tech.
At 9:10 a.m., the loud speaker was taken over to express sympathy and support for the tragedy. Along with a moment of silence, students and staff said a prayer for those lost, injured, and mourning.
The principal of SJC, Jeffrey Mancabelli, thought instantly of his 19 alumni that attend Tech. “We instantly started making calls and text messaging to make sure that everyone was alright. I kept saying ‘Run the list, run the list,’” said Mancabelli.
A common fear of every principal is for a tragedy to occur at his or her school. Mancabelli said, “I feel empathy for the administration of the institution because they got attacked so instantly. Everyone was so quick to judge how the situation was handled, and I was professionally seeing that.”
Mancabelli was also sure to support Tech through ribbons, prayers, and moments of silence. “I think to myself: What can we do as a community of 1,000 to show our support?” Mancabelli said.
Both Dougherty and Mancabelli expressed that Virginia Tech is not alone. “They should try and be open to all the sympathy and support around them. It’s there. It’s real, and it’s heartfelt,” said Mancabelli.
As the students at Virginia Tech return back to classes today, support will continue from people of all ages, in all regions of the country.