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Virginia Tech Tragedy Affects All Ages

by Alexandra Sarris
Contributing Writer
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.


Comments (3)


Schools and businesses in Southern California have likewise shown their support for the Hokies during this period. At my newspaper in San Bernardino County, Virginia Tech buttons were passed out to all employees, and donations to the memorial fund were solicited.

Beau | April 23, 2007 3:16 PM

Great America and American,Ilove you.

--Chinese from beijing

Chinese | April 23, 2007 6:29 PM

Certified Delta Society therapy dog volunteers in the Blacksburg area immediately rallied (led by Hallie Stanley, President of TheraPets of Roanoke Valley)in response to the VT shootings and offered the services of their comforting therapy-dog teams to anyone needing it. Working through the office of the President, they were put in touch with the Red Cross who welcomed their help. However, university officials later rescinded their invitation and said they were afraid of too much dog hair and a lawsuit should anything "go wrong".(These dogs are so well trained and reliable that the Delta Society insures against anything "going wrong".)
It's incredulous that insane people with guns are allowed on campus to repeatedly kill people when certified therapy dog teams are BLOCKED from providing comfort. What are they thinking?

anonymous | April 24, 2007 10:41 AM