Today is Leslie's 21st birthday. Trouble is, she won't be celebrating--at least not in this world. Leslie died in the Viginia Tech Massacre one year ago next week. She left us last year just one week after celebrating her 20th birthday.
Leslie was not a student of ours. But in reality, she really was. Over the years at Our Humble High School, we got to know her as well as--and in some cases, even better than--her classroom teachers did. Leslie was a member of the Cult known as Cross Country. She was a Trackie, year-round, through and through. Many in our Journalism Suite, over the years, have worshipped at the Altar of Sweat and Endurance. Leslie was BFFs with all of them. Thus, instead of spending her lunch break down at the other end of the building in the Smelly Cafeteria, Leslie chose to spend her time with us Ink-Stained Wretches (although not so Ink-Stained anymore, since we do all of our Expose Writing online now).
Leslie was a student of History. She was majoring in History and International Studies at Tech. Her intellect--as well as her smile--could light up a room, as they say. The pix above--captured at moments of Great Glee (Leslie was perpetually gleeful--her smile was way beyond the cliched "infectious" and way, way beyond a smile that could "light up a room."), capture the Leslie that We Knew. When Leslie smiled, folks took notice. Our favorite photo of her is the one above, taken in 2005 at the National Honor Society's Senior Prom. This event, at a local Senior Citizens' Center, featured the Cherubs from OHHS mingling over cookies and punch with the Old Folks in an act of Community Service. Being Diffident Teens All, even though they were smart DTAs--everyone was shy.
One Older Gentleman, however, really wanted to cut the rug. Leslie jumped up and soon was strutting (she strutted when she walked--although small of stature, by virtue of her personality she was almost always the largest person in the room) across the room, in the arms of the OG, who learned a thing or two that day about youth, enthusiasm and maybe even dancing.
The other photo, taken with one of our Other Cherubs, Brian, upon his arrival in 2006 at Tech, shows Leslie's playful side. She was always up for an outing, even if it were to visit that Hideously Ugly Hokie Bird Thing in the Middle of the Night.
We miss Leslie terribly. We miss her laugh. Her pointed opinions, about everything from Cheetos to The War. And we especially miss her smile. No, she wasn't Our Student. But she touched our lives every day. Happy Birthday, Leslie.