The surprise & jubilation of that morning quickly morphed to shock & deep, deep sadness as we heard the news. A lunatic had shot a couple of students down at Virginia Tech University. Two students became 10. Ten students became 20+. When all was said & done, 33 lay dead on the Tech campus, including the gunman.
Our Humble High School is one of many "feeder"schools to VA Tech. In any given year, we send up to 50+ grads down to the picturesque Blacksburg campus, nestled in the Appalachian foothills near Roanoke. As one of my colleagues said a couple of days after the Tech shootings, "We're definitely a Hokie campus."
Springtime will never be the same at Our Humble High School.
About 250 of our grads were enrolled at VA Tech on April 16, 2007. One of them was Leslie Sherman, who graduated from OHHS in 2005, and had just celebrated her 20th birthday.
Leslie's laugh was infectious, her enthusiasm even more so. She loved life and, clichés aside, lived it beyond the fullest. As a Washington Post tribute said of this effusive, exciting young woman, "She was the unofficial team cheerleader, whatever the team."
Leslie ran cross country and track. She had finished the Marine Corps Marathon the previous October, & had her sites set on NYC the following fall. She never took one of my classes, but I knew her quite well. Leslie spent the better part of her 4 years in high school "dining" during lunch in my classroom, with her cross country buddies who worked on the newspaper & yearbook staffs.
Leslie also loved...and lived for...her friends. I remember where Leslie sat each day, at the table near the blackboard on the left-hand side of the room. I remember her laugh. I remember a happy kid., with a heart that was big enough for everyone.
One of Leslie's favorite things to do as a high school student was to grab her camera on a beautiful Spring day and record snap after snap...of trees in bloom, of the paddleboats down at the Tidal Basin, of the stern but sensitive countenance of Mr. Lincoln down at the DC Memorial dedicated in his name.
Another of Leslie's passions was languages. She had just about mastered French, & wanted to tackle Russian. She was silly, but serious, too. She liked to quote Forrest Gump. And her kindness was legendary.
Leslie was in her French classroom at Tech, on the second floor of Norris Hall, when she died. She was one of 32 victims in the deadliest shooting by a lone gunman in this nation's history. Her family, her friends, her classmates, her teachers, still remember her.
Every Spring, we will pay tribute Leslie Sherman. We will neVer forgeT.
Yet another April entry in the Random Complexity Writing Challenge. 511 words.