I.

By Liana Bayne, Special Sections Editor

Anderson

Susan Anderson, a math professor and the director of Womanspace, was teaching in the same classroom yesterday, April 16, 2012, that she was five years ago, April 16, 2007.

“Today was a bit odd,” she said. “When the moment of silence occurred, I realized I was teaching in the same classroom, and that gave me a haunted feeling.”

For Anderson, her remembrances of April 16, 2007 are always tied to a dark period in her life.

“My mom went to the hospital on April 17 (2007),” she said. Several weeks after her mother left the hospital, Anderson said, her mother was a Hospice patient. Anderson’s mother passed away shortly after that.

“It’s completely intertwined with my family tragedy,” Anderson said. “I have a hard time thinking of one without the other.”

Anderson said when she went to the hospital in Lynchburg, Va., that her mother was admitted to on April 17, 2007, the workers there were making orange and maroon ribbons to support Virginia Tech. Anderson said it was encouraging to hear people she didn’t know talking about things happening on her campus.

“It was like different circles of sorrow,” she said, dealing with her mother’s declining health and with the aftermath of the campus shootings that happened the day before.

Anderson was working at Monday’s open house in the Center for Peace Studies and Violence Prevention, representing Womanspace. She said Womanspace works with the CPSVP to try to educate people about all kinds of violence.

“I would like students to make a commitment annually to work to lessen violence,” Anderson said. “It isn’t just shooting and murders, it’s sexual assault, verbal abuse, harming children… I would like them to make a commit to making the world better.”

II.

By Liana Bayne, Special Sections Editor

Sims

Guy Sims, assistant vice president for student affairs, still chokes up a little when he thinks about his son’s seventh birthday — April 16, 2007.

Sims was in only his second semester as an administrator at Virginia Tech in spring 2007. He said April 16 was a difficult day. He worked late that night. He expected there would be leftover birthday cake from his son’s party when he went home, and he was looking forward to having a slice of cake after the day’s events.

“When I got home, I saw that they didn’t cut it,” he said. “And the presents were still out, and unopened.”

The next day, April 17, Sims thought he’d celebrate his son’s birthday that evening. But he worked late again.

“I thought, man, I’m not doing what I’m supposed to be at home,” he said. Although the days following the campus shootings meant long work hours, Sims wanted to make sure he celebrated his son’s birthday. A couple days later, they had birthday cake and presents for breakfast before he went to work on campus.

“For a couple years, it really bothered him,” Sims said. “I used to have to make sure to take extra time with him.”

Now, Sims’s son is 13, and isn’t as bothered by his birthday coinciding with the anniversary of the shootings.

Sims, who was enjoying Monday afternoon’s sunny community picnic, said he felt that the whole community of Blacksburg, not just Tech students, had come together well in this year’s remembrance events.

“It’s a wonderful expression of a community that has come to reflect, but also to look forward,” he said.

III.

By Liana Bayne, Special Sections Editor

Lauren Prociv and her twin sister Kathryn decided to come to Virginia Tech because of the April 16, 2007, shootings.

“I remember the day vividly,” Lauren Prociv said. “I hadn’t made the decision to come yet.”

Prociv was in seventh period at Paul VI Catholic High School when she found out.

“My teacher had MSN.com up in class. I remember walking out of class and I was talking to my twin sister. No one had heard about it or knew anything,” Prociv said. “When I went to 8th period, I told my teacher, you need to turn on the news. People didn’t believe me.”

When the Prociv sisters went home, they sat in front of the TV for 10 hours, Lauren Prociv said, watching news coverage.

On April 11, just a few days before, she and Kathryn had toured Tech’s campus. That day, there was a bomb threat called in on Torgersen Bridge, and their tour group had been rerouted through the upper quad.

“It was really scary,” she said.

But Prociv and her sister didn’t feel scared to commit to Tech for both of the undergraduate and graduate studies.

“We weren’t scared,” she said. “Seeing how strong and resilient Tech was,” inspired them, she said.

The Prociv sisters were part of the class of 2008.

“It was strange, but it affected me in a positive way,” Prociv said.

She said she’s seen the student body react strongly to tragedy, even those students who weren’t at Tech in 2007.

“We have a new level of sympathy,” she said. “We know how to act, handle (tragic situations), and help each other and other schools (that experience tragedy).”

Prociv said being a Tech student has “made me be a more cautious, but a better person.”

“I think there’s something about being at Tech that makes you feel like you should cherish every moment,” she said. “That’s not a negative feeling, it’s a positive.”

IV.

By Liana Bayne, Special Sections Editor

Tacy Newell still thinks of the sound of the alert siren near Major Williams Hall on the morning of April 16, 2007.

“This bullhorn kept going, and going, and going,” she said. “’Take cover, this is not a drill.’”

Newell, a retired mother of five, was working part-time as an academic advisor for the natural resources and geography departments in 2007.

She was supposed to be in McBryde Hall, just next door to Major Williams, but chose to stay in her office when she received an email that two people had been shot in a domestic disturbance that morning.

“First, I texted my children that I was okay,” she said. “Then I was getting calls from coworkers, because they thought I was in McBryde.”

One of her coworkers had to come in late, at around 9:30 a.m. “I called her,” Newell said, “and I asked her where she was. She was in the parking lot behind Norris and I said, ‘Karen, get back in the car, lock your door, and go home.’”

Four hours later, a SWAT team told Newell that she was safe to leave the building.

She remembers that it was tax day, so she had to drive to Christiansburg to file.

“I was driving on 460, and I heard on the radio 17 dead, and I almost wrecked,” Newell said. “I had only officially heard two dead in the domestic incident.”

“It was surreal hearing reports that the death count kept rising,” she said.

“I hoped that this would not define Virginia Tech,” Newell said.

V.

By Zach Crizer, editor-in-chief

Hart

Bo Hart was Virginia Tech’s SGA president last year. But in April 2007, he was a senior in high school.

On the morning of the shootings at Tech, Hart was considering his college choices for the following year.

“I remember telling my guidance counselor that morning that I wanted to go to Virginia Tech,” he said Monday while attending the community picnic on the Drillfield.

Watching the news coverage, Hart wondered how such a tragedy could strike in a place like Blacksburg.

“Out of all places, why did it have to be Virginia Tech?” Hart asked.

But as Hart, like the rest of the world, kept his eyes on Tech in the aftermath of the shootings, he saw a university community he wanted to join.

“After watching that, it was when I realized I wanted to be a part of that,” Hart said of the Tech community.

In his years at Tech, his impression of the “Hokie Nation” was only strengthened.

“Being here the past four years, it’s unlike any community in the world,” he said.

VI.

By Priscilla Alvarez and Gina Patterson, news staff writers

Preston

DJ Preston, the sports clubs coordinator for Recreational Sports, missed the bus on his way to class April 16.  When he went to catch the next bus for his 9:30 a.m. class, Blacksburg Transit had stopped the route. Like many others, he sat and watched the news as the death count rose.

“I actually had friends who should have been in class in Norris, but, for what ever reason, didn’t go.” Preston said, “That hits home closer to anything.”

Even though some may not have been directly affected, the tragedy haunted everyone.

“You don’t take for granted that it could have been you,” Preston said.

Five years later, he is still thinking about the family and friends who were directly affected.

“My heart goes out to each and every one of the families who had to go through that,” he said.

In commemoration, Preston attended a community picnic that was held on the Drillfield Monday to mark the 5th anniversary of the shootings.

“A day like today just triggered a whole other level of emotion that you try to suppress,” Preston said.

VII.

By Cody Owens, news reporter

Mary Joan Armstrong, a sophomore psychology major, remembers April 16 vicariously through the vivid images related by her mother.

Armstrong’s mother and her best friend traveled more than four hours to Blacksburg from Sterling, Va., to pick up the latter’s daughter.

Before departing the campus, her mother watched thousands of students light candles on the Drillfield. She said she was amazed that they organized everything in just a few short hours.

“It just happened that day and that night there was such a community response,” said Armstrong. “They banded together and were even closer. I wanted to be a part of a community like that.”