Resilient Hokies Return to Finish School Year
RENEE MONTAGNE, host:
Today, students and professors return to classes exactly one week after a gunman opened fire at Virginia Tech. Those students who left campus after the shooting have been returning, and NPR's Noah Adams brings us a few of their stories.
NOAH ADAMS: We met Kevin Care(ph) at a parking lot that was quickly filling up. Kevin is a freshman from Warrenton, Virginia. Late last Tuesday he decided to leave this campus, and he offers this word to best describe the trip back home.
Mr. KEVIN CARE (Student, Virginia Tech): Quiet. Just kind of me and my thoughts. The kid who was driving me, he was real quiet, too. I had to answer a couple phone calls and talk to people about - and asking how I was, but it was really a lot of just meditating on yourself and your friends and how much everything means to you.
ADAMS: And that's what worked best during his time in Warrenton, just hanging out with old friends. It worked best once the questions were out of the way.
Mr. CARE: Everyone's asking you, you know, were you there? Did you know anyone? And I was. I mean, I heard shooting so I did talk about it a lot more than I wanted to. I would have rather just kind of not talked about it, enjoy being kind of away.
ADAMS: The questions were also an issue for J.P. Nelson(ph), a freshman from Alexandria, Virginia.
Mr. J.P. NELSON (Student, Virginia Tech): Monday completely changed whenever I talked about it - definitely hard to talk about at times. Especially, like, some people just don't know how to ask the right questions, so it kind of brought out some strange emotions.
ADAMS: Many of those questions, J.P. Nelson says, came up during a visit to his old high school in Alexandria. He was pleased, though, to see so many of the students there wearing maroon and orange, the Tech colors. He was there on Friday, and that was Hokie Hope Day.
For Kristin Allen(ph) - sophomore, Woodbridge, Virginia - it was good being home; good support, not much talking. Coming back to Blacksburg is difficult.
Ms. KRISTIN ALLEN (Sophomore, Virginia Tech): It's weird seeing so many people here. It kind of reminds you of what happened. I - you know, it kind of, sort of left my mind when I was home, and then I came back here and it kind of hits you again.
ADAMS: Chris Lafabadie(ph) was rolling his luggage through the parking lot. He also returned from Northern Virginia.
Mr. CHRIS LAFABADIE (Student, Virginia Tech): I haven't seen the news ever since Tuesday. So I don't really feel like catching up on it. I've got to take a few finals, and then I'm out of here. I'm leaving as soon as possible. Just need to bring up my organic chemistry grade and that's about it.
ADAMS: The freshman we first heard from, Kevin Care, is concerned about the few weeks ahead.
Mr. CARE: This is a lively campus at Tech - just coming back and seeing how quiet it is and how solemn everyone is, the Drillfield being turned into a memorial. We need to remember all the people that died, and we need to keep memorials up and pray for them and all this. But we really need to come back to a semblance of our own lives so that others don't fall apart because of this.
ADAMS: Kevin Care, talking with us outside the Virginia Tech student union. Final exams for the spring semester are May 9th. This morning, campus life pauses twice for silence and the tolling of bells in memory of those who died last Monday.
Noah Adams, NPR News, Blacksburg, Virginia.
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