This past weekend was the middle weekend of April. That’s the time universities put on dog-and-pony shows for students who have been admitted, to help them make up their minds.
My daughter has been admitted to several universities, and she managed to narrow it down to James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Virginia, and Virginia Tech. Somewhat at the last minute, she decided she needed to see both campuses to make her final decision.
So on Saturday she and my wife drove down to Blacksburg from our suburban DC home, about a four-hour trip. They stayed near Blacksburg and then spent Sunday in Tech’s pre-orientation sessions.
Monday they had moved up Interstate 81 to JMU, but my daughter had pretty much decided that Tech was the place she wanted to attend. Standing on the campus Sunday, looking around, she began to see herself as a student there.
As I was walking back from the cafeteria in my high school on Monday, one of the Spanish teachers had his classroom TV on. There was a map of Virginia with the town of Blacksburg highlighted. I saw a graphic indicating “21 dead, 21 injured.” It didn’t take long for the news of the massacre to filter through, as well as the instruction from our administration that we were to keep TV sets off and not talk about the news in class.
Many students from our area attend Virginia Tech. It is one of the more competitive universities in the Virginia system. Hokie loyalty is more intense than that of alumni of other places. Hokie pain is now intense. To see Virginia Tech on the front page of all the world’s newspapers because of a rampage that wiped out 33 young lives is deeply disturbing.
My daughter will probably still attend Tech next year. She realizes that Tech is the place she saw on Sunday, not the crazy-man-land it became on Monday. But it will always be unsettling to walk the campus where the worst shooting massacre in American history took place.