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Vigil Honors Virginia Tech Victims, Survivors on Somber Anniversary

Student Government Association President Andrew S. Wisner delivers remarks.Students console each other during a video tribute to Virginia Tech victims.One year after tragedy struck the Virginia Tech campus, Pennsylvania College of Technology students, faculty, staff and administrators gathered Wednesday night to remember the victims and recommit to an environment that strives for safety and civility.

“We are a diverse group of people from different majors, states and ethnicities, but “in times of need and misfortune, (we) band together to show support for the less fortunate,” said Andrew S. Wisner, Student Government Association president.

The welding and fabrication engineering technology major from York was among the speakers at a half-hour candlelight vigil, held to honor the students and faculty killed in the April 16, 2007, shooting spree that left 32 people and the gunman dead.

Students sign a support poster to be sent to Virginia Tech.“The actions that our administration takes to ensure our safety are undeniably amazing,” he said. “However, it’s not necessarily the big things that make the difference in our community. The small things like holding doors, helping other students and reporting suspicious behavior are what make Penn College not only unique, but safe and friendly. Over the past year, I have seen all of these happen. And I am thankful that we have dedicated personnel that care for us and listen to our needs.”

Members of SGA and the Residence Hall Association distributed candles to the crowd assembled on the Bush Campus Center patio, Wildcats lighting beacons of solidarity with their Hokie brothers and sisters 400 miles away.

VT alumnus Eric Reiber addresses the vigil audience.Among the evening’s other speakers was college President Davie Jane Gilmour, who, while acknowledging that the world changed forever a year ago, urged participants to “focus on the good in your life and future” and to honor the victims in the best way possible: by making a difference.

With words she earlier shared with a longtime friend at Virginia Tech, the president reminded students and others that it is that “promise of tomorrow that makes today so special.”

Israel Laguer and Shadra D. Smith listen to Penn College Police Chief Chris Miller.Penn College Police Chief Chris Miller shared several stories of heroism and hopefulness in the midst of the Virginia Tech shootings, and a special guest Eric Reiber, a 2007 VT graduate now in campus ministry at Lock Haven University told of the three factors (community, friends and faith) that helped him and his campus survive “the worst day imaginable.”

Also taking part were event organizer Shadra D. Smith, assistant director for programming in the Student Activities Office, and Israel Laguer, coordinator of residence life at Rose Street Apartments.

Staff from the executive offices, including the President's Office, Academic Affairs, Business Affairs, Student Affairs and Institutional Advancement join the student body and campus community in marking the one-year anniversary of the Virginia Tech tragedy.Thevigil also featured a brief video remembrance compiled by Thornton H. Redman, a pre-physician assistant student from York and a Resident Assistant at the Rose Street housing complex.

Wednesday had been approved as a “dress-down” workday for college employees, many of whom donned Virginia Tech’s maroon and orange in tribute.

The College Store contributed commemorative T-shirts in the school’s colors, embossed with the message, “Pennsylvania College of Technology Today we are all Hokies,” and awareness ribbons were distributed at the CC Information Desk.

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