Tuesday, February 26, 2008

NIU Students Resume Classes, Search for Meaning
Lillian Kwon
Christian Post Reporter
Mon, Feb. 25 2008 08:29 AM ET

Classes at Northern Illinois University resume Monday for the first time since the Feb. 14 shootings that killed five students plus the gunman.
Mourners gather outside the NIU Convocation Center before the start of a memorial service on Sunday, Feb. 24, 2008 for the five students killed on Valentine's Day in Dekalb, Ill.
Church Services Focus on NIU Shooting
Prayers of Hope, Healing Surround Ill. Campus
"This past week, I have seen despair and I have seen hope," NIU President John G. Peters said, according to The Associated Press. "I have seen deep sorrow of the five victims' families, but I have seen your courage and I have seen your strength."
Over the weekend, students returned to campus, where memories of the rampage gripped students more than a fear of violence.
"It's not necessarily that we're scared that there's going to be someone with a gun," said senior Kristen Bortolotti from Elgin, to AP. "It's the memories of what we saw."
Former NIU graduate student Steve Kazmierczak opened fire at Cole Hall, killing five students before taking his own life. Six white crosses bearing the names of the shooting victims were placed around the center of campus days after the tragedy.
"Everybody's going to think about it when they're in a classroom. It's always going to be there in your life," said Quinn Bell, 20, a junior in pre-med, as reported by USA Today. "It makes you think about what's important in life."
More than 12,000 people gathered in the school's Convocation Center on Sunday for a memorial to remember those who lost their lives. A large banner outside the center read, "Forward, together forward." As photos of each victim were projected on screens, a choir sang the hymn, "Take My Hand, Precious Lord."
The five victims are: Daniel Parmenter, 20; Catalina Garcia, 20; Gayle Dubowski, 20; Ryanne Mace, 19; and Julianna Gehant, 32.
"Now they are lost, but still loved," Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich said Sunday. "Their memory is a blessing — not just because of their spirit and intelligence, their love and their laughter, their curiosity and their friendship. Their memory is a blessing because it compels us all to search for meaning."
A special website has been created for students to help them answer the spiritual questions raised by the tragedy, said Brent Batiste, NIU campus director for Campus Crusade for Christ (CCC).
The NIU administration has called on support from CCC to help provide emotional support to students and staff as they begin classes.
Extra police and security will be on campus along with some 550 volunteer counselors.
Cole Hall will be closed for the rest of the semester.

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