Portraits of the dead at Va. Tech emerge

Associated Press • Apr 18, 2007 at 12:21 PM

CENTREVILLE, Va. - Reema Samaha was a dancer, whether it was the classical ballet she studied as a child, the belly dance moves she used for a high school talent show last year or just spinning around the living room with her mother at their suburban Washington home.

"She just danced, and laughed and smiled," said Linda D'Orazio, a neighbor. On Monday, Samaha, 18, was shot and killed at Virginia Tech while she sat in French class. She was one of 32 people killed by 23-year-old Cho Seung-Hui, an English major who went to the same high school as her.

Both graduated from Westfield High School in Chantilly - Samaha in 2006 and Cho in 2003. But Samaha's neighbors and friends said they didn't think she knew Cho.

Samaha was a member of the high school's dance team. She had recently taken up belly dancing, a nod to her family's roots in Lebanon, which the Samahas visited each summer, friends said.

Watching her on stage was captivating, they said.

"She was just beautiful and when you watched her, I thought she was one of the most gorgeous girls in the world inside and out," said Lauren Walters, a Westfield graduate who is now enrolled at Clemson University.

Samaha's house in the neighborhood of tidy two-story homes with grassy yards is only about a mile away from the town house where Cho lived with his parents. On Tuesday, Samaha's parents were in Blacksburg as stunned neighbors stocked the family's kitchen with food, trickling in and out as the afternoon wore on. A large photo of Samaha, a striking woman with long dark hair, sat in the living room next to pictures of her older brother and sister. Her family is of Lebanese descent, with relatives in Beirut, Canada and Europe, according to D'Orazio. "It's a random act of violence. We can't understand how she just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time," said Lu Ann McNabb, whose children grew up across the street from the Samaha family. The neighborhood kids used to make home videos in their back yards, often mimicking their parents, said Danielle Ragole, 23, who lived nearby. McNabb said the parents would sometimes watch the videos when their families got together to play games twice each year, and that "we would laugh our heads off." Westfield High freshman Jace Costa said word had spread Tuesday morning before school that the shooter was a graduate. "I really couldn't believe it," he said. "I couldn't even speak."Ross Abdallah AlameddineAlameddine, 20, of Saugus, Mass., was a sophomore who had just declared English as his major. Friends created a memorial page on Facebook.com that described Alameddine as "an intelligent, funny, easygoing guy." "You're such an amazing kid, Ross," wrote Zach Allen, who along with Alameddine attended Austin Preparatory School in Reading, Mass. "You always made me smile, and you always knew the right thing to do or say to cheer anyone up." Alameddine was killed in the classroom building, according to Robert Palumbo, a family friend who answered the phone at the Alameddine residence Tuesday. Alameddine's mother, Lynnette Alameddine said she was outraged by how victims' relatives were notified of the shooting. "It happened in the morning and I did not hear (about her son's death) until a quarter to 11 at night," she said. "That was outrageous. Two kids died, and then they shoot a whole bunch of them, including my son."Christopher James BishopBishop, 35, taught German at Virginia Tech and helped oversee an exchange program with a German university. Bishop decided which German-language students at Virginia Tech could attend the Darmstadt University of Technology to improve their German. "He would teach them German in Blacksburg, and he would decide which students were able to study" abroad, Darmstadt spokesman Lars Rosumek said. The school set up a book of condolences for students, staff and faculty to sign, along with information about the Virginia shootings. "Of course many persons knew him personally and are deeply, deeply shocked about his death," Rosumek said. Bishop earned bachelor's and master's degrees in German and was a Fulbright scholar at Christian-Albrechts University in Kiel, Germany. According to his Web site, Bishop spent four years living in Germany, where he "spent most of his time learning the language, teaching English, drinking large quantities of wheat beer, and wooing a certain fraulein." The "fraulein" was Bishop's wife, Stephanie Hofer, who also teaches in Virginia Tech's German program. Bishop's personal Web site: http://www.memory39.com

Clark was called "Stack" by his friends, many of whom he met as a resident assistant at Ambler Johnson Hall, where the first shootings took place.

Clark, 22, was from the Augusta suburb of Martinez, Ga. He was a fifth-year student working toward degrees in biology and English, and a member of the Marching Virginians band.

"He was just one of the greatest people you could possibly know," friend Gregory Walton, 25, said after learning from an ambulance driver that Clark was among the dead.

"He was always smiling, always laughing. I don't think I ever saw him mad in the five years I knew him."

Couture-Nowak, a French instructor at Virginia Tech, was instrumental in the push to create the first French school in Truro, Nova Scotia.

She lived there in the 1990s with her husband, Jerzy Nowak, who is the head of the horticulture department at Virginia Tech.

"We're mourning," said Jerry Nowak, who declined to talk more. Richard Landry, a spokesman with the francophone school board in Nova Scotia, said Couture-Nowak had two girls.

Couture-Nowak obtained her degree at the teacher's college in Truro in 1989, Landry said. She taught at a community college and also was a substitute teacher.

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