April 20, 2007
AUGUSTA, Ga.---Paine College opened the doors of its chapel earlier today for a memorial service in honor of Ryan Clark and the others who were killed at Virginia Tech. The ceremony was held also to help the students at Paine deal with their own sorrow and grief.
They lit candles as a symbol of faith, hope and love, but most of all for strength.
The college held the vigil at the campus chapel after deciding that it was the right thing to do and because they wanted to make a difference. Though Ryan Clark wasn't a student at Paine, he made an impact on campus.
"I think we all feel for all the students and the persons affected...so deeply that we wanted to do something," said Rev. Jerry Poole.
Rev. Poole, Dr. Macie King, and Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity coordinated the vigil. Dr. King says that their hearts go out to the victims and to their own students dealing with the pain.
"We needed to do something to show our support and our sympathy with the issues of pain and suffering," Dr. King said.
"Our Rev. Poole here decided to do something together as a joint venture with Kappa Alpha Psi as well as the whole campus, so instead of it being a fraternity event, it's a campus-wide community event," said Derrek Wright, president of Kappa Alpha Psi at Paine.
"Being at a Christian institute, we would hope that it wouldn't happen here, but I mean it is open to happen anywhere," said student Omri Miles.
"A lot of times young people think like 'it can't happen to me' or 'it won't be me', but you never know," student Cervantes Boddy said.
"Here at Paine College we don't know if somebody might wake up one morning and do that here or at any other school," said student Daniel Lomax.
Even though the event had only been planned 24 hours earlier, a good crowd showed up. Many students say they left class early or didn't go so that they could attend the service. They say they were drawn to the chapel and there wasn't anywhere else they'd rather be.
"Just to pay respects and tributes to those people who lost their lives," Lomax said. "I think that is very important to do."
"This is devastating," said Virginia Tech graduate Sam Nicholson. "I just wanted to show my support from one Virginia Tech alum to the Clark family and to all the rest of the victims of the tragedy."
During the service, the university took up an offering. Rev. Poole says the money will be given to a trust at Georgia Bank and Trust for the family of Ryan Clark to help with funeral expenses.
If you didn't get a chance to get to Paine's memorial, another one will be held tomorrow at Lakeside High School, where Clark graduated. That service will begin at 4 pm.
Funeral services for Ryan Clark will be held on Monday, April 23 at noon at Tabernacle Baptist Church on Laney Walker Boulevard.