- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 19, 2007

Virginia Tech sophomore Leslie Sherman turned 20 the week before she was killed in French class inside the school’s Norris Hall.

Her best friend, Rebecca McMahan, yesterday recalled baking her a birthday cake, then joining friends to watch her blow out the candles at midnight.

“She’s the best person I know,” said Miss McMahan, who ran on the cross-country team with Miss Sherman at West Springfield High School. “She did everything for the right reasons.”

Miss Sherman, a Springfield resident, was one of the 32 persons killed Monday during a shooting rampage at Virginia Tech. It was deadliest in U.S. history, and six of the victims were from Northern Virginia.

Miss Sherman, a history and international studies major, had planned to study abroad in Russia this summer, Miss McMahan said. She also was considering working in the Peace Corps, then becoming a history teacher.

“She had a lot of big dreams, and she lived in the moment,” said Miss McMahan, her words halted by tears.

Emily Grossman, 19, also was on the West Springfield cross-country and track-and-field teams with Miss Sherman. She said Miss Sherman’s two passions were running and history.

Miss Grossman, a freshman at Florida State University, is now organizing a race in remembrance of Miss Sherman.

“It was really the first thing that I thought of when one of my old teammates called me Monday night about Leslie,” she said. “The first thing I said was: ‘We’ll have to get the team together and run something for her.’ ”

Miss Grossman plans to organize the race this summer and use the proceeds to start a scholarship fund for West Springfield students.

Daniel Perez Cueva, 21, was also in a French class in Norris Hall when he was killed Monday. Originally from Peru, he lived in Woodbridge, Va., and graduated from C.D. Hylton High School in 2004.

One of his teachers described him as motivated, kind and cheerful.

“As soon as I got him, I realized he was extremely goal-oriented and motivated,” said Ginette Cain, chairwoman of the English for Speakers of Other Languages department at Hylton. Mr. Cueva took difficult classes not required of him, she said, and was determined to graduate from college.

He attended a community college in Miami after high school, then Northern Virginia Community College before transferring to Virginia Tech, where he was a junior.

“He was really living his dream,” Mrs. Cain said of Mr. Cueva, who was on the tennis, cross-country and swim teams at Hylton and in the National Honor Society.

“He was always smiling and had that great Latin charm,” she said. “He was there to help. If you were walking in and your load looked too heavy, he would walk up and take it out of your arms.”

Hylton’s principal, Carolyn Custard, visited Mr. Cueva’s mother, Betty Cueva, on Tuesday to give her condolences.

“They were very emotional,” she said of Mr. Cueva’s family members.

Mr. Cueva’s mother went to Virginia Tech yesterday. Mrs. Cain said the community is raising money to replace the income Mrs. Cueva, a house cleaner, will lose while arranging her son’s funeral.

Mr. Cueva’s brother-in-law is in the military and now in Iraq, Mrs. Cain said. She and other friends of the family are attempting to bring him home for the funeral.

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