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Leslie Sherman: 1987 –2007

West Springfield graduate enjoyed history, running.

Leslie Sherman would have been honored to learn that she had been buried in Arlington National Cemetery Wednesday among some of the United States' historic figures such as John F. Kennedy, Thurgood Marshall and Pierre Charles L'Enfant.

Sherman, a history and international studies major, frequently visited historical sites like Mount Vernon and Williamsburg, Va. The 2005 West Springfield graduate was also known for dragging high school friends to monuments and museums when she came home from college on vacation.

An honors student in both high school and college, Sherman was one of 32 victims killed during the shooting spree at Virginia Tech's campus in Blacksburg last week. She had been attending French class when the shooter, Seung Hui Cho of Centreville, opened fire in Norris Hall, an academic building on campus.

This was one of the brightest and happiest times in Sherman's life said several friends during last week's candlelight vigil at West Springfield High School.

The former high school cross country runner completed the Marine Corps Marathon last fall and was encouraging friends to enter next year's New York City Marathon with her. She also planned to study abroad in Moscow for three weeks this summer and spring semester next year.

Sherman, who was contemplating joining the Peace Corps and working for U.S. Department of State after college graduation, had had to Argentina and Ecuador after saving money in high school and college.

"Leslie's life was brought to an end too soon. In many ways, she accomplished more in her 20 years than many of us do in a lifetime," said Robert Laha, who presided over her funeral at the Old Presbyterian Meeting House in Alexandria.

A regular blood donor who had also given her hair to cancer patients, Sherman was known for being conscientious and caring.

"I always thought it must be hard to run with that long brown hair and then she cut it all off and donated it to Locks of Love," said Ashley Hughes, who participated with Sherman on West Springfield High School cross country team.

IN SEVERAL WAYS, history shaped Sherman's life. She started visiting Laha's church in high school when she learned about the congregation's connection to George Washington.

After taking a field trip related to the Civil Rights movement, Sherman decided to work one of Virginia Tech's dinning halls cleaning pots and pans for money. A person she met on the trip who said he had put himself through college cleaning dishes had inspired her, Laha said.

The enthusiastic runner, who was often dressed in athletic gear during college, also had a sense of humor.

While scrolling through her cellular phone book one day, Marguerite Hughes, mother of Ashley, found Sherman had entered Thomas Jefferson into her list of contacts.

"When I asked her why she put Thomas Jefferson in my phone, she said 'Everyone should have contact with a historical figure,’" said Marguerite Hughes.

The Northern Virginia community will miss Sherman and the other victims of the Virginia Tech shootings greatly, said West Springfield High School principal David Smith last week.

"I know Leslie so tonight I speak of her. Hers was a life that has left a mark on many of us," said Smith, speaking at the Fairfax County Public Schools memorial service last week.

West Springfield High School has set up the Leslie Sherman Memorial Scholarship. Donations can be directed to Dr. David Smith at the school's address, 6100 Rolling Road, Springfield, VA 22152.

The West Springfield High School running community has organized a charity event, "Run for Leslie" to raise money for the fund. Participants will be asked to run or walk around Burke Lake in Burke Lake Park on Saturday, June 23 from 8-11 a.m.