Reema Samaha

Reema Samaha

Hometown: Chantilly, Va.

Age: 18

Class: Freshman

Major: Undeclared

Location: Norris Hall

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Profile: Even before Reema Samaha could study theater at Westfield High School and later Virginia Tech, she gravitated toward the stage. Only it was the basement of her Centreville home, on a makeshift set she and other neighborhood children pieced together.

Somewhere on an old VHS tape, those moments are captured: a not-yet-teenage Samaha, dressed up and doing what she loved, said Danielle Ragole, a childhood friend who grew up in the same neighborhood as Samaha.

"There's just a presence about her that nobody is going to forget," said Ragole, 23.

Ragole was one of several people watching over the family's home yesterday as they remained in Blacksburg.

Samaha, who would have turned 19 in June, graduated from Westfield High School. Erin Peterson, who was also shot in the attacks, graduated the same year. Three years before them, the shooter, Cho Seung Hui, graduated from there.

In the school's main office yesterday, the phones rang constantly. Calls from the media came from across the nation and as far as London and South Korea. Near the front desk, a television remained tuned to news about the shooting. A teenage girl sat in a love seat in front of it, clutching a tissue and crying softly.

At the school, Samaha's friends remembered her the best way they knew how: by watching videotapes of past productions of the high school theater group.

"She did a belly-dancing act in last year's talent show," said Corey Vierregger, 16, an 11th-grader who shimmied to portray Samaha's verve as he remembered his friend.

Samaha distinguished herself in drama at the school as well as on the school's dance team. Among her distinctions her senior year was a $5,000 theater scholarship.

"Whoever she came across, she always had the most genuine smile," said Daniel Jeong, 19, a sophomore at the University of Illinois who knew Samaha at Westfield.

Contrary to rumors that Samaha and Cho were dating, family friends said the two did not know each other. It was purely a coincidence that they went to the same school and that they lived blocks from each other in Centreville, they said.

"It was just a random act," family friend Meredith Sanders said as she left the family's home yesterday.

"She doesn't deserve this," Sanders said. "None of them deserve this."

-- Theresa Vargas and Amy Gardner, The Washington Post

© 2007 The Washington Post Company