BLACKSBURG, Va. -- Students returned to class Monday at Virginia Tech, the first year the school hasn't suspended instruction to mark the anniversary of a 2007 rampage that left 32 people and the gunman dead.
The massacre was the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history.
Provost Mark McNamee, who chaired a committee that planned memorial events in the years after the shooting, said the return to classes reflects the lives of those slain.
"Their passion for education, their desire to do good in the world, their commitment to their disciplines come through so strongly that we felt being in classes was one special way of remembering them onward,'' McNamee said. "This is what they did, this is what we do, and it's important to us.
"My sense is that our students and our faculty are ready for it,'' he said.
The day was remembered in other ways on the Blacksburg campus, in Washington, and by alumni across the country.
Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell was scheduled to address a campus-wide candlelight vigil on the Drillfield, the heart of the campus. McDonnell has issued a proclamation recognizing April 16 as Virginia Tech Remembrance Day.
The proclamation honors the 32 lives that were "hastily taken, leaving absences that will never be filled and a profound sense of sorrow in the lives of those impacted,'' the proclamation reads in part.
At 9:43 a.m. Monday -- the time when gunman Seung-Hui Cho began killing 30 students and professors at Norris Hall -- McDonnell called for a moment of silence in Virginia. The Capitol Square Bell Tower in Richmond then was tolled for each victim.
On campus, events included a community picnic on the Drillfield, a display of memorial items sent to Virginia Tech from other colleges and universities and performances. Several locations were set aside on campus as "quiet places for reflection.''
"It's something we'll always remember, but we've definitely moved past it and this is a beautiful campus and no matter what I feel safe here,'' Virginia Tech freshman Alexis Craghead told WDBJ-TV during the picnic.
At Norris Hall, where Cho also killed himself, an open house was held. The former classroom building is now home to the Center for Peace Studies and Violence Prevention.
The center was established after the killings at Norris Hall in 2009 "to transform a place of pain, suffering and violence that can prevent future violence,'' director James Hawdon said. The center promotes student volunteerism and "nonviolent compassionate communication'' techniques, he said.