Clearview High is located in a peaceful, tranquil setting in Mullica Hill, Gloucester County. Deer roam through the nearby woods off Breakneck Road, giving the area an air of serenity.

It's a sharp contrast to the chaotic horror that unfolded in the shooting rampage Monday at Virginia Tech. The shootings had a far-ranging effect - and no area school was affected more than Clearview.

Sean McQuade, a 2003 Clearview graduate who was a solid performer on the school's basketball and baseball teams, was one of the people shot in the massacre.

Thankfully, he survived. His condition yesterday was upgraded from critical to serious.

"He's one of those kids who has always had a kind soul and has always been there for his mom," said a Wenonah resident who has been close friends with Sean's mom, Jodie, since their school days. The woman asked not to be identified. "He's been a rock for his mom."

She smiled.

"From the time he was 2, he was always awesome in sports; he could do anything he wanted, and you could just see he was going places someday," she said.

At Clearview, McQuade's coaches described him as unselfish and the ultimate team player. He was captain of both the baseball and basketball teams.

At Virginia Tech, McQuade, now 22, became an engineering/math major who was caught in the middle of the worst mass shooting in American history.

The shooting has started a nationwide debate on gun control - ban them, it says here, for anyone who is not in the police or military - and has some high school seniors edgy about attending Virginia Tech.

But not Kelly Lynch.

Lynch, 18, is one of South Jersey's best female athletes. Coincidentally, she attends Clearview - McQuade's alma mater - and has committed to Virginia Tech on a soccer scholarship.

Last night, the senior signed an acceptance letter to attend Virginia Tech.

"I didn't think twice about it," she said.

A standout forward who carries a 4.0 grade-point average, Lynch was recruited to play midfield at Virginia Tech. She already feels a part of the Hokies.

"Just seeing the amount of people come together [after the tragedy] makes me even more proud than before to go there," she said. "All the colleges - and all the people across the nation - are becoming Hokies, and I'll be a true Hokie. I can't wait for that."

Tomorrow has been declared Hokie Hope Day, and people across the nation have been asked to wear the school's orange and maroon colors to show their compassion for the situation.

Clearview is planning to do the same thing. "We're doing it for Sean's family . . . and for the tragedies," Lynch said.

Lynch's sister and McQuade's sister are in the same fifth-grade class. Lynch has never met Sean, "but I feel close to anyone from Virginia Tech, especially him," she said. "We have an immediate connection."

Jack Lynch, Kelly's dad, has no fear sending his daughter to Virginia Tech. "She made the commitment about a year ago, and one of the reasons we chose Virginia Tech is because of the family atmosphere of the soccer team and how wonderful the academic people were. Everyone on the campus was wonderful," he said. "And at a time like this, everyone pulls together when there's a tragedy, and you can see that on TV. The people have pulled together and it makes me proud that my daughter will go there.

"They'll be dealing with this tragedy for the next few years - and forever. . . . It's part of growing up and learning from it and supporting others."

Kelly Lynch, soccer star, will be in the middle of the healing process, and maybe she'll bring part of Mullica Hill's serenity to a campus that sure could use some.

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