Northeast grads undaunted by controversy Students experience 'all the normal feelings'

June 06, 1993|By Amy P. Ingram | Amy P. Ingram,Contributing Writer

An article in Sunday's Anne Arundel edition stated incorrectly the college plans of George Buch, the salutatorian of the Northeast High School class of 1993. He plans to attend the U.S. Air Force Academy.

The Sun regrets the error.

Northeast High School's graduating seniors tried to put "all the unhappy stuff" behind them yesterday as they marched into the school auditorium in yellow and black robes to receive their diplomas.

Despite the memories of two teachers who have been accused of sexually abusing students, and of a classmate killed in an automobile accident, the smiles, the tears and the excitement were all there for the 208 members of the Class of 1993.

FOR THE RECORD - CORRECTION

"The students are experiencing all the normal feelings," said Shelli Slutskin, co-senior class adviser 15 minutes before graduation began. "The events of the practice and prom have overshadowed all the bad events. They want to put the unhappy stuff behind them."

Mindi Pitt, class president, agreed. "We're just moving on and forgetting," she said.

"Right now I'm just very happy about graduating."

But her speech to the crowd of 400, and those of others contained at least veiled references to the uproar of their last year in high school.

"We've had some unusual problems to deal with," she said after recalling freshman year, driver's education and academic successes. "But all families have good times and bad."

Valedictorian Shannon Davis was the first to mention the difficulties of the year.

"The path to success is not straight," she said, "It twists and turns. We have achieved success in scholarship, but sometimes we came face to face with harsh realities. We learned to pull together and confront our hardships."

Michelle Dyke, 17, was killed in November when the car she was riding in smashed into a tree.

On April 8, Ronald Walter Price, a 49-year-old social studies teacher and a softball and drama coach, was arrested and charged with having a sexual relationship with a 16-year-old student. He was later charged with two other counts of child sex abuse after two graduates came forward. Mr. Price, who has admitted on national television to having sex with as many as seven students over the past 20 years, resigned his post May 28.

Laurie Susanne Cook, 33, was charged May 15 with a fourth-degree sex offense. A student alleges Ms. Cook allowed him to kiss and fondle her. She has vehemently denied the charges.

While others hinted at the past, salutatorian George Buch, who plans to attend the Naval Academy, talked about the future. To a hushed crowd, he spoke of opportunities in the "real world" and concluded that "graduation is the end of the beginning of the rest of our lives."

Before the ceremony, the 18-year-old spoke of the unity of this graduating class, especially after the events of the year.

"In life you have to pull together to confront the hardships," he said.

"And we did just that this year to battle the bad publicity."

As at every graduation, family members cheered and yelled when their son or daughter's name was announced. Students graduating with honors were recognized.

After the tassels were switched and the speeches were made, the Class of 1993 filed once again from the auditorium.

0 But Jason Poe, who said, "I'm just glad I graduated," would not forget the words of Northeast Principal Joseph Carducci.

"This year we have felt the sorrow of events that have been broadcast on national television," he said. "But we must look forward if we are to heal. We will look forward, but not with rose-colored glasses."

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