Seeking normalcy, schools play again

High schools: People involved had mixed views on whether it was appropriate, but only Anne Arundel County teams didn't play yesterday.

High Schools

September 13, 2001|By Katherine Dunn and Rick Belz | Katherine Dunn and Rick Belz,SUN STAFF

At City College yesterday, freshman Joy Wright hoped that playing a soccer game would help take her mind off the startling images of terrorism for the first time in 31 hours.

"It's good that we're having this game, because we all get to take our minds off of it," said Wright before yesterday's home game against Poly. "It's kind of relaxing, because you don't want to be so tense, so shocked and stuff. But when the game's over, I'll probably still be thinking about it."

While professional teams and most college teams did not play games yesterday, almost all area high school teams resumed regular-season scheduled.

"They said on the news if we paralyze everything, it's going to make [the terrorists] feel like ... they accomplished something," said City freshman Zuleima Gutierrez. "And then the whole United States is down, and we can't do anything because of what happened. If we show them that we play and keep everything moving like a regular day, then I guess they didn't win."

Anne Arundel County was the lone metro area school system to close its doors yesterday, a day after the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon. Athletic schedules will get back to normal at Anne Arundel schools today.

At Atholton High School yesterday, Centennial's eighth-ranked boys soccer team opened its Howard County season with a 2-0 victory at Atholton. Some players from both teams felt schools should have been closed and the games postponed.

"We should have been off today after one of the biggest tragedies in United States history," said Eagles sweeper Matt Hashimoto. "I don't think students or teachers were in a learning atmosphere. But we have to respect the county's decision and had to just get out here and focus the best we could."

Atholton goalkeeper Khalil Rizvi said that "out of respect, we should have closed schools and postponed the game. It's been a shock. It seemed like a movie. I still don't believe it happened."

Public school systems went about business as close to normal as possible yesterday.

"Some staff felt we should have had a day of national mourning, but I told the kids that no one should interfere with their education," said Atholton principal Connie Lewis.

The only concessions to Tuesday's events at the Centennial-Atholton game were a moment of silence before the game and the flying of the U.S. flag at half-mast.

Ron Belinko, coordinator of athletics for the Baltimore County public schools, said, "It's a different situation with pro teams and college teams. They depend on air travel to get there, and they draw large crowds.

"On the high school level, we're trying to get our youngsters back to some sort of normalcy if that's possible - to get them back to practice or playing."

Belinko said there had been no complaints - from parents or anyone else - to his office about playing yesterday. However, he said, he expected that some people might not consider playing high school games so soon appropriate.

"This is an emotional issue," said Belinko. "The bottom line is, some folks think it's not showing compassion and others want to get back to normalcy. You can go back to President's Bush's statement [Tuesday night]. He said we want to give the appearance that this didn't upset the operation of the government, and that's what we're trying to do as a school system."

At the City vs. Poly girls soccer game, won 4-1 by City, some parents expressed mixed feelings about the game being played, but none was overwhelmingly against it.

"I thought it could go either way," said Mary Jo Kirschman, whose daughter Jill Luxemberg plays for City. "I don't think there's any precedent for this. Everybody's trying to make the best decision possible.

"It would be very difficult if somebody on the team had someone that they lost, but children more than anyone need a reason to go on and to feel like their lives are secure, that they have a future, and that we're not giving up."

Kimberly James, mother of Knights goalie Whitney James, agreed.

"Life has to go on," said James. "I wonder about the mindset of the girls today. We kind of have to take things in stride. This is what she truly enjoys. She looks forward to it and this will help."

At Bryn Mawr School, athletic director Terry Detorie echoed Belinko's sentiments as middle and high school field hockey and soccer teams prepared to play their games.

"For the ages of the kids we're dealing with, we wanted to keep things as normal as possible," said Detorie. "For adults and even young adults in college, it's a difference scenario."

As for making up games postponed Tuesday and yesterday, most will be rescheduled on a school-by-school basis.

Marlene Kelly, Anne Arundel county supervisor of athletics, said events scheduled this week at Meade High School, located on the Fort Meade military base, either have been moved or will be rescheduled.

Because of security measures at Fort Meade, students are not allowed on campus until Monday. Meade's home football game scheduled tomorrow night against Chesapeake has been postponed.

Kelly also said that Meade "cannot host any night contests until Sept. 24."

Sun staff writer Pat O'Malley contributed to this article.

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