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School returning to normal

March 13, 2005|by KAREN HANNA

karenh@herald-mail.com

HAGERSTOWN - Attendance at North Hagerstown High School was "down significantly" Friday according to Principal Robert "Bo" Myers, but he said things were returning to normal after the campus was beset by rumors earlier this week.

"Things are fine," Myers said by phone Friday afternoon. According to the principal, attendance Friday was about 90 percent. The school averages 94-95 percent attendance, he said.

Myers said he met with the entire student body in three groups Friday morning and "shared with them the importance of squashing rumors at their root." Students were attentive and in good spirits, he said.

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On Thursday, more than 100 parents pulled their children from classes after rumors swirled that a student planned to bring a gun to school.

Myers said the rumors were kindled as students anticipated the return to school of a student involved in fights over the weekend and Monday.

Myers said attendance was normal on Thursday before the student exodus began in the afternoon.

Myers said Friday one student involved in those fights was suspended but has returned to school. A second student involved in the fights has been put in "alternative placement."

A third student, who was identified as the person who started the gun rumors, also has been suspended, Myers said Friday.

"The person made an off-hand comment. It had no origination other than with him," Myers said.

Hagerstown Police Department Sgt. Johnny Murray said earlier this week that a juvenile was charged with second-degree assault in connection with Monday's fight. According to Murray, the weekend fight involved two black students and the Monday incidents involved a black student and a white "Goth" student.

Murray said officers were assigned to the school Friday but there had been no new incidents.

"It's been quiet," Murray said.

High school students took home letters to their parents Thursday addressing the rumors.

According to letter, which was issued from Myers' office, "nothing that would substantiate the rumors has been revealed.

"Please be assured that North Hagerstown High School is safe and that we take our roles seriously as school administrators. Your children are my children and I take that responsibility seriously."

Myers reiterated Friday that he does not believe the incidents that occurred Monday and last weekend were related to gangs or racial tensions at North High, which is the most diverse school in the county. The school has a student population of 1,255 and a faculty of 80 plus support staff, according to a school system spokesperson.

"I mean, there's really a good integration here," Myers said, "and what I stressed to the kids today is we really need to continue it and not let anything divide us as a school community."

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