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Classroom reflections

January 05, 2009|By CLAUD KITCHENS

Desegregation of schools in the Deep South brought with it a multitude of problems. One of them was fights among high school students. Often they were serious in nature. Consequently, many efforts were made to stop them before they started.

A parallel problem was rumors. They seemed to spread like wildfire.

One spring afternoon, I received a report that a "rumble" was to take place the next morning in one of our rural high schools. The rumor included sheriff's deputies coming in with dogs to quell the fight. The thought of dogs was frightening in our rural areas.

I called the county sheriff and shared with him the report I had received. After thinking about it, he said I was not to worry, he would take care of it.

The next morning, students were milling about the school's courtyard. Then they began to separate by race, each group separating to the opposite sides of the courtyard.

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With lights flashing, the sheriff drove on to the school grounds. He stopped his car, got out and with his dog on a leash and walked between the two groups.

All of a sudden the tension was lifted and students broke out in laughter. The sheriff's dog was a chihuahua. How great it is to have people smarter than you helping in time of need.

Claud Kitchens, who passed away recently, was an educator for more than 35 years, retiring in 1990 as the deputy state superintendent of the Maryland State Department of Education. Prior to that, he was the superintendent of Washington County Public Schools. The Herald-Mail will continue running this column as long as we have previously unpublished material available.

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