Newspaper: The Evening Sentinel
Date: April 5, 1979
Title: Students Ask: What About Future?
Author: United Press International
HARRISBURG, Pa. (UPI)-Julius Martinz is a happy 16-year-old who lives an active life and figures, why worry about radiation?
“It affects you, it affects you in 30 years,” the Harrisburg High School junior said, “and the way I’m going I’ll be dead in 30 years.”
Last Friday, when the accident at the Three Mile Island nuclear plant threatened catastrophe, schools in six districts and part of a seventh closed.
Wednesday, when the situation at the plant appeared stabilized and fear about a nuclear disaster eased, classes resumed for the 34,000 public and private school students affected who lived outside a five-mile radius of the plant. Schools remained closed within five miles of the facility.
JODY GARLINGTON returned to classes at Harrisburg High, but she was still scared.
“My whole family went to Germantown, near Philadelphia,” the 15-year-old sophomore said. “The bubble (a hydrogen bubble in the crippled reactor that stymied engineers trying to shut down the unit) can start getting big all over again.”
She also worried about the long-term effects of radiation emitted from the crippled Three Mile Island power plant 10 miles away.
“Yeah, I’m scared,” she said. “You can get sterile, maybe not have any kids.”
Alan Rammaker, 23, a science teacher at the school, saw significance in the way the students had received the news last Friday that the school was closing early and for an indefinite period.
“WHEN THE PRINCIPAL came over the loudspeaker system, everybody just stopped dead in their tracks and didn’t move until he was through. It was the most attentive I’ve ever seen them.”
He said one girl “really lost it” after the announcement. “She just looked out the window. She wouldn’t say anything.”
A mathematics teacher, Janice Sims, 34, said that while she thought most teachers had left town over the scare, she didn’t think students recognized the dangers involved.
“I really don’t think they are aware of the dangers. I asked my second period class how many had left-or wanted to leave-and not one raised their hand.”
But that was not the case at nearby Bishop McDevitt, a coed Catholic high school nearby. Virtually every student interviewed expressed concern.
ONE STUDENT said his family had left the area and slept in sleeping bags on the floor of a Penn State University dorm room normally occupied by “a friend’s sister”.
And on the first day back after the closing, twice as many students were absent as on a regular day.
“Everybody’s pretty concerned about it,” said Chris Natale, 18. “People were joking about it last week when it first started and nobody really realized how dangerous it was. Now they understand more.”
Thirty-four thousand students in six districts and part of a seventh were affected by Friday’s school closing.