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
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
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
"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
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.