"Desegregation has helped me so I can get along with other people," said Anne Paige in a pause between classes at South Boston High. "I would have had the South Boston tradition of not talking to anybody else."
Mixing with black students and black teachers, she says, "is helping the students see the blacks as their equals."
Anne, who is the senior class president, agrees that desegregation has put a new burden on schools but insists that "even before busing kids went through here without learning to read or write."
Surrounded by his students typesetting pages for the Madison Park Times, Andrew Fischer weighed the costs of enforced desegregation and concluded: "What they gain by being involved in the mixing here far outweighs what they lose academically."
One of his star pupils, 18-year-old college-bound senior Patricia Warnock, agreed -- even though she ended up at Madison Park for a very roundabout reason. She explained that under the court-ordered system to achieve balanced black-white ratios in each school, "they needed white females" at Madison Park, which sits in the middle of a black area.
One sign of the extent of the mixing at Burke High is Karen Cahill, a 16 -year-old white elected president of the student council by a student body that is 83 percent black, 11 percent white, and 6 percent Hispanic, Oriental, and American Indian.
Karen picked Burke "because one of my girlfriends graduated from here and I took her advice." She's pleased with her choice -- and is spreading the word that the races can work together well. She walks to and from school without trouble and reports that "I live in a white section but I don't think anything of bringing blacks home after school."
Despite initial doubts, she says that her family and friends now know that "the kids are being taught well" at Burke.