I DON'T DOUBT ALL THAT DAVID FINKEL reported in his article {"Coming of Age in Room 223," November 25}, but I feel he leads us to a misperception of what it is like to be 16 today. He doesn't pay attention, any more than the students in Room 223 do, to the depth and richness of human emotion and experience of the people he's studying.

As a mother of a 16-year-old at Richard Montgomery High School, I give kids today a lot more credit than Finkel does. Amid the struggle against peer pressure to have early sex, do drugs and appear to be apathetic, there is also a real fight to stand with pride in school and in the community. I know there is a desire to learn, a striving for excellence and a commitment to help others. Even when I feel like complaining that teenagers today seem self-centered and grabbing for immediate gratification, I realize there is another side. Finkel should have written also about the compassion these kids have for each other and about how much they care about their school's image.

Maybe Finkel didn't ask questions that were probing enough, or maybe he needed to talk to students who were more articulate, but for many Richard Montgomery students, there is more to life than Rockville Pike. DIANE FUCHS Rockville

I WAS DISAPPOINTED IN THE WAY THE article on Richard Montgomery High School portrayed myself and others, as well as my school. I felt that the article got too detailed in the personal lives of myself and others rather than the idea of being 16 itself. Though well-written by the author, the article played on stereotypes of the students. It is unfortunate that an article that had the potential to be a positive example of the "regular" student at Richard Montgomery became an expose' of our personal lives and thoughts. Giving the reader a bird's-eye view of the way we dress and think is one thing. Looking in on and playing up our love lives or past indiscretions is another.

One of the best things about being 16 is feeling everything is possible, and some things are sacred; one of the worst things about being 16 is discovering that isn't always true. LAUREN FUNKHAUSER Rockville

WE WERE DISAPPOINTED AND OUT- raged upon reading "Coming of Age in Room 223." Not only did this article reinforce the negative reputation that has plagued Richard Montgomery for the last 30 years, but it also misrepresented and stereotyped teenagers as a whole.

As students at RM, we were angered by David Finkel's attempt to characterize Richard Montgomery students by interviewing one English class. The intolerance and superficiality depicted are certainly not traits shared by all of us. As teenagers we perceived this article as blaming our generation for problems ranging from drugs to ignorance. In reality, we are victims of the pop culture, a phenomenon created by adults. The stigma of being the "Age of Sex, Drugs and Rock-and-Roll" has been saddled upon us as a blanket generalization. JUDITH FEINBERG Brookeville SHOBANA SHANKAR Silver Spring

YOUR ARTICLE "COMING OF AGE IN Room 223" touched me deeply. I am a 16-year-old student at Sherwood High School in Silver Spring. This article especially affected me because I attended Richard Montgomery for a year. Before I read your article, I had been letting the best years of my life slip by me. But reading the article gave me time to sit back and reflect on what I was letting go. I could find a little bit of myself in every paragraph. MELANIE ANDERSON Olney

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