Students who pursue academic excellence are sometimes yielding to peer pressure and allowing their grades to suffer.

How influential are the opinions of classmates in shaping students' attitudes toward school? What can be done to encourage academic achievement despite peer pressure?

It's a desease, growing more rapidly than the speed of AIDS and maybe more serious: growthphobia. This rapidly speading disease combats creativity, individualism and the drive to be the very best.

In countries such as Russia and Japan those students delinquent in their studies are the outcasts or the "nerds."

We must instill in ourselves a burning desire to be the very best academically, the very best morally, and the very best in the world. PHAYLEN ABDULLAH Dunbar

To encourage students to excell and not endanger their future, schools should provide school-wide and city-wide recognition of student accomplishments. When honor is heaped on students for academic achievement, then more and more students will want to be achievers. MARKUS ROBINSON Coolidge

The academically inclined students should work even harder when their peers tell them that they're "uncool" because wherever you go or whatever you do, people will always have negative comments.

What is really "uncool" is not taking advantage of something that will eventually be rewarding to you. DANIELLE MADDEN H.D. Woodson

The opinion of classmates in shaping student's attitudes can be very influential on some students. Because of the stereotypical name "nerd," some students try to avoid the responsibility of showing their peers that they are intelligent.

If a person gives in to peer pressure, it can damage his dreams, goals, ambitions and desire. CLARENCE MITCHELL Spingarn

I think that if a student is a strong independent person, what others say would not effect them. If a student is weak and dependent, what others say could be influential. Nothing can really be done about peer pressure. It is up to the student to do what he or she feels is right. NICOLE CLAY Wilson EDITOR'S NOTE

"Students Speak Out" has been a regular feature of the High School Honors pages. Topics were posted in area schools and responses were submitted to school officials.