Events nearly halfway around the world echoed in the halls and classrooms of Woodbridge High School last week as classmates of senior Chrissy Higgins reacted to the abduction of her father by an Arab guerrilla group in Lebanon.

Marine Lt. Col. William Richard Higgins, 43, of Woodbridge, who headed the 75-man Lebanon Group of the United Nations Supervision Organization at the time of his kidnaping, was seized by gunmen south of the Lebanese port city of Tyre on Wednesday.

Chrissy Higgins, 17, has not been in school since Wednesday, but in her absence many of the students, themselves military dependents whose parents frequently travel to world trouble spots, expressed sympathy for her and some said they are now more apprehensive about the safety of their own parents.

"My dad travels a lot and I'm concerned about him," said Judi Patterson, daughter of an Air Force colonel.

"It {the abduction} was really a shock. It's scary. I'm sorry it's happened to Chrissy's father."

"Chrissy and I are good friends," said senior Jenny Botta, whose father is a lieutenant colonel in the Air Force. "I was with her that day."

Botta said she no longer worries about her own father's safety because he works in Washington, "but I have worried about my dad. I can empathize with Chrissy. She's scared for her father. She doesn't know where he is or if he's being harmed."

Woodbridge High School, located in Lake Ridge, has a high concentration of military dependents, because of the area's proximity to several military installations, according to Assistant Principal Pam White. "Most of the kids are reacting to this on a personal, emotional level," she said.

"When events in the Middle East hit this close to home, it really makes an impact," said government teacher Jim Bish, whose classroom has been the scene of some spirited discussions about Higgins' plight. "It makes military kids take a longer look at what their fathers are doing . . . I don't think they know who they should blame {for the abduction}. They're just upset about anything that hurts Chrissy."

Student government President Martin Nohe said he hopes that student concern can take tangible shape in a petition for Higgins' release. Students said they hope to publish the petition in a Lebanese newspaper.

"We're working on it," said Nohe, whose father is an Army officer. "We just don't know how appropriate it is. We don't even know if it is possible . . . . We recognize there is very little we can do."

Woodbridge student Steven Clancy, whose father is a clergyman working in the Lutheran Missouri Synod organization, said he hopes his father can help get a petition published in a Lebanese religious newspaper.

While some military dependents at Woodbridge said they are now more concerned about the dangers their military parents face, others said they accept risk as part of the territory.

"Sure, I'm concerned about my dad," said Tom Bishop of his Air Force father. "But that's his job. I think they'll let Higgins go."

"Seventy-five percent of my friends are military," Nohe said. "We're just as scared as everyone. But in some ways, we can handle it better. We understand how something like this can happen."

Bish and Tom Lloyd, who also teaches government at the high school, estimated that about 20 percent of their students have lived abroad, usually as military dependents. Although "the kids are not well schooled in the historical perspective of the Middle East," according to Lloyd, their experiences living in other countries have often brought a kind of sophistication to the past few days' class discussions of the Higgins episode.

"Obviously something like this is a springboard for any social studies teacher to say, 'Here's how close we are to a situation,' " Lloyd said. "Among the kids, there's a tendency to be cautious. Let's find out what is really going on here."

Lloyd said many of his students are not only "confused but also a little suspicious of our purposes in the Middle East."

At the same time, he said he is concerned that some students may stereotype all Arabs in reaction to Higgins' abduction.

"This kind of thing brings out prejudice, and that concerns me as a teacher," he said.