Kennedy Plaque Replaced

On June 15, 1959, an ambitious young Democratic senator named John F. Kennedy gave the commencement address in the sweltering boys' gym at Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School. A plaque to note his appearance was placed in a hallway, but it was apparently misplaced during renovations completed in 2002.

The class that the future president spoke to included several people who went on to achieve great success. Among the graduates were a future U.S. senator, a future governor, a future newspaper publisher, a future editor of the Los Angeles Times, and five future judges, two of whom are on the federal bench.

On Monday night, the two federal judges, U.S. District Judge Peter J. Messitte and U.S. District Judge Roger W. Titus, appeared before the Montgomery County school board to present a new plaque to the high school. Mark Shriver, a nephew of Kennedy's, spoke about his uncle's legacy, and Principal Sean Bulson accepted the plaque on behalf of the school.

The plaque was paid for by members of the class of 1959. It features a quote from Kennedy's speech, with a picture of Kennedy on one side and the cover page of his speech on the other. A medallion is at the top center of the plaque, which is 19 by 32 inches.

Messitte, 64, said his son, Zach, obtained a copy of the commencement speech from the Kennedy Library in Boston in 1990. Zach Messitte went to the library to do research for a thesis on the Kennedy-Richard Nixon television debates and asked for a copy of the speech, his father said. The copy includes some of Kennedy's handwritten revisions.

The original speech began, "I appreciate very much the opportunity to participate in this commencement exercise and to share briefly with you one of the memorable moments of your lives." Kennedy changed the latter part of the passage to "and to share briefly this memorable moment in the springtime of your lives."

"I remember it was hot, and he was an inspirational speaker," said Titus, 63.

Workshops for Parents

The public school system's Division of Family and Community Partnerships is holding a series of workshops called "Making Connections: One Family at a Time." They are aimed at strengthening relationships between schools and parents.

The first workshop will focus on how to communicate effectively at parent-teacher conferences and how to support math instruction at home. It will be from 7 to 9 p.m. today at four locations: Silver Spring International Middle School, 313 Wayne Ave., Silver Spring; A. Mario Loiederman Middle School, 12701 Goodhill Rd., Silver Spring; Gaithersburg High School, 314 S. Frederick Ave., Gaithersburg; and John F. Kennedy High School, 1901 Randolph Rd., Silver Spring. All workshops will be presented in Spanish and English. For more information, call 301-279-3100.

A Mock Fatal Car Crash

Winston Churchill High School students, parents and teachers will stage a mock fatal car accident at 10:45 a.m. next Thursday to bring attention to the dangers of drunken driving.

Police officers and emergency medical personnel will treat the "injured" and handle the "fatalities." County leaders and volunteers will also be present. The program will coincide with homecoming festivities.

The Potomac school will hold an assembly on drunken driving at 7:45 a.m. the following day in its auditorium.

-- ARUNA JAIN

and RUBEN CASTANEDA

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