Chuck Lane sits in a room adjacent to the Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School physics lab, and thinks carefully before answering a reporter's question.

"No," he says finally. "There was never really any question about my going to (private school.) . . . I really wanted to come here because all my friends were coming."

Lane's career at B-CC reads like an all-American high school fairy tale. Star third baseman on the school baseball team. National Merit Scholar. School newspaper editor Presidential scholar finalist. 1510 SAT College Board scores. Harvard.

And captain of the school's three-member brain trust that whipped arch-rival Walt Whitman High School and D.C.'s Woodrow Wilson High School this year in the championship finals of 'It's Academic,' the local television quiz show.

Fittingly, Lane answered the last question of the show that proved to be the winner for B-CC.

The questioner asked, "Which is the first vowel to fall between . . ."

Before he could finish, Lane pressed the buzzer for his team, hoping the host would end the question with "two consonants?"

He guessed "E" correctly.*tLane, in short, is the epitome of opportunism B-CC style - a student who has pursued the diverse array of activities and courses at a school which has more programs for gifted and talented students than any other school in Montgomery County except Walt Whitman.

The programs at B-CC include advanced placement courses for exceptional students bound for college; a tutoring program in which students journey to D.C's slums to help youths in math and English; a student-produced television program which offers students the opportunity to interview newsmakers like Sen. George McGovern; and opportunities for students to work for architectural firms, environmental lobbyists and even horse ranchers while receiving academic credit.

"No one can fault us here for not trying to have a little something for everyone," says B-CC principal Thornton F. Lauriat.

"My philosophy of education changed while I was here," Chuck Lane says. "In ninth grade I was a grade-grubbing type. I compromised myself . . . I'd look over at other peoples' papers.

"Since then, I decided to go after education for its own sake," he says.

This meant, among other things, borrowing books from teachers' private collections and spending hours after school with them discussing Huxley and Hemingway and Camus.

"The dedication they show here is really tremendous," Lane says. "Especially considering all they are up against these days. You see surveys that say one in nine students smokes done every day . . . If you were a teacher, how would you feel?

Lane agrees with principal Lauriat's contention that B-CC's strength today lies in a diversity that mixes children of wealthy parents in Chevy Chase with students on public assistance from Silver Spring, and merit scholars with slow learners.

"You have ample choice in coming to know what kinds of people you like," he says. "You learn to not make fun of somebody just because he's different or less intelligent.

"I respect people who cherish their individuality," Lane adds. "And there are a lot of people like that here." CAPTION: Picture, Chuck Lane is a national merit scholar and member of the B-CC baseball team. By James A. Parcell - The Washington Post