When Assistant U.S. Treasury Secretary Donald Lubick and his wife Susan arrived in Washington two years ago, they immediately began hunting for schools for their three children.
Friends referred them to a number of private schools in the area and to Walt Whitman High School in Bethesda, the perennial metropolitan area leader in college board scores and National Merit scholars.
But the Lubicks had something else in mind. "We'd just come from Buffalo where we were deeply active in school desegregation," Susan Lubick says. "We were looking for a school that was both intellectually stimulating and urban, in terms of racial and economic diversity."
After visiting a half-dozen schools, the Lubicks purchased a home in Rollingwood on the District of Columbia border - near Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School.
"It was exactly what we had in mind," Lubick says. "The school reflects the real world. The academic and social choices my kids have there are infinite."
Choices and diversity, in fact, are exactly what administrators and supporters say B-CC is all about. They take pride in the school's liberal learning environment, which finds students relaxing in hallways or beneath shade trees outside reading Moliere, Shakespeare and Kent.
But the "real world" situation that exists at B-CC today - which has seen the once nearly all-white, all-college-bound student body become a melting pot of races, goals, interests and abilities - carriers with it a variety of problems that make some parents uneasy.
One of the major concerns of many parents is clearly race.
In the past decade, black enrollment at B-CC has climbed to about 12 percent of the student population. Inevitably, this changing environment has not been entirely incident-free.
"There's really not that much tension to speak of," says Diana Bailey of Kensington, a black 11th-grade student. "It's not the kind of kinky racism where I'll walk down the hall and be afraid of being lynched."
Bailey is one of five black students who skipped a class recently to discuss race relations at B-CC. She sits at library table with Ernie Jarvis, son of the recently elected D.C. City Council member Charlene Drew Jarvis; James Cheek, son of Howard University President James Cheek Jr.; Rickie Holley, and Robin Burgess.
"You just get innuendoes from the to time," says Burgess. "Like a white girl going down the hall once said this corner where some blacks hang out looks like 'Soul Train.'"
"It's weird that they'd say something like that, because there are lots of places where whites hang out that people don't call white hangouts," says Cheek.
Earlier this year, a racial controversy flared at B-CC when several black students, led by Burgess, protested that blacks were not equally represented in various school activities.
Burgess raised the issue during a student assembly. She says the junior calss president countered by saying blacks don't try to be represented.
Later, at the end of the assembly, a Bugs Bunny cartoon was shown, featuring a Black Sambo-like character. "It was really offensive," Burgess says. "Out of that whole thing grew the human relations committee."
The committee, composed of black and white student leaders, was organized to establish better relations between blacks and whites. It decided to sponsor an interracial disco party at B-CC.
Only 20 people showed up, subsequently, the committee disbanded.
"The things is, whites aren't really interested in anything black," says Holley.
Bailey, who earlier this year helped form B-CC's first girls' drill team says that on the "first day of tryouts, we had about 10 blacks and three white girls. "They [The white girls] left and never came back after the first practice," she says. "They felt intimidated, like we were going to eat them or something. So we had an all-black drill team representing B-CC.
"It was sort of the same thing with the cheerleaders except in reverse. Most of the cheerleaders are white but we had four blacks on the team who wanted to do some really cool routines. The white girls said it was too hard and would break up the patterns they already had. So two of the blacks quiit.
"I really didn't understand it until I went to a basketball game between B-CC and Wilson (a D.C. high school) during Christmas," she says. "The Wilson cheerleaders were all black and could dance. I mean dance . These white girls sitting in front of me thought they were dirty. They said they swiveled their hips too much."
The black students also say they feel they have to prove more to teachers than white students.
"If you mess up in class, people look at you like you're crazy," said Burgess. "There's a feeling like most of the blacks here are superkids or something. I got a D on a math test once and a white kid was really shocked. He looked at me as if to say, what happened? Like I don't have a right to flunk like everyone else."
Jarvis says he will probably attend a D.C. school next year, in the aftermath of his mother's election to public office in the District.
"I was telling my teacher the other day how I might not be back at B-CC next year," says Jarvis, "and this white boy asked me, 'Where you going, Ernie? Back to the Congo?' I nearly smacked him."
Despite what Burgess termed "latent bigotry" at the school, the five students agreed, however, that their education at B-CC was worthwile.
"Academically, it's challenging because the work's hard and you better produce," says Cheek. "Socially it's challenging, too. You get to know whites pretty well."
White students describe B-CC race relations as tense, nonexistent or rewarding, depending on whom you ask.
"Most of the blacks just stick to themselves and don't bother anyone," says senior Peter Peterson. "When I was in junior high everybody hung out with each other. Then high school came and cliques started forming faster. The blacks decided they didn't want to associate with us anymore."
Recalling the protest earlier in the year led by several blacks concerned about black representation in school activities, Glen Fick says, "It's their own fault they don't get involved.
"They said there weren't enough pictures of blacks in the yearbook and not enough responsibility in school government. Then they said they didn't know where or when the meetings were. Well," he says, "they're never in first period when all this stuff is announced. How they gonna know about it?"
Jeff Francis suggests that some of the lawlessness at B-CC also exacerbates what he euphemistically calls "general tension."
"This black kid came into Jerry's ( earby sandwich shop one day and demanded a coate off the back of this junior high kid," says Francis. "He said he didn't have a coat and wanted his. It was weird, but the kid just gave it to him.
"Some blacks - and I think there are very few of these - think they can get away with anything at B-CC," he says. "Like they've got a right to anything they want and nobody's gonna stop them. Some white kids are afraid to stand up because either they'll get hit or accused of being bigots."
A B-CC marijuana dealer agrees. "I don't know blacks very well, but some of my friends were beat up by blacks in the bathroom," he says. "I don't sell to them [blacks] and I don't let them know I have drugs."
Laura Schisgall says there aren't very many fights at B-CC. Nor are many racial slurs heard in the halls. But she feels there are racial problems "sort of beneath the surface."
Mainly it has to do with communication," she says. "Most of the blacks come from Silver Spring. They know each other. Whites don't come from that area. Whether whites are excluding blacks or vice-versa, I don't know."
Assistant principal Pearl Flowers, who attended an all-black high school in Norfolk, feels the situation at B-CC would be improved if there were more black teachers. There are only two black B-CC faculty members besides Flowers.
t's unfortunate but I [think] some of our black students feel the school doesn't offer them enough, that it's too white for them.
Racial tension, is not the only part of B-CC that concerns parents. They also worry about the whole environment, which is more liberal at B-CC, many feel than at other suburban high schools.
A recent girl's softball game between B-CC and Albert Einstein, another Montgomer County high school, is a case in point.
As coach Brady Blade gathered his team around him for a pep talk as the game moved into extra innings, the girls stood chewing bubble gum and spitting.
"There's something about girls at B-CC," he says. "They're more worldly or sophisticated or whatever you want to call it. Much more than girls at other schools.
"I mean, they wouldn't think twice before doing things spontaneously," he goes on. "If a couple of them wanted to go downtown, say, right in the middle of first period, hell, they'd do it and not think twice.
"You go to other schools and girls would be scared to death to do something like that," he says,.
As the next inning of the ball game began the B-CC players lounged on the sidelines in an old assortment or jerseys, sweatpants, shorts and jeans, and screamed encouragement as the team mounted a remarkable rally. The bases were loaded with two down, when a B-CC player smacked a hard grounder to short, sending the B-CC runner on third streaking to the plate.
The play at home was close, and the umpire signaled the B-CC girl out, ending the comeback.
Several B-CC girls charged onto the field.
"What are you, f---g blind or what?" one girl hollered at the umpire. The umpire appeared almost as stunned as the Einstein parents and grandparents sitting behind home plate.
One consequence of parental concerns over the changing enviroment at B-CC has been a steady drop in enrollment over the last decade. B-CC enrollment over the last decade. B-CC enrollment has fallen by 500 students since 1970, while private school enrollment has modesty grown from 13.3 to more than 15 percent of the students who live in the surrounding Bethesda, Chevy Chase and Potomac areas.
Chevy Chase professor Burt Sapin withdrew his 11th-grade daughter, Julia, from B-C in January and placed her in a private school after discovering almost by accident that she had been cutting classes at B-CC "on a massive scale."
"Except for one teacher, I would never have known the extent of her cutting classes if I hadn't gone to the school and found out for myself," he says."The school just allows kids to do too much on their own."
Sapin says a private school can be held "more accountable" for student performance than a public school.
"When you're forking our $4,000 or $5,000 a year, you expect results. They just don't fool around."
Even more galling to B-CC supporters than the loss of students to private schools is the number of area parents who opt to transfer their children to nearby archrival Whitman, the undisputed academic king of area public high schools.
According to county regulations B-CC is supposed to receive 40 percent of the graduates of Western Junior High School, while 60 percent are slated to attend Whitman.
In 1977, though, more than half of B-CC's 40 percent opted to transfer to Whitman. The numbers were so large that Alan L. Dodd, the area associate superintent, placed a freeze on outgoing B-CC transfers for two years.
This year the freeze was lifted and thus far 25 B-CC area parents of ninth graders have chosen to send their children to Whitman.
Whitman principal Jerome Marco was B-CC's principal from 1970 to 1974. "The biggest difference between the schools is the high involvement of parents at Whitman at every level of the school," he says. "Parents are on committee talking to other parents, volunteering in classrooms. Hecks, there are 30 people on the PTA executive committee alone."
At B-CC, according to Marco, it's rare if more than 30 people attend general PTA meetings.
B-CC supporters express confidence however, that B-CC will survive, perhaps flourish, despite what they call misimpressions of the school.
"So many people who send their kids to other schools around here just don't take the time to discover or understand what B-CC is all about," says PTA member Faye Cohen. "If they did, they'd see a a tremendously rich place."
B-CC boosters rely on people such as the Donald Lubicks to pass word around that B-CC might not be such a bad palce after all.
Their son Jonathan, says Susan Lubick, "simply bloomed" at B-CC.
"I suppose some parents would say there's not enough restriction, says Susan Lubick. "But as far as I'm concerned at some point you come to realize that you can't control your kids all their lives. Let them have a bit of freedom and they'll come to cherish it. It all depends on how much faith you have in them." "I truly feels lucky," she says, "that we found a school like B-CC."
Principal Lauriat agrees with Susan Lubick's assessment of B-CC.
"We just don't toot our horns enough," Lauriat says.
But some of the leading educational institutions still seem to get B-CC's message.
"B-CC is one of our plums," says Harvard assistant dean of admissions Seamus Malin. "The school's diversity is increasing, and that's an asset.
"We've found over the years," says Malin, "that the qualities of B-CC students are generally ones we wish to have here." CAPTION: Picture 1, The scene is idyllic as two students head for school at Bethesda-Chevy Chase High, where a "real world" situation offers challenge, stimulation, and problems. by James A. Parcell - The Washington Post Picture 2, James Creek, a senior at B-CC, will attend Morehouse University next fall.