Perhaps it's the timing of the summit that has clouded the attention span of the region's youth. Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev arrived in the middle of final examinations week, at the height of prom season and just weeks away from summer vacation.

Unlike the Gorbymania of 1987 that sent young people scurrying to buy T-shirts with Cyrillic slogans, hammer-and-sickle earrings and anything in basic black with a red star, Gorbachev's visit this week was greeted in classrooms and on playrounds throughout the area with a resounding yawn.

A few youngsters from out of town tried hard to see the two presidents outside the White House. Brian Davis, 8, from Chicago, said he watched Gorbachev get out of his limousine Thursday to shake hands with bystanders.

"I think he likes America," Brian observed. "I think he would like to live here."

Some came to Washington expressly because of the summit. Darius Grigaliunas, 12, of St. Charles, Ill., was among about 1,000 people who gathered yesterday on the Capitol grounds to protest Gorbachev's policies toward Lithuania.

"I can go out of my home and I won't be afraid," said Darius, who attends a Lithuanian language school in Chicago. "I could go out of my home and there will be enough food and medicine and doctors. These are things they should have too."

But local students, for the most part, seemed more interested in exam notes than glasnost.

Kristina A. Hansen, 17, said her U.S. history class at T.C. Williams High School in Alexandria skipped discussion of the summit because they were rushing to finish studying the 20th century. Last week, the class was up to the Truman administration.

"I wouldn't know about {the summit} if I hadn't read it in the paper," said Hansen, a junior, who will visit the Soviet Union this month. "The students are pretty apathetic. Most don't know too much about it because they have too much to worry about."

The summit also was a subordinate subject at Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School, which has had a sister-school relationship with the Soviet Union for years and sent 11 students there on an exchange program last year.

"We will have a discussion after the summit," said Olga Postnikova, a Russian language teacher at the Bethesda high school who is on leave from the Soviet Union.

In classes throughout the region, teachers used the summit as a backdrop to talk about U.S.-Soviet relations. Some students, particularly those with a personal interest in the politics of the Soviet Union, said they were concerned that events may overtake Gorbachev and the momentum he's created.

The students mentioned Lithuania and the other Baltic states, the Soviet president's increasingly vocal critics and his disagreement with Washington over the future of the two Germanys.

The Soviet people "might decide that since {Gorbachev} is cutting out Lithuania's oil supply they might vote him out of office," said Orestes Henry, 14, an eighth-grader at Kelly Miller Junior High in the District.

At Bethesda-Chevy Chase, junior Lilly Kotlyarov, 15, said she is afraid that the school's planned trip to the Soviet Union next year may be canceled.

"I have relatives in the Soviet Union. They say it's very frightening over there now," Lilly said. "The number of people who do not support {Gorbachev} is growing. I think we won't get to go over. I think the progress will stop."

In Nina Duncan's U.S. history class at Northwestern High School in Prince George's County, students were asked to follow the summit in newspapers and on television. Several students said Gorbachev has erred in his treatment of Lithuania's petition for independence, but agreed with President Bush's cautious approach.

"Even if {the U.S.} gives a little bit of help, they will have to answer to Russia," said Horace Payne, 16. The United States "should stay out of it. Let some other European country help."

Staff writer Dan Beyers contributed to this report.