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Spree Leaves $750,000 In Damage At High School

February 21, 1985

SALEM, Mass. (AP) _ Angry residents of this historic city are volunteering in droves to clean up Salem High School, where authorities say a student party escalated into a vandalism binge that caused $750,000 in damage, school officals said Thursday.

″I have piles of telephone messages on my desk and with 99 percent of them, the person has left his name and number and has offered to come in and help clean up,″ said Principal Edward Curtin.

″We have librarians who are volunteering to help clean up the library. We have students from Salem State College and Salem High School. People are being unbelievably positive in terms of being willing to come in and help,″ he said.

Two students pleaded innocent Thursday to charges of breaking and entering and malicious destruction of public property in connection with incident early Tuesday. Nine others pleaded innocent Wednesday. A 21-year-old man, Charles Morris of Salem, was charged with contributing to the delinquency of minors.

Police allege Morris, who lived at a church shelter, bought six cases of beer, which the students allegedly drank before the vandalism began.

School officials on Tuesday found smashed computers, broken glass and overturned shelves, tables and books.

Superintendent Henry O’Donnell said the volunteers who offered to help clean will not be called. The district has hired a professional cleaning company to put the school in order before Monday, when it is scheduled to reopen after the week-long winter break.

O’Donnell said the 11 students would probably be suspended for at least 10 days.

″I don’t think we’ll be talking expulsions at this point because most of the students are sophomores and juniors,″ he said.

Salem, located about 22 miles north of Boston, is best known as the site of witch hangings in the late 17th century.

At the hearing Wednesday, Assistant District Attorney Fraser Hori described the scene at the high school following the incident.

″The rampage that started throughout the school has been described as if a bomb had gone off,″ Hori told District Court Judge David Doyle.

He said furniture was thrown from the third floor to the first, at least five television sets and five computers were smashed, and at least 25 typewriters were broken.

″The list goes on and on. There were more than 300 windows broken. The cost of the damage is in excess of $750,000,″ Hori said.

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