Saturday, August 30, 2003

Elder High student's beliefs not affected

'I don't think about it'

By Sharon Coolidge
The Cincinnati Enquirer

[IMAGE] Steve Haverkos has sought solace in the church.
(Gary Landers photo)
| ZOOM |
Steve Haverkos stood in front of more than 250 Elder High School freshmen last week, a sea of purple polo shirts in the bleachers of the Catholic high school's wrestling gymnasium.

Behind him, the words, "What I had I gave, what I saved I lost" loomed large on the wall.

As senior class president, the 17-year-old Bridgetown teen was helping teach Elder's newest students the school's alma mater and cheer.

Haverkos ended the pep rally by explaining the heart of Elder High School, the echoing chants of E-L-D-E-R dying down.

"Elder united, that's what it's all about," he says. "It can't be explained in a few words. It's kids going out into the community at Christmas. ... It's watching (classmates) win a state title in the cold and snow."

It is "brotherhood of people, a bond that lasts forever," he adds. "You guys are now part of Elder. Congratulations."

Sexual molestation allegations that have plagued the church, and touched the school itself, seemed far from the minds of those in the gym.

"I don't think about it," says Haverkos, as he swung his purple rope key chain. "I'm the same person I was. It didn't affect me."

Or his belief in the Catholic Church, he says.

Haverkos believes most students feel removed from accusations. Sure, he says, there are the occasional rumors. But they are just rumors.

And students are more concerned with school, especially freshman.

"They have other things on their mind," Haverkos says. "They're starting high school."

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