While Y2K rolled around without much fanfare - Millennium Bug? What's that? - there were plenty of big news stories throughout the year that interested and involved teens.
The Augusta Chronicle, with the help of the Xtreme Teen Board, narrowed down last year's news stories to find those that interested teen-agers the most. Some involved teens; some were broader stories that teens couldn't help being swept up in, along with parents and other adults.
Here are some of the top stories of 2000:
Snow: On Jan. 24, the area saw the kind of wintry weather that's rare in sunny east Georgia and western South Carolina. A layer of white stuff 2-3 inches deep fell on most of the area, and schools closed early. Most students also got a snow day the next day. The weather was part of a storm that moved up the East Coast, burying some cities in 2 feet of snow and knocking out power in parts of the Carolinas.
Bomb threats: The arrest of two Midland Valley High School students in April set off communitywide hysteria when police said the pair were suspected in a threat to bomb the school on the one-year anniversary of the slayings at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colo. Nearly half the freshman class stayed home on April 20, the day the bombing was supposed to take place. Charges against Jaris Smith, 15, were dropped because of insufficient evidence. A Family Court judge convicted freshman Robert Turner, 15, and gave him a probationary sentence.
Teen crime: Several teens were charged and convicted of high-profile crimes in 2000. In April, Tivon Dario Johnson, 17, of Martinez, was arrested after his father was stabbed with a pair of scissors during an argument over Tivon's school attendance and grades.
Judson Harden, 16, was convicted of two counts of murder, and Quinton Cummings, 16, pleaded guilty in the shooting deaths of an Edgefield, S.C., couple who were robbed a year earlier while trying to buy crack cocaine in Augusta. Justin Williams, 17, pleaded guilty to armed robbery in the crime. Judson was 15; Quinton was 14; and Justin was 16 when James and Lisa Stone were killed.
RaShaan E. Bentley, 17, was sentenced to life in prison, and Christopher L. Thomas and Christopher Jamean Butts, both 15, each received a 40-year sentence in the shooting of a pawn shop manager during a 1999 armed robbery. The three testified against Lawrence "Rambo" Miller, 21, saying he recruited them into a gang and told them to rob A-Awesome Jewelry & Pawn on Tobacco Road, where manager William Lake was shot. Mr. Lake survived.
Napster: MP3s, the digital computerized version of cassette tapes, exploded into the public consciousness in 2000 and were readily embraced by teens. One of the highest profile battles over the software was the ongoing skirmish between metal band Metallica and Napster, which provides software for users to trade MP3s. Metallica members labeled the practice copyright infringement, tracked down thousands of computer users who downloaded Metallica MP3s and had them banned from Napster services, and filed a federal lawsuit against Napster. Other artists, including rapper Chuck D, praised the MP3 format as a new way of reaching the audience.
The latest salvo in the ongoing Napster war: The band Rage Against the Machine chastised its management for asking Napster to ban fans who used the service to download singles from Rage's new CD, Renegades. Rage members put up MP3s on their official Web site for fans who had been banned from Napster.
Confederate flag: Teen-agers were just as involved in the debate about the Confederate flag as their parents and other adults. The flag was lowered from its position over the South Carolina Statehouse in Columbia on July 1 after decades of debate and an economic boycott of the state launched by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. More than 3,000 people, many with signs of protest or support, attended the ceremony when the flag was taken down.
Jessica Carpenter: A rising Aiken High School senior, Jessica, 17, was found dead in her Crossland Park home on Aug. 4 and was buried the day she would have registered for classes. An autopsy showed she died of internal bleeding and lack of oxygen. Her murder remains unsolved.
Traffic fatality: On Oct. 1, 17-year-old John Ryan Peacock was killed when his Jeep flipped on Gray Mare Hollow Road after leaving a Beech Island keg party. John, who was driving, was the only person killed in the wreck - his three friends survived, even though they weren't wearing seat belts and were thrown from the vehicle. The Aiken County Coroner's Office asked agents with the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division to find out who provided alcohol at the party.
Reinaldo J. Rivera: The 37-year-old Aiken County man was charged with multiple counts of rape, aggravated assault and murder in the deaths of four young women and the sexual assault of another. Four of the five victims were teen-agers, and three who were killed - Tabatha Bosdell, Melissa Dingess and Tiffaney Wilson - had been missing. Each was 17 years old when she disappeared. Tabatha's body was found in the woods off Wrightsboro Road in Columbia County. The bodies of Melissa and Tiffaney were found off of Interstate 20 in Aiken.
Kegger busts: Police cracked down on underage drinking in 2000, raiding parties where teens had alcohol - including an Oct. 7 all-night party in the woods off Hardy McManus Road in Evans, where teens scattered into the bushes to try to escape when officers showed up. Some partiers said about 200 people had attended, although most weren't seen by officers. Columbia County deputies, who began the raid shortly after 2 a.m., were still rounding up teens three hours later. In all, 16 teen-agers were cited for underage drinking.
Lottery: After heated debate, voters repealed a constitutional ban on lotteries in South Carolina. The opposition likened lotteries to gambling, said they unfairly targeted the poor and expressed mistrust about what the state legislature would do with lottery money. But many students looked forward to the lottery because it meant dollars for education, including cash for local schools, free technical education and possibly college scholarships for South Carolina teens similar to Georgia's HOPE scholarships.
Presidential election: The long, drawn-out process of electing a president consumed the attention of teen-agers, even though many had been apathetic about the elections. There was no escaping the coverage of the ballot counting, and discussion of the electoral college provided a living civics classroom.
Reach Alisa DeMao at (706) 823-3223.
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