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BIRTHDAY WISH FULFILLED - DAY CLASSES AT CITADEL

SHARE BIRTHDAY WISH FULFILLED - DAY CLASSES AT CITADEL

Shannon Faulkner got her birthday wish Thursday - starting day classes at the Citadel, the first woman to attend classes with the all-male corps of cadets in the school's 151-year-history.

Faulkner, who is celebrating her 19th birthday, was greeted at the door by dean Clifton Poole, who told her "Let's go get an education."Her first class was biology, at 8 a.m. Her second scheduled class was an education course.

Several women gathered outside shouted "Go, Shannon" as she passed by.

"She's doing the right thing. She's doing what is right. I think she's very brave," said Cynthia Fort, a high school student from Mount Pleasant who came to show her support.

Faulkner sued the state-supported military college last year charging the all-male admissions policy is unconstitutional. A federal judge later ruled she could attend classes but not join the corps or live in the barracks while the lawsuit is heard.

The Citadel lost its last appeal to keep her out of classes earlier this week. But the trial on whether she can join the corps is still ahead. A trial date has not been set.

Cadets said they accepted the fact Faulkner would be there.

"We're disappointed our single-gender education at The Citadel no longer exists," said senior Bart Weatherington. "But she's going to be here, and all we can do is move on."

School officials fought her all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, but she cleared a major hurdle when Chief Justice William Rehnquist said she could take classes with the cadets.

Faulkner was accepted by The Citadel last year after she had references to her sex deleted from her high school transcripts. The school revoked its offer of admission after learning she is a woman, prompting her lawsuit.

The Citadel and Virginia Military Institute are the nation's only state-supported all-male military colleges. VMI's admissions policy is also under challenge in federal court.

Faulkner will live with a family near campus. Her own family lives 220 miles away in Powdersville.