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RICHFIELD TEENS HELP GET RITES SITE READY AFTER FIRE

Others may talk big, but the 1996 graduates of Richfield High showed they are ready to make a difference in the world by helping stave off a local crisis Thursday.

Early Thursday, a custodian went to the school gym to polish the floors in preparation for the 2 p.m. graduation scheduled to be held there. He discovered the gym had burned during the night. Damage was extensive.Fire officials suspect arson, though the investigation is continuing. Officials declined to speculate whether a disgruntled student may have set the blaze.

Shortly afterward, with police, firefighters and district officials milling around the damaged gym, principal Teresa Robinson gave out orders and quickly arranged for the graduation to take place at the nearby LDS tabernacle.

"In less than 10 minutes she had it taken care of," said Duane Bresee, assistant superintendent of the Sevier School District.

Word spread fast among the seniors, who were not in school Thursday, and hundreds of teens showed up at the tabernacle to help move chairs and platforms for 165 graduates and an estimated audience of 4,000. By 9 a.m. the venue change was basically complete, Bresee said.

"If all these kids hadn't shown up from almost nowhere, we'd still be doing it," he said. "It's kind of a good feeling . . . You hear about what kids don't do these days - this is something they did."

The graduation time was not changed.