Second Effort

This was goodbye. The two friends stood alone on the dried, brown grass by the school track, and the meaning of the moment hung in the air like the late-June sun. They had met here 18 months before, almost at this very spot, as messed-up kids, street thugs caught with drugs. Now they were role models, star athletes, campus executives. This rural Pennsylvania reform school, Glen Mills, had transformed them.

Omain Gullette, the jolly 300-pound defensive tackle and student-body vice president, was on his way to Syracuse with a full ride. Henry Atkinson, the pensive, muscular tailback, had one more year—one more presidential term—before the big time. And there they stood the day after Omain's graduation, with the bell tower chiming and the goal posts shimmering and that big stone fence warm to the touch. What more was there for Henry to say?