South won't rise again, but no one is hanging black wreaths or singing dirges at the high school on State Street.

Although the school's death is imminent, the overall mood at the 57-year-old high school is thumbs up.A few tears will undoubtedly fall as South passes into memory June 8. And those who will finish their high school careers at other city high schools freely admit to fears about the future.

But the last year at South has been a final, shining season, and that is the way it was planned.

"In the 13 years I've been here, this year is the best. The educational level is high, the morale is high. That's been our whole objective," said principal LaVar Sorensen.

"We sat down with the staff at the beginning of the year saying, `We can't let this be a funeral year. This is going to be an upbeat year.' That is what it's been. It's my feeling that they're not closing the school because of poor students, poor people or poor equipment. They are closing the best school as opposed to the worst school."

The last Cub win, the last Plantation Ball, the last Southerner, the last chorus of "On South High," the last rebel yell have all come and gone enthusiastically - and quietly - in the eye of the hurricane whipped up over the redrawing of the city's three remaining high schools's boundaries.

"It has occurred all around us. Our thrust has been to prepare our students, work with our community. All of this going on around us, we've known what was going on, but it has not really affected us or hurt us," Sorensen said.

At South it does look like school as usual. In the final days, students scurry between classes, textbooks under arms, and then stop to linger for one last minute in the hall to talk with friends before ducking into algebra or English or biology class.

They talk about yearbook day, graduation, term papers, who is taking whom to the prom and vacation plans. With the school's closing a foregone conclusion, that's not the main topic of hallway conversation. When asked, most students agree with their principal, the man whom they affectionately call "Doc," that resignation and acceptance are the emotions linked with South's end.

"I think everyone is accepting it really well. The shock has pretty much worn off, and now they're committed to trying to make the (other) schools the best they can possibly be," said student body historian Stacey Pack, who will be a member of South's last graduating class.

Cindy Burgon, a junior and a South news show anchor, has already found a niche at Highland for her senior year. She's excited about moving into Highland's journalism program."I think it's going to be OK. I'm in the news up there (at Highland). They're accepting us, I think."

East High-bound Aaron Wiet and Chad Miller have already talked to East's coaches about trying out for the athletic teams.

"It's not my favorite thing (that South is closing), but everyone has generally accepted it. It's not a good thing at all, but it is going to happen, and there's not a lot we can do to stop it," said senior Layne Hilton.

Juniors Akesa Hopoake and Susi Heimuli said they're over any difficulties in accepting the decision but still are worried about the teachers they'll find at East.

"I'm not scared of the students, but the teachers themselves," Akesa said. "They might judge you by where you came from. Teachers here are really friendly and help you out individually."

The girls are afraid that being from South means being labeled as dumb. "You know how they said that people from South, when they graduate, will go to the University of Utah and those from East will go to Harvard," Akesa said.

Alleviating such fears and easing the transition for students like Akesa and Susi has been the work of the district's implementation committee, which set the guidelines for shifting from four city schools to three. Each school, however, has stamped its own style on the transition.

All but a handful of South's students will go to Highland or East, with Highland absorbing the most - 600 students.

To ensure a smooth social transition, Highland increased its pep club from 40 to 60 so 20 slots could be allotted to South girls, boosted the cheerleading ranks from eight to 12 and designated specific student government and auxiliary slots for South kids. East has made similar adjustments.

Although they'll hold the offices at Highland, the actual elections were held at South. Posters for one candidate pasted throughout the halls urged for votes proclaiming, "Build the Bridges Between South And Highland."

South's cultural assembly performed on the Highland stage and the Highland PTA held a discussion where South parents could voice their concerns. East has held discussion groups so students could get acquainted.

Ivan Cendese, who is in his first year as Highland principal, thinks his students are very committed to making a blended school work. "I've been very impressed with the openness of this school."

He knows the image some have of Highland - a rich, white school - and it's something that the South parents mentioned in their discussion, but Cendese thinks that's an unfair characterization.

"Highland is just a big, American high school," said Cendese, noting that although some students come from wealthy families, most are from middle class homes.

"We reach out to everyone," the principal added.

To prove his point, Cendese said everyone at Highland, including faculty, have gained a heightened awareness of the transformation the school is about to undergo. While arguments at school board meetings have often overlooked Highland while focusing on the student composition at East and West, Highland will make the largest change in its 30-year history. It's minority percentage will go from 6 percent to 20 percent.

In three workshops, the school's teachers are being made aware of cultural and ethnic diversity and are being taught to avoid behavior that subtly discriminates.

East vice principal Hermino Trujillo said East, which already has a minority population of 14 percent but will also increase, has always managed to assimilate its diverse student body, and he foresees no problems, although he understands the qualms of the South students. "If you think about it, any time students move to a new school they're nervous."

He said East students are sensitive to their South counterparts because of a suggestion made late last year that East should be shut down. "The threat to close East made the closing of a school very real to our students."

It will still be months before anyone knows the effect of South's closing on its students. For the last decade, principal Sorensen has had a poster on his wall that reads "What appears to be the end may really be a new beginning." Never has it been more appropriate than this year, and Sorensen is just certain that the new beginning for South's students will be bright.