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As a million backpacked youngsters thronged back into classrooms last week, the rest of us were suddenly back in high school, too. Cheerleader-in-chief George Bush, facing difficult student-council elections, gave a televised pep rally in which he vowed once again that America would crush its hated crosstown rival, Osama bin Laden. As extra credit, the White House also admitted that fourteen terror suspects had been given detention in torture-friendly prisons around the world (the president described their interrogation techniques as a ­Montessori-­like “alternative set of procedures”). ABC planned to give copies of its dramatized 9/11 mini­series to high schools as history-class teaching materials, even though it sort of made up some stuff. The amount of money raised by A-student Hillary Clinton for her favorite charity—herself—topped $45 million. A food fight was narrowly averted in Brooklyn when someone chucked a chocolate doughnut at Mayor Bloomberg’s head. The nasty debate-club smackdown between Democratic ­attorney-general candidates Andrew Cuomo and Mark Green ended in finger-pointing and name-calling but no hair-pulling. BMOC Sumner Redstone, who’d already declared Tom Cruise least likely to succeed, ousted cool kid Tom Freston from Viacom and vowed to run his AV club for another 20 to 30 years. A cut-rate field trip from Chinatown to Boston ended early when a Fung Wah bus wiped out on Interstate 290, injuring 34 passengers. Art-class standout Sarah Morris decorated Lever House on Park Avenue with a 19,000-square-foot-plus mural called Robert Towne, in honor of the screenwriter of Chinatown—and Days of Thunder. Transfer student Katie Couric was voted most popular by evening-news viewers. Lethal loner Ralph “Bucky” Phillips continued to play hooky upstate. Rather than simply scrawl liza has herpes on the wall of a boys’-room stall, Liza Minnelli’s former lab partner David Gest filed a lawsuit to that effect. (Liza counterclaimed that he tried to poison her.)

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