Charismatic and innovative, Ben Ross has an outstanding reputation as a teacher. Although his colleagues sometimes jadedly refer to him as "overzealous," his students, drawn by his intensity and "the way he (gets) so interested and involved in a topic that they (can't) help but be interested also," love him. Often frustrated by his students' casual approach towards learning, Mr. Ross takes his job very seriously, often doing extra research on topics and staying up late into the night in his determination to motivate his classes and help them get the most out of the material he presents. It is this propensity on Ben Ross's part that gives rise to the experiment resulting in The Wave.

Mr. Ross has a bent toward dramatic leadership, as he shows when he introduces the experiment to his class. His passion and energy quickly lure the students into active participation in the project, and his intelligent analysis easily brings them to accept its basic stated underlying principles. A seeker of knowledge himself, Mr. Ross is intrigued when the experiment takes on a life of its own. Curious as to where it may lead, he exercises what in hindsight might be called poor judgment in allowing the project to follow its natural course. During a certain period in the development of The Wave, Mr. Ross himself gets caught up in his own creation, at one point even fantasizing about gaining personal recognition for new findings on classroom discipline resulting from his experiment. His deviation is thankfully brief and temporary, however, and overall he remains acutely aware of his responsibilities; when The Wave is ended, he immediately takes steps to see to the well-being of those who have been most negatively affected by what has happened.

The student who has the most active role in the narrative is Laurie Saunders, a member of the school newspaper staff who is known for her popularity and academic ability. Laurie is deeply thoughtful and has an inquiring nature; it is originally she...

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