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CITY LIMITS: Channel One in Philadelphia

(03/06/91 10:00am)

Television isn't just for couch potatoes anymore. Now, through a program called Channel One, televisions and video cassette recorders have entered elementary school classrooms. But before you decide to forego your college education to return to grade school for non-stop cartoons, be forewarned: Channel One is not fun and games. The program, developed in March by Knoxville, Tennessee-based Whittle Communications, is a twelve-minute current-events news program. On the surface, it seems harmless enough -- providing daily, up-to-date information to American school kids, a group that has been chastised of late for not paying attention to world events. But along with the news comes commercials, and parent and teacher groups across the nation have prevented their school systems from using the free machines for fear the advertisements are an unfair influence on a captive audience of malleable minds. · Channel One's news program is beamed by satellite daily to middle and high school students in schools who wish to participate in the program. According to Whittle Communications spokesperson Marilyn Harrison, Channel One is like a network news broadcast on a tenth-grade level. Harrison said that Whittle developed Channel One because company officials felt that "students should be more educated and knowledgeable of current events and issues because the future depends on the knowledge of these issues." Whittle provides the technology for free in order to make these programs accessible to the schools: a satellite dish, two VCRs and wiring for the whole school are provided as well as one television monitor for every 23 students. This technology, which is often too expensive for inner city school systems, also allows schools to broadcast school announcements, assemblies, and school-run TV shows. And after 18 months of heated debate over Channel One, the Philadelphia School District just passed a resolution to implement the program within certain schools that want to participate. Eligible schools are institutions with 150 or more students in grades six and above. The school district decided to make Channel One an option because declining revenues in the district have prevented schools from buying cutting-edge technologies to enhance students' education, according to Philadelphia School District spokesperson William Thompson. The 6000 participating schools in 46 states are required to broadcast 90% of the news shows aired. Each day teachers review the program to see if they feel it is appropriate for the students and if it isn't, they won't show Channel One that day. Teachers at several local schools with Channel One said last week the programs provide information about current events, careers, and social studies skills. The teachers added that students can also improve their writing and critical thinking abilities. According to Murray Rothman, who teaches television production at Pennsauken, Channel One gives students a better awareness of geography and current events while it piques their interest. "It is similar to an MTV-type news show for kids because of its graphics," Rothman said. But even with such benefits, Channel One has come under fire for two minutes of commercials aired in each edition of the program. The commercials, lasting from thirty seconds to two minutes, feature either a regular advertisement of a product, such as a bag of M & M's, or a public service announcement, like Burger King's "Stay in School" message. These commercials are subjected to strict guidelines devised by a panel of active educators, Whittle spokesperson Harrsion said. According to Graduate School of Education Dean Marvin Lazerson, schools would be wise to participate in Channel One, even if only to acquire the accompanying equipment. Once schools have the equipment, they can then use it for other educational purposes, such as watching educational movies. Many who oppose Channel One because of its commercials believe that schools are not the places for commercial messages, and that the students would be influenced too much by the commercials and would, therefore, not take the show seriously. Trenton Public School Video Specialist Dave Winogron, who supports the Channel One program, described the opponents' argument as the "captive audience" effect. Furthermore, opponents believe that the time spent watching Channel One could be used for instruction and education of traditional subjects, Winogron said. According to Philadelphia school spokesperson Thompson, schools are already filled with commercial messages and corporate identities such as the publisher's name on a textbook or the manufacturer's name on a bottle of glue. "Channel One is like regular TV in the sense that students watch it like regular TV," Thompson said. "When the program is on they watch, and when the commercials are on, they talk." According to Trenton's Winogron, students are not negatively influenced by commercials, but they are positively influenced by the news portion. As in a home situation, Winogron added, students discuss the news during the commercials and are not affected by the commercials aired on the program. According to Sister Patricia Fadden, the Catholic Education Office's director of curriculum and instruction of secondary schools, many who originally believed that Channel One was a "waste of time" and an intrusion into teaching changed their minds after trying it for six months. Winogron also said that people at Trenton previously opposed are now "excited" by Channel One because they believe that the program is not taking away from instructional time and that the news stories are of high quality. While University City High School does not have the program yet, the school's principal, Davis Martin, said they will be eligible for it and plan to take advantage of it. "Sometimes you've got to give to gain a whole lot," Martin said. "The knowledge the students will receive will be so much more worthwhile than those two minutes of advertising." The Archdiocese Schools of Philadelphia faced another opposing force to Channel One -- an objection to the content or the slant of the news stories. For example, if the program dealt with AIDS or sexually transmitted diseases by promoting safe sex through contraception, the lesson the program was passing on would not be in accordance with church doctrine, according to Fadden. As a result, Channel One reached an agreement with the 16 participating Archdiocese schools, allowing them to exempt programs that they do not show for such reasons in their required 90 percent rate. Whittle spokesperson Harrison also said that Whittle chose television as its medium because "it is an age of technology and some schools are starving poor of this technology. Therefore, Channel One gets the equipment into the schools at no cost to them while benefitting with education and other opportunities." Graduate School of Education Dean Lazerson said that the effects of Channel One depend on how it is presented in the classroom. "If Channel One is only seen for 15 minutes of the day without any discussion, then the program isn't working to its potential and not being beneficial to the students," Lazerson said.

Independence park buildings to reopen this spring

(02/14/91 10:00am)

Last fall, when visitors came to Independence National Historical Park, it was closed -- a victim of the federal budget crisis, which left the park without funds. Since then, 11 of the parks' 19 buildings have opened, but federal budget restraints have kept the remaining eight shut since October. But these too shall reopen this spring, leaving the park fully open and in good repair for the summer celebration of the 200th anniversary of the Bill of Rights. In addition to the eight closed buildings, the roof of Independence Hall leaked and part of the park, at the foot of the Ben Franklin Bridge, was unattended and appeared unkempt. In fact, there had been a sign on the block saying "Dangerous, walk at your own risk" because roots of trees had forced up the stones of the walkway. But because of public outcry, funds were made available to make the repairs by spring. According to park Superintendent Hobart Cawood, park officials anticipated that they would only be able to operate the park for a portion of the fiscal year, starting last October, because of cuts within the national budget. If park officials wanted the park to be open during the busy season this summer, they would have had to close down in the colder months. Cawood said the park chose eight buildings to close during the winter -- building which generally receive fewer visitors. "We couldn't afford to close the Liberty Bell or Independence Hall," Cawood said. The public responded to the closings by writing letters to the park and telephoning their congressmen. Reporters for The Wall Street Journal and Historical News, a newsletter for the National Trust Historical Preservation, wrote articles about the closing of the buildings and the needed repairs. In response to public outcry, U.S. Representative Tom Foglietta (D-Phila.) arranged to secure funding to save the leaking roof of Independence Hall and to obtain operating funds for the park beyond the amount listed in President Bush's budget, according to Rebecca Tepper, a legislative assistant for Foglietta. With Foglietta's lobbying, Congress appropriated $653,800 for the park while the National Park Service gave $300,000 for repair and operating costs. Cawood said that the entire park will now be open for the upcoming fiscal year and will receive more money than Bush recommended in his budget. But Cawood said tourism has been slow this winter season, down 13 percent compared with last January. Tom Davies, Visual Information Specialist at the park, cited several reasons for the slow season, including the Persian Gulf war, fear of terrorism, recession, and the closing of the buildings. According to Davies, approximately 1.5 million tourists visited the park during 1990. Students reported mixed reactions about the reopenings. College freshman Peter Goffstein said that he supported the funding to reopen park buildings. "We definitely need it opened, because the park is part of our nation's history and Americans should be proud of this history. We need a lot of nationalism now in this time of war," Goffstein said. However, Rick Chadha, a College senior, said he understood the need to cut back during a time of strained federal funds. "I think it is great the park is reopening, but it's not that bad that the park was closed down," Chadha said. "It is all a matter of priority where the national government allots its money." On February 17, the Second Bank of the United States, one of the eight buildings closed last October, will reopen with an exhibit celebrating 18th century painter Charles Wilson Peale in "Portraits in a Capital City." The rest of the buildings will open in mid-April. In addition, Cawood said, the roof of Independence Hall will be fixed and the third block will be made safer and walkable by April.

U. students advise high schoolers

(02/04/91 10:00am)

Twenty members of the Black Wharton Undergraduate Association explained the importance of continuing education to about 400 University City High School seniors during the association's first Business Day on Friday. Approximately 400 high school students participated in the program. The students were split into groups so two or three association members could speak directly to the students. In one section, Law and MBA student Michael Jones told a group of six students that they must pursue an education in order to succeed in business. "If you have the opportunity to expand your skill base, take advantage of it, because otherwise you are at a disadvantage," Jones said. The day consisted of three 39 sessions during which Association members met with the groups of up to thirty students. Business Day coordinator Michelle Fambro told the same group of students that the concept of business had varied meanings, and that business "doesn't stop when one leaves the nine-to-five job." "Business is an everyday experience," the Wharton junior said. "Everyday a transaction occurs whether it is buying a SEPTA token or lunch." Because business encompasses many experiences, Jones said, certain skills are required for success, such as computer literacy, typing, and economics. "These programs are good because they build confidence and keep the brain sharp," Jones said. According to Clawson, the programs teach certain skills which allow participants to become unique and "sell" themselves, a technique used in interviews for either business or college. Fambro advised students to show employers and colleges that they have something of value to offer, because the students always have something to offer and interviewers have something to gain. The Black Wharton Undergraduate Association, working with the African-American MBA Association, held Business Day because, according to Fambro, the students who are soon graduating need help in making post-graduation plans. According to organizers, Business Day was held at University City High School because of its proximity to the University, its receptiveness to the program, and the support of school principal Davis Martin.

CITY LIMITS: Area groups refurbish building, fight drugs

(02/01/91 10:00am)

Fighting drugs, fighting crime, and fighting to improve their community, the West Philadelphia Coalition of Neighborhoods and Businesses has worked for four years to eliminate community "blight." According to Lee Tolbert, president of the coalition, the organization formed to fulfill three main objectives. Participants are dedicated to improve the local social and economic conditions; to promote the area as a place to live, work and conduct business; and to unite area community and business organizations for the benefit of all West Philadelphia, Tolbert said. The coalition was originally made up of eight community groups, but has now grown to include 57 groups. Although the focuses of the eight groups ranged from community non-profit organizations to a tavern, the founders joined together initially to deal with crime on the Lancaster Avenue business strip. Now, the area now covered by the organization includes over 300,000 West Philadelphia residents. Its boundaries stretch west to Cobbs Creek Parkway and east to the Schuylkill River, north to City Line Avenue and south beyond Baltimore Avenue. The coalition attributes its success to its greatly needed programs and intends to expand them while it plans to incorporate new ones. The organization has instituted a range of programs "to address those issues that affect the quality of life of residents and businesses of West Philadelphia," according to Joan Williams, secretary of the coalition. Its first project was Townwatch, an attempt to safeguard the community from crime by training block "captains" and residents. Program organizers have established a crime hot line and a post office box through which residents can report crime. In addition, neighborhoods are connected by a radio network with several base stations. The coalition has worked with a branch of the Wharton West Philadelphia Project in order to identify and rehabilitate vacant and abandoned buildings. Staffers of the project's Technical Assistance Program set up a computer program which gives information ranging from the ownership of the building to its proximity to public transportation. The purpose of this program is to locate these buildings, to solicit them from the city for rehabilitation, and to offer them at a reasonable price to low and middle income families. The coalition began to work with the Wharton West Philadelphia Project because, according to Tolbert, the project could provide an unlimited amount of resources to this umbrella of smaller businesses and community groups. Another of the coalition's programs aims at combating drug and alcohol abuse and drug trafficking. This group has organized anti-drug rallies, support groups and a handbook instructing residents how to be aware of danger signals of drug abuse. The handbook also instructs residents how to safeguard the community by getting involved in community, church, and school groups. The coalition has created a "clearinghouse" of information by establishing a job bank through which residents can find employment opportunities. "We feel strongly to bridge the gap between the University of Pennsylvania and the community," Tolbert said. "We wish to play as a liaison where these two entites can grieve their differences and can work together and support each other."

New police program helps SAVE cars

(01/24/91 10:00am)

For a few automobile owners in Philadelphia, seeing flashing red and blue lights in the rearview mirror late at night actually can put them at ease. As part of a new program called Project SAVE, car owners can put decals on the car which request that the officer pull the car over between midnight and 6 a.m. Project SAVE -- Stolen Auto Verification Effort -- is a program organized by the Philadelphia Police Department to reduce the amount of vehicles that are stolen in Philadelphia, according to Officer Margaret Gerini of the 18th Police District. Police do not guarantee that a car registered in this program will never be stolen, but cars with SAVE decals are less likely targets for thieves, Gerini said. By affixing SAVE stickers to the rear window of a car, the owner gives police permission to stop the vehicle during the hours of 12 a.m. and 6 a.m. A participant receives two yellow decals, approximately sixteen inches square, which are numbered to correspond with the registration form and indicate the owner's home police district. When police officers pull a car over, the driver must present proof of ownership or tell to the officers the name and address of the car's owner. If unable to do either, the driver will be taken to the nearest police station. Officers then call the car's registered owner who can either grant permission to the driver over the telephone or press charges against the driver at the police station. Gerini said a participant on even a quick trip late at night could see the program at work. "It's possible to be stopped five times even if one is seen driving a registered car during a midnight food run," Gerini said. Project SAVE began at one precinct in Philadelphia over two years ago, and is now operating throughout the city. Because of community support and publicity from newspapers and television stations, over 9400 cars have been registered in the program, Gerini said. She added that of those cars, 20 have been stolen in the past three years and 17 of them have been recovered. To register for Project SAVE, the owner brings the car and the current registration card to their local police station. The station that covers the University's area is located at 61st and Pine streets. The owner must sign a waiver allowing the police to pull the car over during the designated hours. The owner also provides a list of other approved drivers. Students who drive cars owned by their parents must obtain a notarized letter from the parents granting permission to participate in the program. Gerini said there were benefits of the program beyond the recovery aspect. The decals themselves are a deterrent to thieves, she said. And when police see a SAVE car struck by another or when they see a criminal tampering with a SAVE car, the officers are able to quickly identify the owner. Presently, only four University students are participating in Project SAVE, Gerini said. However, the officers from the 18th Police District, together with officers from University Police, plan to set up a workshop informing students about the program sometime during this semester. While some students said that they believed such a program could be successful, others, like Wharton freshman David Fiorino said that the program would not suit college students. "It isn't aimed for college students, but for those that aren't out often between 12 and 6," Fiorino said.

Bar license appeals still undecided

(01/18/91 10:00am)

State officials have not yet decided on the appeals of two campus-area restaraunts whose liquor licenses were not renewed, an official said yesterday. LCB spokesperson Donna Pinkham said yesterday that High Rise Restaurant, whose licence was also not renewed last fall, struck a compromise with the LCB, agreeing to sell its license. Backstreet and Kelly and Cohen filed appeals shortly after the board's decision not to renew their licenses. In November, the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania allowed the two establishments to serve alcohol until the LCB decides on the appeals. Pinkham said that the October findings of the board are still being investigated, adding that the findings could be overturned. The LCB rejected the license renewal applications of the establishments because of their histories of serving alcohol to minors. In the past three years, the bars were cited two or three times each and fined between $300 and $1250. Pinkham said that High Rise's agreement with the LCB states that it can hold onto its liquor license for "safe keeping" without selling any liquor or beer. However, the restaurant must sell its license within one year or must let it expire, she added. But High Rise owner Panos Bomis said yesterday that he had not reached such a compromise with the LCB. He said liquor licences are worth $25,000 to $30,000. Backstreet, Kelly and Cohen, and High Rise all have been trying to rebuild their businesses since last fall's ruling. According to Backstreet owner Mark Wright, business is slow, despite the court order allowing the bar to serve alcohol again. "In fact, it has gone down about 60 percent because people don't know that Backstreet is open and that they are serving alcohol along with snacks and sandwiches," said Wright. Wright stressed that identification of all patrons will be closely examined in order to prevent underage drinking. "It's tough because everyone has fake IDs," Wright said. According to Vinesh Vyas, owner of Kelly and Cohen, business fell after the October findings, but has recently improved. He said the need to scrutinize patrons' identification is "something we have to live with." High Rise owner Bomis said that business is strong and that food sales have been successful despite the lack of alcohol.

Troy's deli returns for late-night munchies

(01/17/91 10:00am)

After a semester-long drought, late-night eggels returned last month at a most appropriate time: 12:30 a.m. Following a change of ownership, renovations and new additions to the menu, Troy's Restaurant and Deli re-opened December 14, drawing final exam crowds until 4 a.m., according to manager Tony Sapmasi. State police closed Troy's in May 1990, when the police found the restaurant operating without a food retail permit. One day earlier, state police had banned Troy's former owners from selling alcohol. According to Sapmasi, co-owner John Kollias cleaned up the 39th street restaurant and redecorated it during its closure, giving it a more "homey" feeling. In addition, Kollias renovated the restaurant by tripling the kitchen grill's capacity and installing new paneling and counters. Troy's does not now offer beer, but Kollias expressed interest in acquiring a license to do so. He also said that if the new owners obtain a license, they would take extra care to control underage drinking. However, Kollias said that they would not seek a new liquor license in the near future. The previous owners of Troy's were members of Kollias' family who have either left or retired. Kollias said he expanded the menu to include more breakfast specials as well as adding pita-burgers, mozzarella sticks, milkshakes, and ice cream sodas. According to Kollias, business was especially brisk the first week after it reopened and continues to expect busy hours between 11 p.m. and 4 a.m. Kollias added that he and the employees eagerly anticipated reopening. "We like the students and vice versa," Kollias said. Students praised the return of Troy's for its food -- especially the eggels -- and its long hours. "It's the best place to come for midnight drinks and munchies," College senior Tim Holt said. The restaurant will again remain open until 4 or 5 a.m. during the week and 24 hours on weekends.

REVIEW: 'Desert' full of life, messages

(11/30/90 10:00am)

Addressing society today and its values, Take Charge Theater put on Stopping the Desert, an entertaining show which forces its audience to question its values. Organizers said before the show, that they hoped the audience would be able to understand and related to the show's message of the questionable nature of values because of their economic basis. In almost every scene, there is a relation to money, income, or economics to clarify the message. Additionally, the show is reinforced by a solid script, realistic characters, and creative set. However, the play does not offer a solution to stopping this "desert" -- which is both an emotional one and a moral one, devoid of life. It just describes this cycle of destruction in which the symbolic "soil erodes because the trees die and the trees die because the soil erodes," leaving the audience both frustrated and depressed. Stopping the Desert effectively made its point by stressing black comedy and sarcasm. The quick and clever lines were humorous while the serious undertones were evident. The tightly-knit, seven-member member cast delivered great performances, which can be attributed to their realistic and identifiable characters. Villanova University student Frank Fuselier's performance was very powerful in embodying the message of the show as an "invisible manipulator." The set depicting the sterility of American society also emphasizes the message. Wire fences, trash cans, broken refrigerators, tires, and aluminum cans strewn all over the stage looks like a 1990s garbage dump and represents West Philadelphia. One of the weaker parts of the show was the character "Reed," a corporate giant, played by College sophomore Debra Goodfader. She performed the part admirably, but the character lacked any real depth that could be developed further. Overall, the solid acting combined with believable characters makes the show both entertaining and eye-opening. Stopping the Desert will play tonight and Saturday night at 8 p.m. in the Harold Prince Theatre of the Annenberg Center. Tickets are available on Locust Walk and at the Annenberg Center Box Office for $4.

SPOTLIGHT: 'Desert' hopes to provide oasis of realism

(11/29/90 10:00am)

From the outset, Take Charge Theater's Stopping the Desert tries to make a statement of contemporary American values, morals, responsibilities -- and about the University. The show, which opens tonight at the Harold Prince Theatre, continues on the tradition of Take Charge shows which are regularly based on socially relevant themes. For instance, the group's first production, Bent, dealt with homosexual love. Written by playwright Glen Merzer, the black comedy tries to show how contemporary American society "has very shallow and very questionable morals based on economics rather than true idealism or true concern for others," according to the show's director, Randy Wise. But the show has been adapted for the University community with themes that will relate to college-age students. Take Charge Theater creator and Student Performing Arts Coordinator Kathryn Helene said she and Wise chose this play because students would be able to relate to a character or scenario and would be forced to understand the message. In addition, organizers hope students will understand the significance of the title, which refers to the continual erosion of values and is a metaphor for a desert where ideals are dead and can't grow back. According to the show's organizers, Stopping the Desert relates the story of a group of young people deciding their stances on issues such as racism, the environment, colonialism, anti-materialism, artistic freedom, values and responsibilities, and eventually how they feel about each other. But the production does not stop with just words. Organizers have spent hours creating a set that they hope will reflect the sterility of American society. What they came up with was a 1990s garbage dump filled with wire fences, trash cans, tires, broken refrigerators, and aluminum cans -- which is also designed to represent West Philadelphia. Cast members said they were extremely excited as the play came together for its opening night. For most, this play is their first at the University and they hope to make in impact on the performing arts community and the University. Stopping the Desert will be showing at the Harold Prince Theatre of the Annenberg Center tonight through Saturday, at 8 p.m. Tickets will be on sale at the Annenberg Center Box Office, 3680 Walnut Street (898-6791) or on Locust Walk this week for $4.

Students remember veterans at ceremony

(11/12/90 10:00am)

As hundreds of thousands of U.S. troops are stationed in Saudi Arabia poised for a possible war, hundreds of reserve officers and students paid tribute to those killed in past wars at a ceremony Friday. With flags blowing with the slight breeze and the Star-Spangled Banner being played in the background, members of the University's ROTC gathered at the Veterans' Memorial in front of the Palestra in a solemn ceremony marking Veterans' Day. Many officers and speakers used the ceremony to reflect on the current situation in the Persian Gulf and hoped that many people would understand the importance of remembering those killed while fighting for their nation. U.S. Representative Paul Kanjorski (D-11th District) gave a 10-minute address stressing the importance of the day saying it publicizes the message of peace and the United States' willingness to fight for it, at any cost. "For 200 years, we have been celebrating the tradition of performing war in order to keep peace," Kanjorski said. "In Saudi Arabia, the President and the Army are performing acts of freedom because this is the first time which the united world is standing to maintain peace." Kanjorski suggested creating an international criminal code, which would punish a leader or a society because of its "egregious" conduct. "If we accomplish this, we will accomplish peace," Kanjorski said. Senior Cadet Captain Brian Bell said Veterans' Day gives him "the opportunity to look at past officers and soldiers and all they did to promote peace and democracy." But he added that it also brings the Gulf crisis that much closer to him adding that he is concerned for the three people he knows that are serving in Saudi Arabia. Cadet Rachael Slayd, a battalion commander and organizer of the ceremony, she she cannot help but concentrate on the Persian Gulf because "the current veterans are there now and you wonder when you'll become one of them." The ceremony included a march from the Hollenbach Center with students representing the University, Bryn Mawr College, St. Joseph's University and other area colleges. The ceremony closed with Representative Kanjorski laying a wreath at the base of the monument as the Reserve Officers Training Corps band played "Taps" and the battalions raised their arms in salute at the conclusion of the ceremony.

U. alums offer to pay kids' college tuition

(10/19/90 9:00am)

Yesterday was an unusually lucky day for Room 205 of Harrity Elementary School. At 8:30 a.m., parents and students of the 26-member third grade class learned that through the University-run Say Yes to Education program, Bucks County residents Robert and Jane Toll have guaranteed college or vocational program tuition for each student who completes high school. Mr. Toll is a 1966 Law School graduate and Mrs. Toll received a master's degree from the Graduate School of Education the same year. The gift appeared to be a surprise to the bright-eyed third-graders and their anxious parents, who had been summoned mysteriously to the West Philadelphia elementary school's gymnasium for the announcement. Smiles, applause and a standing ovation greeted the news. Carrie Graham, grandmother of third-grader Rahee Graham, beamed as she called the opportunity for her grandson to go to college "incredible." Jane Toll said that she and her husband wanted to "give [the students] the ability and opportunity to become anything they wish to be." Robert Toll is the chairman and chief executive officer of a construction firm. Jane Toll is the president of a real estate development corporation. In addition to paying the tuitions, the Tolls will contribute to educational enrichment and mentorial programs for the students throughout their school years. Say Yes to Education was born in 1987, when University Trustee George Weiss and Overseer and Associate Graduate School of Education Trustee Diane Weiss pledged to pay for the college educations of 112 sixth-graders at the Belmont Elementary School, if the children had to promised to finish high school. Its goal is to redirect the lives of West Philadelphia elementary-school students by providing financial, educational and psychological assistance and encouragement. Jane Toll said that she and her husband were inspired by philanthropist Eugene Lang, who in 1982 promised to pay for the college education of all 57 graduates of the East Harlem Elementary School in New York City. The Tolls handpicked Harrity because of its proximity to the University, and because it was suggested by the Collaborative for West Philadelphia Public Schools, created by Philadelphia School Superintendent Constance Clayton and University President Sheldon Hackney. The original Belmont Elementary School students, now in 10th grade and numbering 67, were present to welcome their new "brothers and sisters" to the Say Yes to Education "family" and to pass on footballs to each child. The football is the program's symbol -- it represents the chance and opportunity to achieve their ambitions. Linda Hampton, mother of a student in the original sixth grade class, encouraged the parents of the third graders to get involved. "This program will allow my son to become a good and productive person," she said. Diane Weiss instructed the thrid-graders to "take this football and run with it as far as you can go because we have a goal, winning, getting a college education." Superintendent Clayton gave the class her own present, an oversized diploma representing the students' "first touchdown." The diploma proclaimed that the third graders will complete their high school education. In addition to matching donors and classes, the Say Yes to Education program sponsors trips to various universities to show the students what college is like. University of Hartford President Humphrey Tonkin told the audience that the "Say Yes family" is expanding to his city. Tonkin, Hackney and the Weiss's were preparing to fly to Hartford yesterday to announce a sponsorhip there.

Free Library toasts its grand reopening

(09/18/90 9:00am)

Mayor Wilson Goode and City Council member Lucien Blackwell were featured speakers yesterday afternoon at the official, long-awaited grand reopening of the Free Library's West Philadelphia branch. The library, located at 40th and Walnut streets, opened in August after a three-year closing for asbestos cleanup and renovations. The closing was marred by delays and catastrophies, including a basement flood and vandalism. Staff members, patrons and children anxiously awaited Goode's arrival. Once he came, at noon sharp, the ceremony began with a short trumpet recital by Girls' High School senior Ouida Smith, of West Philadelphia. In his five-minute speech, Goode, a wide smile on his face, called libraries "an investment of the children, the future of the city" and said that "as long as Philadelphia has kids who can read and understand, this city has a future." The noontime re-opening ceremony ended with a traditional red-ribbon cutting, performed by Goode with help from third-grader Paul Bloor and fourth-grader Rayna Bostic, both students at the Spruce Hill Christian School. Head Librarian Sandra Viddy said that staff from Free Library branches across Philadelphia gathered together to clean up the mess left by the asbestos removal and renovations. Elliot Shelkrot, president and director of the Free Library system, said that the library received hundreds of supporting calls and letters -- proof that everyone "loves, needs, and uses" it. The 40th and Walnut streets branch, which actually opened four weeks ago, has had more than 4000 books in circulation already, and has issued more than 400 library cards.