The Philadelphia Inquirer from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on January 23, 1978 · Page 10
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The Philadelphia Inquirer from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania · Page 10

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Issue Date:
Monday, January 23, 1978
Page 10
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METROPOLITAN Philadelphia Inquirer GERVASE J. ROZANSKI Deione Cox plays the father, and Wynona Hilton the mother in Chester High School's production of 'The Prodigal Sister' Something's happening in Chester: You'll find it on the school stage By Michael A. Hobbs lll'tn,cr Mull Writer There is not much genuine culture and family entertainment in Chester these days. The city, which once had six thriving movie theaters, now has only one, and that one features raunchy, X-rated films. But, at Chester High School, classes of talented students, guided by an energetic and dedicated music instructor, are striving to nurture a cultural oasis in the heart of the city's desolate landscape of joblessness, crime, economic decline and housing decay. And that effort is but one sign of a renaissance of the high school itself. The students leading the cultural movement are members of the high school's thriving music and theater workshop, which is directed by music teacher Dallas Fitzsimmons. Students in the workshop are taking courses in music and theater for credit and are participating in the school's ambitious productions of plays and musicals. The popularity of the student productions was demonstrated by the heavily bundled theatergoers who braved Thursday's snowstorm to attend the opening night of the musical comedy "The Prodigal Sister." "We put on two plays a year, three-day runs for both of them, with over 10t) students involved," Fitzsimmons said. "And we're almost always sold out." Some workshop members laugh, however, when it is suggested that part of the reason for their box-office hits may be that there is little else in the way of culture and good entertainment in their Delaware County city. "They come out to see us because we're really good," said Rhoda Simms, a Chester High senior who has the leading role in "The Prodigal Sister," a soulful, modern version of the biblical tale of the prodigal son. "After we did 'Pearlie' (a hit Broadway musical), a lot of people said our production was as 'good as the professionals'." Fitzsimmons, a short, roly-poly man of cheerful countenance, w'ho has been a music instructor for 18 years in the Chester-Upland School District, said that he was far from ethusiastic five years ago when administrators first approached him about starting the workshop. "I didn't think it would ever succeed to the point that it would be worth all the time and effort involved," he said. "I didn't believe enough students would respond, and I was worried about the response from the public. The stands at our basketball and football games are always filled, but I couldn't see that happen- Metropolitan Area News in Brief Suburbs A student from Philadelphia is found dead in her car at State College, Pa. Judith Brennensruhl, 21, a Penn State senior, was discovered yesterday, slumped in the front seat of her car in a uunuiiuiy peaking nca, a university spokesman said. She was last seen about noon Saturday when she told friends that she was going out to clean snow from her car, the spokesman said. When she failed to return by Sunday morning, her friends notified campus police, who found her in the car with the ignition switch on and the gas tank empty, the spokesman said. Police said there was no evidence of foul play. Center County Coroner W. Robert Neff scheduled an autopsy today to determine the exact cause of death. A former United Steel Workers official run in a Montgomery County special election. William Salamone, 38, of West Nor-riton who is with Alan Wood Steel Co., Conshohocken, is the choice of the Democratic committee in the ISOih Legislative District to run in a special election to fill the unex Monique Driggins is the gypsy in the updated biblical tale ing for school plays. "I was probably never more wrong about anything in my life," he said with a chuckle. The workshop's plays and musicals cost the school district almost nothing and even produce a profit. "The auditorium seats 1,000, which means we usually make about $2,000 a night at $2 per ticket," Fitzsimmons said. Chester High Principal Dr. Anthony N. Iacono said the theater workshop has been an important factor in lifting the morale of the school's 2,600 students and in improving the overall educational environment. "It gives any student who's interested a chance to display his talent or to gain experience not only in singing, acting and dancing, but in the technical aspects of theater, like lighting, makeup and costuming," Iacono said. The workshop also gives the public "an artistic picture of Chester High," he added. "People thought of the school only in terms of athletics before. "Now that seems to be changing. We get people from out of town, even from out of state, coming to the plays. And we're offering something to the city's residents that many, especially the young people, have never pired term of Robert Butera. Butera resigned his seat in the state House of Representatives Dec. 14, to devote full time to his bid for the Republican gubernatorial nomination. Salamone defeated Ralph Volpe, 41, a Democratic supervisor from Upper Merion Township for the nomination by an 18-15 vote of the committee. The nomination must be approved by the npmrtrratic State Cnmmittee Sala-mone's Republican opponent in the .March 21 election is Joseph Lashin-ger, 24, Butera's legislative aide for the last two years. Montgomesry County Democrats will have a primary campaign preview Tuesday. Lt. Gov. Ernest Kline, former Auditor General Robert P. Casey, and Peter Flaherty, former mayor of Pittsburgh, all of whom are seeking the Democratic Party's endorsement for the gubernatorial primary, will appear at 8 p.m. Tuesday at the Valley Forge Hilton in King of Prussia. Democratic Committee Chairman Colleen Alexander said other local candida'es and at least four candidates for the nomination for lieutenant governor also are scheduled to attend. been exposed to before." Iacono said the success of the theater workshop was the result of the "new spirit" at Chester High that rose from the ashes of a January 1968 fire that devastated much of the old high school building at Ninth and Fulton Streets. The destruction of the old school saddened many of the city's 55,000 residents. It was the only public high school in the city, and for most of this century its distinctive gray-stone, castle-like edifice served as Chester's most familiar landmark and as a repository of school-day memories and civic pride for adults. There were many, however, who hoped that the end of the old building would also mean the end of the problems that had given Chester High a bad reputation in surrounding communities. That reputation included an educational environment that was generally acknowledged as second-rate, frequent student fights and other disciplinary problems and racial friction, not only in the student body (79 percent black and 21 percent white), but also between the school's black pupils and its administrators and teachers, most of whom are white. Six years later, a $25 million high school, a five-story, fortress-like structure, opened. A hearing will be held on the closing of a railroad station. People wishing to testify for or against the closing of the Crescent-ville station on the Fox Chase Line may meet at 10 a.m. Wednesday at the Cheltenham Commuter Station, Hpchrnnlr Ave!?!?? 3nd O'd Sn'd'r! Road, Cheltenham. SEPTA proposes to close the Crescentville station on March 26. It says the station is used by six commuters a day. A publisher is appointed trustee of a historic trust. Walter H. Annenberg, president of Triangle Publications and former publisher of The Inquirer, has become the 35th member of the board of trustees of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. The trust is a private, nonprofit organization that helps preserve buildings, sites and objects significant in the nation's history or culture. Nearly 16,000 are expected to join the Mothers' March. The 40-year-old tradition of canvassing door-to-door for donations to the March of Dimes will continue Friday as the Philadelphia chapter opens a five-day drive. The goal this And although all is not perfect with the new building (the roof leaks in some areas), a school official said re cently that "it cost us $25 million to change Chester High s image from a negative one to a positive one, and it's been worth every penny." Iacono said the school's Clarence H. Roberts Auditorium, named after a popular school board member who died several years ago, "is architec turally and acoustically equivalent to any professional state on the East Coast." But more than just money and materials are responsible for the high school's improved image. The wide hallways are immaculate. No graffiti. No telltale odor of marijuana, or even cigaret smoke wafting from student restrooms. And the students, more of whom are bound for college than in previous years, move swiftly to their classes and other destinations. Part of the reason for the new discipline at the school is the presence of uniformed guards who carry walkie-talkies as they patrol the hallways and school grounds. But the guards smile and engage in friendly conversation with the students. "We try to treat them like they're our own kids," said Lavinia Farlow, chief of security. "Some of us do have children in the school district, so when we ask them to pick up a candy wrapper or something, they know we're asking them the way a mother or father would." As for the fights and racial friction that were prevalent in the old high school building, Deione Cox, president of the student body and a leading character in the school's plays, said that teachers had trained a number of pupils to act as "peer counselors" when trouble breaks out. "We try and work things out ourselves," he said. "It's better that way, without having to run to the principal everytime something happens." But when something does happen and administrators feel called upon to act, students face stiff punishment. "They used to get suspended just for two or three days," said Ms. Far-low. "Now it can be up to 10. Nobody wants to miss that much school. When you have almost 3,000 students, you'll have a fight every now and then, but nowhere near as much as it used to be." Cox said he first noticed a change in the attitude of many students when requests to join the music-theater workshop began to come "from people you never would dream of becoming active in something like this. We used to have only two workshop classes; now we have three because everybody wants to join." year is $100,000 to support local research on protecting the unborn and the newborn. Region Campbell Soup Co.'s president heads the PENJERDEL Corp. Harold A. Shaub is serving as chairman of the 11-county business organization. He succeeds William S. Cashel Jr., former president of the Bell Telephone Co. PENJERDEL was founded in 1974 as a regional organization to bring together the diverse business and industrial, governmental and other groups in the tristate area. Higher standards for water quality are coming to the Pine Barrens. New Jersey Environmental Protection Commissioner Rocco Ricci is expected to sign the controversial water regulations today in Trenton. "Both the regulations and the mechanics of enforcing the rules in the area designated as critical should become effective (today)," spokesman Wes Denman said last week. Under the regulations, any construction nraiect requiring septic tanks and sewage-disposal systems in the area wm!J need state approval. Any project that would degrade existing water quality 4t 2-B Monday, Jan. The Scene f j REMEMBER THE PICTURE of the cross-eyed tiger that was undergoing surgery in Atlanta last Friday, the same day that Monty, the Siberian tiger at the Philadelphia Zoo was scheduled to have root canal performed on a sore tooth? Well, Monty's opera tion was postponed because of the snow, but the Atlanta operation went on as scheduled. The tiger suffered a cardiac arrest and died on the operating table (above). Pet Peeves: Let's get small Our colleague in letters, Rich Aregood, who writes editorials and rock music criticism for the Daily News (it's not every writer who gets a chance to dump on Griffin Bell and Peter Frampton on the same day) is responsible for today's pet peeve. Aregood is responsible if only for unleashing on us Susan the Somewhat Short. Susan- the Somewhat Short is the name bestowed by Aregood on a (dare we say it?) somewhat short woman of his acquaintance. He had quoted her in a story he wrote about the flap over Randy Newman's hit song, a social parody entitled "Short People." At any rate, Susan all five feet of her arrived at our office bearing a list of non-negotiable peeves of persons of the short persuasion. She started by blasting service station rest rooms that hang mirrors above her head. (Aregood, lurking nearby, pointed out that short men suffer even greater indignities in rest rooms.) Susan rattled off peeve after peeve: the bank counters that are too high, the chairs that leave your feet dangling two inches off the floor, the difficulty of seeing over people's heads at movies, kitchen cabinets that are always too high, etc. With righteous fury, she accused the English language of fostering heightism by burdening the word "short" with negative connotations. No one wants to be "short-changed." People don't like those with "short tempers." "I'm sorry I was short with you this morning" is a common expression. (How does that compare with expressions like, "That was big of you"?) Obnoxious people are given "short shrift," child molesters are called "short eyes" and a favorite prank at summer camp is to "short sheet" someone. Susan's argument made sense, and although we scoffed when she first arrived, she soon grew shorter before our very eyes and our opinion of her shrank considerably. "And you know what my biggest pet peeve is," concluded Susan the Somewhat Short. "Tall people." The Storm: IVs been a bad month for roofs If you've got an ounce of compassion, don't go saying things like "When it rains it pours" to Ron Ketner. Ketner owns the Unclaimed Freight Co., which sells a variety of goods at stores in Lancaster and York, Pa. When the blizzard struck early Friday morning, Ketner received word that drifting snow had caused the roof on his Lancaster store to collapse $500,000 damage. He was trying to absorb the shock when he heard that the roof on his York store had collapsed an additional $125,000 damage. We can't say for sure whether the storm was directly responsible for this, but deliveries have been disrupted all over the city. That may be why the Locust Club, the hang-out for Philadelphia's Jewish elite, had no bagels for yesterday's brunch crowd. Can you imagine lox and cream cheese on white bread? You may not be able to see them yet, but beneath that three-inch layer of ice is a potential pothole. It may be a mere crack today,- but before you know it that pothole may be swallowing Volkswagens whole. The City Streets Department wants to know about any dang2rous pothole that opens its hungry jaws. If you see or stumble across one, call MU6-5S08 to report it. In heavy weeks, Streets Department crews have filled as many as 8,000. Doing Good: Monty's uork for charity Monty Hall became famous by giving away whatever was behind curtain Number Three to someone dressed up like an egg salad sandwich on his "Let's Make a Deal" TV show. Hall is also quite a philanthropist, and he has volunteered to emcee the 19-hour Variety Club Telethon, which will be carried live on Channel 6 from 10 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 4, to 5 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 5. Also appearing at the benefit for handicapped children will be Dick Van Patten, JoAnne Worley, James Darren, Bobby Rydell and Dee Dee Sharp. Clark DeLeon would be prohibited. Denman said two orders were being prepared. One would outline the "critical areas" affected by the water-quality standards. The second would outline enforcement procedures. The regulations were designed to encourage a natural balance of wildlife and vegetation in the Pinelands. A town's ban on door-to-door church solicitations is outlawed. Federal Judge Daniel Snyder issued an injunction preventing Mc-Keesport, Pa., officials from enforcing an ordinance that requires licensing of solicitors. The city had been using the 30-year-old ordinance to prevent members of the Rev. Sun Myung Moon's Unification Church from canvassing for funds. Seven of his followers have been arrested under the law. Judge Snyder said the ordinance applied to commercial solicitation and did not cover church affairs. More than $374,106 in federal tax refunds has not been claimed by New Jersey residents. An Internal Revenue Service spokesman said that 42 of the unclaimed checks are for more than $1,000 and that one is for 56,973.64. The average unclaimed IRS check in New Jersey is for $238. 23, 1978 Philadelphia Inquirer In Philadelphia and its suburbs Associated Pres A Philadelphian and two Bronx students win prizes in a piano competition. They took part yesterday in the First North American International Tchaikovsky Piano Competition at New York's Town Hall. Five contest-Tchaikovsky's "Piano Concerto -No. 1." After 45 minutes' deliberation, the judges announced two first place winners and a second-place finisher. All will receive air tare to the Sixtn International Moscow Competition in June. In addition, cash prizes of $1,-000 each were awarded to the first-place winners and S750 for second. Charles Abramovic, 22, of Philadelphia, a student with Leon Fleisher, was awarded second place. The first-place winners were Diana Kacso, 24, a Brazilian who studies at the Julli-ard School of Music, and Michael Blum, 21, who also studies at Julli-ard. The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey offers aid to Newark and Jersey City to attract business. Port Authority Chairman Alan Sag-ner said staff assistants would be available for the planning and research work considered vital to economic development. Sagner said the offers were made last week to Jersey City Mayor Thomas F. X. Smith .and to Frank Langella, president of a New ark business group. J

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