Praising student heroes

When it comes to violence in Philadelphia public schools - especially the large high schools - it might seem sometimes that the halls are full of troublemakers.

It shouldn't take heroics to bring attention to the fact that there are more good kids than bad in the city and its schools. But heroism is a powerful way to illustrate the point.

The Philadelphia School Reform Commission has honored four young men for action above and beyond in responding to an emergency that developed during a track meet in which they were participating.

Kyle Young of West Philadelphia High School and Germantown High School students Dwyne Hall, Jerome Plant and Sharod Graham were at the meet April 19 when they saw smoke coming from a house and heard shouts for help. They ran to climb an 8-foot fence and help a disabled woman escape.

They deserve the accolades they are getting. And their schools deserve a fair portrait that includes notice of the many other good kids who attend them.

Farewell to the Sears building

Sometimes to move into the future, you have to let go of a piece of the past.

The Camden planning board decided this week to raze the historic Sears building on Admiral Wilson Boulevard to make way for a $72 million office park for Campbell's Soup Co. It's a sacrifice to keep the city's most valuable corporate citizen in town.

Campbell's pays Camden more than $1 million in lieu of taxes, donates generously to local charities, and provides 1,700 jobs. The 1920s Sears building, though a national historic landmark, has failed to attract a regular tenant. The retailer moved to Moorestown in 1971.

It's a painful decision, but pragmatic.

Visitor Center works

The most popular historic-area destination in Philadelphia may be a building that's only six years old: the Independence Visitor Center on Independence Mall, which opened in 2001. Earlier this month, the center passed the 10 million mark in visitors.

The growing numbers indicate that the Visitor Center services - tickets for tours and events, introductory talks and movies, light snacks, restrooms - are doing their jobs. (See www.independencevisitor

center.com)

It's also good to hear that the visitor center soon will extend its reach: by staffing a City Hall Visitor Center to serve as a central resource for locals and tourists alike. On the newly landscaped Independence Mall, the Visitor Center staff will open an outdoor cafe late this summer - likely bringing many more feet through the doors of the Visitor Center and the area's truly historic attractions.

Father would have been proud

The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. died much too young. So did his eldest child. Yolanda King died Tuesday at age 51. The cause of death wasn't immediately known, though cardiopulmonary problems were believed to be involved. Ms. King leaves two brothers and a sister; her mother, Coretta Scott King, died last year.

Yolanda King was born the same year her father led the Montgomery bus boycott in Alabama - 1955. She was a child of the civil rights movement in every way, growing up a close observer of Rev. King's impact on America. As an adult, Ms. King became an actress but also produced plays and gave motivational speeches that revealed just how much she was like her father.

Yolanda King's death is a reminder of the dream that her father had not only for his children, but for all children - that their world would be be free of the racial bigotry his generation suffered. It is sad that the dream remains elusive. But in his daughter's life, Rev. King would have seen progress. And he would be proud of the role she played in that.