Northeast Times

A glimpse of the future

  • Lorraine Curry, 18, of Torresdale, smiles with Nutter at the PAL Day on Feb. 21. MARIA POUCHNIKOVA / TIMES PHOTOS

  • A day in the life of City Hall: Little Flower junior Alexis Colon kicks off the 2014 PAL Day at City Hall with Mayor Michael Nutter, her mentor for the day.

  • (From left) Kyree Henry, Deputy Sheriff Paris Washington, D.A. Seth Williams and Saphir Green take an Oath of Office before the day’s activities.

Mi­chael Nut­ter in­tro­duced the city to his pos­sible suc­cessor last Fri­day.

That’s not to say Alex­is Colon may be the next may­or of Phil­adelphia. After all, the next may­or­al elec­tion won’t oc­cur un­til 2015. And Colon is only 17 years old, any­way. But if the Little Flower High School ju­ni­or stays on track, she’s bound to achieve a lofty of­fice someday.

“You have to be 25 to run (for may­or), so I look for­ward to see­ing her in the 2023 race,” Nut­ter said dur­ing open­ing ce­re­mon­ies of the 44th an­nu­al PAL Day at City Hall.

Colon, of Tioga, has been par­ti­cip­at­ing in the Har­rowg­ate Po­lice Ath­let­ic League for nine years, in­clud­ing its home­work, golf, com­puter and Pos­it­ive Im­ages for Girls pro­grams. She and about two dozen oth­er highly ac­com­plished PAL teens from throughout the city spent Fri­day shad­ow­ing high-rank­ing city of­fi­cials in the work­place, learn­ing some of the in­ner-work­ings of city gov­ern­ment.

Colon was the hon­or­ary may­or, while an­oth­er Little Flower stu­dent, Aleena Bu­janowski of Port Rich­mond and Rizzo PAL, served as hon­or­ary De­part­ment of Hu­man Ser­vices com­mis­sion­er.

Wil­li­am Lom­bardo (North­east High, Gib­bons PAL) was Park­ing Au­thor­ity ex­ec­ut­ive dir­ect­or, while Johnay Wash­ing­ton (Wash­ing­ton High, Ox­ford Circle PAL) was fin­ance dir­ect­or. Lor­raine Curry (Lin­coln High, Ta­cony PAL) was po­lice com­mis­sion­er, with Chris­toph­er Wood (Fath­er Judge, Wissi­nom­ing PAL) as fire com­mis­sion­er.

“Mo­tiv­ated, civic-minded stu­dents like the young people here today rep­res­ent Phil­adelphia’s best and bright­est,” Nut­ter said, ad­dress­ing the youths. “I’m look­ing for­ward to you lead­ing the way for your class­mates both in­side and out­side the classroom.”

Colon said she was “raised in a home of pub­lic ser­vice” with her fath­er serving as a po­lice High­way Patrol of­ficer and her moth­er an aide to City Coun­cil­wo­man Maria Quinones-Sanc­hez. Colon also cred­ited the ment­or­ing of Har­rowg­ate PAL Of­ficer Frank Rivera for lead­ing her on the right path.

“Pos­it­ive role mod­els are crit­ic­al for help­ing young people real­ize their dreams. We need more of­ficers like Frank,” Colon said.

“The fu­ture is for all of you,” said Po­lice Com­mis­sion­er Charles Ram­sey, whose de­part­ment ad­min­is­ters the PAL pro­gram. “All you have to do is stay in school, get an edu­ca­tion and nev­er let any­body tell you what you can’t do.”

Lock­heed Mar­tin spon­sors the an­nu­al pro­gram.

“Our fu­ture is really bright in the hands of Alex­is and the oth­er PAL stu­dents we have here today,” said Gerry Fas­ano, the com­pany’s vice pres­id­ent of strategy and busi­ness de­vel­op­ment. “These young people not only stay in school, work hard and help oth­ers, they strive to do more.”

The PAL Day pro­gram is more than a ce­re­mony; it’s also hands-on ex­per­i­ence for the se­lec­ted stu­dents. Tyreek Stotts, 18, lives in Ger­man­town and par­ti­cip­ates in Pa­ley PAL, but he got an op­por­tun­ity to vis­it the North­east with Pris­ons Com­mis­sion­er Louis Giorla, a Ta­cony nat­ive.

“I want to see how the pris­on looks from the in­side. I’ve nev­er been there,” said Stotts, who plans to study nurs­ing at Com­munity Col­lege.

“I’ve had the op­por­tun­ity to meet some really ac­com­plished young people who are fo­cused and ded­ic­ated to serving the com­munity,” said Giorla, who has ment­ored PAL teens for five years. “I have a num­ber of things I want to at­tend and I want him to at­tend. It’s not an of­fice en­vir­on­ment. We’ll be in the jail.”

For Wash­ing­ton, a 16-year-old as­pir­ing fash­ion de­sign­er and per­form­ing artist, the day was destined to be more bur­eau­crat­ic but no less ex­cit­ing. Her ment­or, Fin­ance Dir­ect­or Rob Dubow, con­trols the City Hall purse strings.

“May­or Nut­ter just asked me for money. I told him I’ll get back to him,” Wash­ing­ton joked.

Curry de­scribed her­self as a shy per­son and she’s con­sid­er­ing a ca­reer in theat­er, al­though forensic sci­ence also in­terests her. She was go­ing to see plenty of forensics as Ram­sey’s shad­ow for the day. Ac­cord­ing to the po­lice com­mis­sion­er, stu­dents usu­ally en­joy vis­it­ing the crime lab in ad­di­tion to the po­lice ra­dio room and the de­part­ment’s new real-time crime cen­ter.

“It’s a good day to in­ter­act one-on-one with PAL kids,” Ram­sey said. ••

You can reach at wkenny@bsmphilly.com.

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