Month: October 2013

Lights, Camera, Holidays: Where to See Philadelphia All Aglow

Franklin Square & RiverRink Sparkle With New Holiday Light Displays This YearrnrnPHILADELPHIA, Oct. 29, 2013 /PRNewswire/ –Dark winter nights turn glittery and bright with holiday lights that shimmer and shine all across Philadelphia and The Countryside®. With new displays at Franklin Square and the Blue Cross RiverRink, the season takes on a magical glow as a number of local attractions and neighborhoods pump up the power and light up the skies with sparkling colors and elaborate light displays like these shining examples:rn(Photo: )rnBright Lights, Big City:rnThe holiday magic at Ben Franklin’s namesake park begins with the new Franklin Square’s Electrical Spectacle: A Holiday Light Show, featuring a 10-foot-tall kite made of lights that sparkle and spread the glow to lights throughout the square. The show runs every 30 minutes between 4:30 and 8:00 p.m., weather permitting. November 14-December 31, with the exception of Thanksgiving and Christmas. 6th & Race Streets, (215) 629-4026, historicphiladelphia.orgrnIt’s year six for Philadelphia’s high-tech holiday show, The Comcast Holiday Spectacular, shown on The Comcast Experience video wall, one of the world’s highest-resolution LED (light-emitting diode) displays, in the lobby of the 58-story Comcast Center. Set to the music of a 64-piece orchestra, this year’s show includes new scenes featuring Olympic-caliber ice skaters and performers from the Walnut Street Theatre. The free 15-minute show occurs at the top of the hour, 10:00 a.m.-8:00 p.m. (except 5:00 p.m. on weekdays). November 28-January 1. 17th Street & John F. Kennedy Boulevard, new for the Blue Cross RiverRink’s 20th-anniversary season at Penn’s Landing, Bright Lights, Big Santa introduces a festive mash-up of color, lights, hip-hop beats and dancing elves that all come together in 3-D light show accompanied by holiday music. Part of the Waterfront Winterfest—complete with pine trees, fire pits, a heated pop-up restaurant, craft market and other activities—the light show runs every hour between 5:00-11:00 p.m. November 29-January 5. Columbus Boulevard & Market Street, (215) 925-RINK, riverrink.comrnA Philadelphia tradition since 1956, the Christmas Light Show at Macy’s in Center City illuminates a large wall inside the Wanamaker building, a National Historic Landmark, with almost 100,000 LED lights and finishes with sounds from the Wanamaker Organ. Performances take place at the top of the hour, November 29-December 31. 1300 Market Street, (215) 241-9000, wanamakerorgan.comrnSet amid the evergreens, Morris Arboretum’s Holiday Garden Railway showcases a miniature winter wonderland complete with a quarter-mile of model-train track; seven loops and tunnels; 15 different rail lines; cable cars, bridges and model trains that cruise past scaled replicas of historic monuments; and Philadelphia-area landmarks adorned with thousands of twinkling lights for the holidays. New this year: Friday Night Lights, providing evening viewings on select nights. November 22-January 5 (closed December 24-25, January 1). 100 E. Northwestern Avenue, (215) 247-5777, morrisarboretum.orgrnThe Independence Seaport Museum hosts the fourth-annual Parade of Lights. Indoors, participants visit with Santa and join in candy-making demos before moving outdoors to watch lighted and decorated tugboats and other vessels float along the Delaware River. rnDecember 14. 211 S. Columbus Boulevard, (215) 413-8655, phillyseaport.orgrnLocals have long known that the place to go for a boost of holiday spirit is South Philadelphia, a traditionally Italian enclave where the combination of civic pride and neighborhood camaraderie come together to create eye-popping homegrown lighting displays. Colorado and Smedley Streets are particular favorites for an instant jolt of seasonal spirit.rnCountryside Aglow:rnEach evening, beginning with the Grand Illumination, Peddler’s Village shimmers in the warm glow of one million jewel-colored twinkling lights and holiday greenery. From the treetops to the Colonial-style buildings to the quaint shops, the whole landscape sparkles and glows—making it the perfect setting for sipping cider, toasting marshmallows, holiday shopping, visiting Santa and more. November 22-January 5. Routes 202 & 263, Lahaska, (215) 794-4000, peddlersvillage.comrnThe holidays go red, white and green at Longwood Gardens during A Longwood Gardens Christmas, featuring 500,000 glowing lights, thousands of poinsettias, vibrantly decorated trees and dancing fountains throughout the vast grounds and conservatory. November 28-January 12. 1001 Longwood Road, Kennett Square, (610) 388-1000, longwoodgardens.orgrnThe Greater Philadelphia Tourism Marketing Corporation (GPTMC) makes Philadelphia and The Countryside® a premier destination through marketing and image building that increases business and promotes the region’s vitality.rnFor more information about travel to Philadelphia, visit or, where you can build itineraries; search event calendars; see photos and videos; view interactive maps; sign up for newsletters; listen to HearPhilly, an online radio station about what to see and do in the region; book hotel reservations and more. Or, call the Independence Visitor Center, located in Historic Philadelphia, at (800) 537-7676.rnNote to Editors: For high-resolution photos of Greater Philadelphia, visit the photo gallery of Greater Philadelphia Tourism Marketing CorporationrnrnrnRELATED LINKSrn

Mayor Nutter Signs Executive Order; Legislation Introduced to Help ‘Returning Citizens’

October 24, 2013– Mayor Michael A. Nutter asked Councilman W. Wilson Goode, Jr. to introduce on behalf of the Administration an ordinance amending The Philadelphia Code by replacing the term “ex-offender” with the term “returning citizen”. Mayor Nutter also signed an Executive Order re-naming the Office of Re-integration Services for Ex-Offenders (R.I.S.E.) to simply, the Office of Re-integration Services (R.I.S.E.) in order to comply with the ordinance.rn rn“Every year, thousands of citizens are released from federal, state and local correctional facilities and return to their families and friends in Philadelphia. Their successful re-integration into our communities is often hindered by challenges like a lack of education or job-training, limited opportunities for employment, and having a criminal record. These challenges contribute to high recidivism rates, which also mean decreased safety for our citizens and increased costs for the City for police and prison services,” said Mayor Nutter. “The City of Philadelphia has already taken steps to ease the transition of returning citizens, including Ban-the-Box legislation for employers operating in the City and expanding services offered at R.I.S.E. But, it is also important that we re-examine how we refer to these people. The commonly used term ‘ex-offender’ carries with it a stigma which may increase the challenges these citizens face, while the term “returning citizen” more appropriately focuses on their engagement in the process of reintegration. As a government, the City of Philadelphia must do what it can to help their transition.”rn rnUnder the ordinance and the Executive Order, R.I.S.E. will continue its mission to promote safer communities and reduce law enforcement costs by assisting returning citizens to be constructive individuals who contribute positively to their communities. R.I.S.E. partners with businesses, faith & community organizations, and job-training providers to offer job placement services, life skills training, and literacy education to returning citizens.rn rn“This legislation is important in changing the general public’s perception of people who have served their time, paid their debt to society, and want to re-enter our City’s communities as hard-working, productive members,” said Councilman Goode. “I applaud Mayor Nutter, Deputy Mayor Gillison, and the men and women at the newly re-named Mayor’s Office of Re-Integration Services (R.I.S.E.) for their dedicated service to our city’s returning citizens, and for bringing attention to this important issue. It was truly my pleasure to sponsor this legislation, and I look forward to continuing to work with the Administration to serve this group.”rn rnThe Executive Order defines a ‘returning citizen’ as an individual who has recently been released from a federal, state or local correctional facility, or a person who, while not recently incarcerated, has a criminal record or history. Under the Executive Order, the policy of the City of Philadelphia is to use the term ‘returning citizen’ on any official or unofficial communication, document, or other written material to describe such persons.

Department of Revenue Urges Low-Income Seniors to Apply for the Real Estate Tax “Senior Freeze” Program

October 23, 2013– The Philadelphia Department of Revenue is encouraging low income senior citizens to apply now for the Low Income Senior Citizen Real Estate Freeze program. Under the program, the City will “freeze” the applicant’s real estate tax for the calendar year in which the taxes are due. Once approved, if the homeowner’s property assessment or the tax rate changes, their taxes will not increase. If the tax liability decreases (either due to a rate decrease or a lower assessment), the tax due will be lowered to the new amount.rn rnTo qualify for the program, applicants (or the applicant’s spouse who lives in the same household) must be 65 years or older; or 50 years old and the widow or widower of someone who was at least 65 years old at their time of death. In addition, the total annual household income must be $23,500 or less for a single person; $31,500 or less for a married couple.rn rnEach applicant should provide proof of household income, age, the location of the property and the tax bill or receipt for the real estate taxes owed. Only one taxpayer per household will be entitled to the tax forgiveness. Once approved, homeowners do not have to apply again.rn rn“In these hard economic times it is becoming increasingly difficult for some of our residents to pay the required real estate taxes that are due each year,” said Commissioner Clarena Tolson of the City’s Revenue Department. “This tax forgiveness program will help ease that responsibility for many of our senior citizen homeowners.”rn rnApplications can be obtained by visiting the Revenue Department website at or by calling 215-686-6442.The Low-Income Senior Citizen Real Estate Tax Freeze is one of several tax assistance programs available to Philadelphia residents. For more information visit the website at or call 215-686-6442.

Shmoop and Philadelphia’s Northeast High School Release New AP Results, Prove Technology and Teachers Can Close Achievement Gap

Innovative teachers and AP® coordinators used Shmoop as part of program to improve AP enrollment, saw college eligible test scores shoot up 3x with 10% increase in college matriculation.rnrnnnPhiladelphia, PA (PRWEB) October 22, 2013nnDespite recent news of the budget woes plaguing the school district of Philadelphia, a bright spot has been the success stories coming out of Northeast High School, located in one of the lowest income areas of the city. As part of a rigorous Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate program overhaul that began in the 2010 – 2011 school year, Northeast High School incorporated Shmoop, one of the world’s largest digital publishers of test prep materials and educational guides, and saw the number of college eligible AP scores (3+) triple in three years.nnrnnn“Can a comprehensive high school with a largely low-income student body significantly increase college eligibility scores while maintaining enrollment numbers? Yes. In three years, that is exactly what Northeast High School has done,” says Ellen Siminoff, CEO and President of Shmoop. “The effective use of technology in classrooms should mean that companies like us make it easier for passionate teachers to do their jobs.”nnrnnnNortheast High School students were given access Shmoop’s full suite of 30+ AP® rnnnguides to use as a resource to supplement the instruction they were getting in the classroom. In addition, the teachers and AP coordinators created a myriad of academic and extracurricular programs to motivate students to enroll in AP and IB classes. These programs included Saturday practice sessions, summer programs, awards assemblies, subsidized exam fees, and extra instruction and support in classrooms from staff and faculty members. As a result, Northeast High’s AP results soared. In 2007, before the programs were implemented, the school had no AP scholars and only ~10% had a score of ‘3’ or better. In contrast, after the implementation of Shmoop and the extra programs, Northeast High had 22 AP Scholars and saw more than one out of every three AP-test-taking students (36.1%) score a ‘3’ and above in the 2012 – 2013 school year. The college matriculation rate also jumped to 63% versus 53% in 2010, with 133 students earning college credit on 177 AP exams.nnrnnnAlthough Shmoop and the programs helped increase student retention rates and the number of students matriculating into college, the school was hit hard by the Philadelphia School District’s budget cuts.nnrnnn“We have been sustaining the quality of these programs despite the annual budgets cuts that have occurred in the last four years, but this year, the conditions are worse, much worse than they have ever been,” says a public letter from Northeast High School teachers requesting more AP funding. “This year, we are at the point of ensuring that these programs still exist, not working to improve them.”nnrnnnAP® is a trademark registered and/or owned by the College Board, which was not involved in the production of, and does not endorse, this product.nnrnnnAbout ShmooprnnnShmoop is a digital curriculum and test prep company that makes fun, rigorous learning and teaching materials. Shmoop content is written by master teachers and Ph.D. students from Stanford, Harvard, UC Berkeley, and other top universities. Shmoop Learning Guides, Test Prep, and Teacher’s Editions balance a teen-friendly, approachable style with academically rigorous materials to help teachers help students understand how subjects relate to their daily lives. Shmoop sees over 7 million unique visitors a month on its site, and offers more than 7,000 titles across the Web, iPhone, Android devices, iPad, Kindle, Nook, and Sony Reader. The company has been honored twice by the Webby Awards, named “Best in Tech” for 2010 and 2011 by Scholastic Administrator, and awarded with two Annual Education Software Review Awards (EDDIES) in 2013. Launched in 2008, Shmoop is headquartered in a labradoodle-patrolled office in Mountain View, California.nnrnnn*SAT and AP are registered trademarks of the College Board, which was not involved in the production of and does not endorse this product.nnrnnn*ACT is a federally registered trademark of ACT, Inc. Shmoop University is not affiliated with or endorsed by ACT, Inc.

City of Philadelphia to Co-Host Free Adult College Fair on October 25th

Philadelphia, October 21, 2013– The City of Philadelphia, and its partners, will co-host a free college fair on Friday, October 25th to assist and encourage adult learners to enroll and complete post-secondary learning programs. The college fair will be held in the lower mezzanine of the SEPTA Building, 1234 Market Street from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m.rnrn rnrn“In the 21st century economy, a high school diploma is not enough. Our Administration is committed to building a high-skilled, well-educated workforce by promoting post-secondary education options,” said Mayor Nutter. “The Free Adult College Fair is an opportunity for adults looking to return to the learning community to begin the process and for City of Philadelphia employees to learn more about the Returning to Learning Partnership.”rnrn rnrnThe other partner agencies co-hosting the fair will provide valuable information and hands-on assistance:rnrnThe City of Philadelphia’s Returning to Learning Partnership will encourage city employees and their dependents to access tuition discounts at local colleges;rnPhillyGoes2College will offer assistance to individuals on how to apply to college and how to pay for college;rnGraduate! Philadelphia will offer on-the-spot advicernClarifi and PHEAA will offer financial counseling;rnVeterans Upward Bound and the Philadelphia Veterans Resource Center will help veterans access GI Bill benefits and answer other questions; andrnCareerLink North will provide job seeking tips.rn rnrn“Nearly 60 percent of a city’s economic health comes from having a college-educated talent pool,” said Hadass Sheffer, President of Graduate! “Getting them back on the path to earn that degree is a priority for us. Graduate! Philadelphia knows how to help adults get back to and through college—we emphasize finishing the degree, this time around. We’ve helped more than 2,000 people so far, but we know there are more people who can benefit from some help, which is why we are holding this free college fair on October 25th.”rnrnNineteen area colleges and universities will participate in the college fair, including offering individuals the opportunity to talk to college advisors and waiving application fees. Participating schools are: Chestnut Hill College; Community College of Philadelphia; DeVry University; Drexel University Online; East Stroudsburg University; Eastern University; Immaculata University; LaSalle University; Neumann University; Peirce College; Penn State World Campus; Philadelphia University; Rosemont College; Rowan University; Saint Joseph’s University; Temple University; Thomas Edison State College; University of the Sciences; and Widener University.rnrn rnrnFor more information, log on to rnrnThe Returning to Learning Partnership Program is a tuition discount program for City employees (and sometimes spouses and dependents) in partnership with area colleges and universities. Discounts are available for associates, bachelors and master level programs. The purpose of the program is to help City employees reach their postsecondary education goals.rnrn rnrnGraduate! Philadelphia has helped more than 2,000 adults go back to college since 2008, including supporting 500 adult learners who have already graduated. The program focuses on intensive preparation and persistence supports, offers a range of adult-friendly college options among its partner colleges, and harnesses the determination and hard work of its students.