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GRADUATING

from high school has always been important, but life teaches its own lessons -- and it's good that society respects such learning, too. That is how a McKeesport man, Leo Puma, 88, finally got his high school diploma. As reported by the Post- Gazette's Timothy McNulty, Mr. Puma, originally from Lorain, Ohio, left school at 17 to join the Navy in part to spare his struggling family the burden of coming up with $9 for the clothes he needed for graduation. He spent four years in the Navy as a machinist and was part of the 1945 invasion of Okinawa. After the war, he joined the American Bridge Co. and became a leader with Ironworkers Local 3 and the Pittsburgh building trades council. Yet his lack of a diploma was a regret. With the help of his daughter, Lisa Puma, of Alexandria, Va., the Ohio school gave him credit for his military service and awarded him a high school diploma -- as did McKeesport Area High School. One lesson that life teaches is perseverance.

A PITT STUDENT learned an important lesson last week: Don't play the fool when dressed in a Spider-Man costume. On Sept. 20, Jonathan Hewson, 21, was charged with trying to steal from an Oakland convenience store. The store clerk, Bob Patel, told police that a man dressed as Spider-Man, later identified as Mr. Hewson, came into the store and asked, "How much money you got." Thinking that he was being robbed, the clerk tried to use a stun gun, but the man, who was unarmed, ran out of the store empty-handed. Mr. Hewson was arrested in costume a short time later. On Tuesday, however, Mr. Patel told a district judge that he didn't want to testify against the student and prosecutors dropped the charge. Mr. Hewson's attorney said the incident had been a misunderstanding -- his client was wearing the costume as a prank. In short, the super-hero was being a super-goof. We trust the appropriate lesson has been learned.

THE BIG STORY of the week was the Pittsburgh Pirates, who on Tuesday beat the Cincinnati Reds in the city's first baseball playoff game in 21 years and advanced to a best-of-five series with the Cardinals. After splitting two games in St. Louis, the Pirates are back home. If today's game at PNC Park has the same crowd passion and electricity as Tuesday's, then the Pirates will have them all the way. Talk about home-field advantage: It was as if every frustration of the last two decades had given the Pirates players extraordinary strength. Did we say that perseverance is rewarded? Go, Bucs!

opinion_editorials


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