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Prince Charles Charms Students With PM-Remaking Cities, Bjt

March 5, 1988

PITTSBURGH (AP) _ Prince Charles’ relaxed, affable manner charmed students in a high school computer class, who said chatting with the future king of Britain was ″like talking to a friend.″

″He was down to earth. He treated us just like regular people,″ said John Hermansderfer, a student at Steel Valley High School in Munhall who met the prince Friday during Charles’ tour of the hard-hit Monongahela River Valley.

The prince, an advocate of inner-city rehabilitation, was in Pittsburgh to serve as honorary chairman of the Remaking Cities Conference of U.S. and British architects.

Hermansderfer said he had been on pins and needles for weeks and classmate Kim Volkay, 18, said she hadn’t been able to sleep anticipating the Prince of Wales’ visit.

″It’s harder talking to the principal of the school than to the future king of England,″ marveled Volkay. ″It’s like talking to a friend when I was talking to him.″

Charles spent about 15 minutes with the youngsters, who demonstrated the school’s Office of the Future for training students to use computers in a variety of fields, including art, journalism, and management.

Many parents of Steel Valley students worked at now-idle steel mills lining the Monongahela.

Steel mill jobs are ″not an option for our kids here any more,″ said Steel Valley Superintendent R. Gerard Longo. ″They have to explore other options.″

At Bishop Boyle Center, a former high school converted into a job center for the unemployed, the prince was greeted by about 50 urban planners, local officials and college and high school students.

He asked some students whether their parents were unemployed and how they were making ends meet.

″He said it must be hard, the change and everything,″ said Mike McGhen, 16, a junior whose father is unemployed.

Homestead businessman George DeBolt, who accompanied Charles on his tour, said the prince was given a good view of the area’s problems as he was driven past closed steel mills.

″He said, ’You’ve got a lot of work here,‴ DeBolt said.

The prince’s visit ″put a spark into the whole valley,″said Homestead Mayor Steve Simko.

″Everybody’s finally starting to listen - yes, we should revitalize the mill towns, we should open up the roads to the rivers, make the streets like they were before the steel mills were here,″ Simko said. ″His visit wakes people up. And he’s interested, because Britain has the same problems we do.″

The visit to the valley was in stark contrast to Pittsburgh and his lunch at the posh Duquesne Club with corporate and government officials. The menu included smoked fish, lamb and kidney pie and red pepper pancakes with caviar.

Mayor Richard Caliguiri tried to show off the city’s glittering skyline from an obervation deck on Mount Washington, a cliff about 400 feet above the Monongahela River. But heavy snow obscured the view of downtown.

Before returning to his Rolls-Royce limousine, Charles crossed the street to shake hands with several of the hundred or so people who waited hours for a look at royalty.

″My feet are numb. My hands are numb. But it’s worth it,″ said Rachel Price, 20, of suburban Mount Lebanon. ″He was so close to me. He’s so handsome. I’m on top of the world.″

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