January 13, 2002 11:00 pm

Proving that common sense solutions dont always hinge on dollars and cents, the La Grande Middle School is starting a mentoring program for boys. Adult male volunteers will help boys with their school work, not just the three Rs but with such things as metal and wood shop projects. The mentors and students will join forces in recreation, too, with such activities as group bowling nights. After all, all work and no play makes a boy and his mentor dull.

There are many ways to work for the betterment of the community. Becoming a positive role model is one of them. The task is important. When the program works as it is intended, boys will gain confidence, a key element for their success. Whats more, the mentors are there to encourage and applaud each little and big success. Many times this encouragement or acknowledgement of success someone noting, Hey, youve got a lot of potential ... in writing, political science, engineering, whatever can launch a young person toward achieving their potential.

Sure, Men Encouraging Natural Transitions of Readiness (MENTOR), the name of the new program at the middle school, is a mouthful. But dont let the big name stop you. At its roots, the program is more than feel-good chatter. The male volunteers will give families a boost in raising better men of the future.

Fifteen mentors are needed now, at this critical juncture in the boys lives. To apply for this opportunity to build community, call 663-3420 and request an application packet. A man can make a positive difference in the life of a boy.

Apology unnecessary

Portland State University students, concerned that the reputation of their school has been soiled, have asked U.S. Sen. Gordon Smith to apologize for a remark he made to The Oregonian. He shouldnt feel obligated.

Smith explained that he had been asked by the Portland newspaper if he had seen information alleging a connection between people who might have attended PSU and supporters of terrorist activities. The Portland State students said Smiths comment suggested the senator was saying that terrorists had raised money at their school.

By this answer, I did not suggest that Portland State University had any knowledge of or any complicity in any alleged wrongdoing. I know that is not the case and everybody else should know it as well, Smith said in a letter to PSU President Dan Bernstine.

Smith should apologize, and set the record straight, if it turns out the statement he made to The Oregonian was wrong. Short of that, Smiths clarification to Bernstine is all thats needed. No apology is necessary.