Kenmore West Senior High School

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For schools of a similar name, see West High School (disambiguation).
Kenmore West Senior High School
33 Highland Parkway
Tonawanda, New York, 14223
United States
Coordinates 42°58′26″N 78°51′51″W / 42.9738°N 78.8643°W / 42.9738; -78.8643Coordinates: 42°58′26″N 78°51′51″W / 42.9738°N 78.8643°W / 42.9738; -78.8643
Type Public
Established 1939
School district Kenmore-Town of Tonawanda School District
Principal Dean Johnson
Grades 9–12
Enrollment 1550
Color(s) Royal Blue and White
Mascot Blue Devil

Kenmore West Senior High School is one of two public high schools in the Kenmore-Town of Tonawanda School District. The other is Kenmore East Senior High School. Both are located in the Town of Tonawanda, New York and named after the nearby Village of Kenmore.


In 1938, a WPA grant of about $700,000 was received from the federal government toward the creation of a separate building for the senior high school on Highland Parkway, and the school district provided over $1M in additional funds. The 20-acre (81,000 m2) plot on which the school is situated cost $35,000. The school opened in the fall of 1939 with fifty faculty members and 1,250 pupils. In 1959, Kenmore East High School was opened as the district continued to grow. At that time, the Highland Parkway school officially became Kenmore West High School. Raymond S. Frazier was appointed to the position of principal of Kenmore West in 1952.[1]

The community continued to grow in the subsequent years, requiring a classroom addition to the west wing of school in 1967–68. The latest building project was the construction of the new library information center on the west lawn, and the athletic complex east of the original gymnasium. Voters narrowly approved funding for the projects in 1997. The additions were planned by Buffalo architects Duscherer Oberst Design, and completed at a cost of about $10M in the fall of 2000. The design for the library won an award for educational architecture in the summer of 2001.

Another notable architectural change to the building occurred after a fire in the cafeteria bay, causing a several month relocation of the student's cafeteria to the 'Old Gym' while a new cafeteria was erected, finally opening to a very appreciative student body.

Kenmore West's enrollment grew steadily through about 1970, and reached its peak in 1969 with over 3000 students in grades 10, 11 and 12. Alan MacGamwell, a 1944 graduate of the school, was appointed its third principal in 1971, after serving as a teacher, coach and assistant principal in the Ken-Ton Schools. In that era, the school boasted large numbers of National Merit Scholarship winners. The varsity football team under coach Jules Yakapovich won the national championship in 1969.

MacGamwell retired in 1980 and served the Ken-Ton District on the Board of Education. Another Kenmore graduate, Charles Kristich, class of 1955, succeeded him as principal that year. Douglas H. Smith became Principal in December 1994, and led the 9–12 school building until December 2005. Mrs. Karen Geelan, former Assistant Principal in the West Seneca School district, was hired as the Principal of grades 9 and 10, and Smith would continue to lead grades 11 and 12. In 2007, Geelan became Lead Principal of the building under Smith's tutelage until he transferred to Benjamin Franklin Middle School in 2008 where he was Principal until his retirement in 2010. Geelan then went on to earn her educational doctorate and leave Kenmore West in June 2011 to become the Superintendent of Allegheny Limestone Central Schools. Her successor is former Kenmore West Assistant Principal (2008–2011) Dean R. Johnson. Johnson is assisted by Chris Ginestre and Michelle Jaros.[citation needed]

The Kenmore community, like the rest of western New York, lost population between 1970 and 1990. West's enrollment dipped to a low of under 1,400 students in the early 1990s, and many teachers were laid off. Despite the loss of population, however, Kenmore West continued to be recognized for its achievements.[citation needed] The Ken-Ton population continues to drop, and teachers and support staff continue to be laid off as the district economic climate changes.


In 2013, Kenmore West Senior High School was ranked 74th out of 135 Western New York high schools in terms of academic performance.[2]

In January 2011, Kenmore West was designated as an International Baccalaureate (IB) School. They are the second public school in Western New York with this distinction. Only two schools in the area are International Baccalaureate recognized schools (City Honors is the other).[citation needed]

Notable alumni[edit]

The only district-authorized alumni group is the Kenmore West Alumni Association. The Kenmore West Alumni Foundation, Inc., is a 501(c)(3) tax-deductible organization that provides thousands of dollars in scholarships to graduating seniors each year.[6]

School colors and mascot[edit]

The school's colors are royal blue and white, and the mascot is the Blue Devil. There are many different images used for the Blue Devil all throughout the school, and most have been designed by students. In recent years, the old mascot costume was replaced by a newer, more 'pumped-up' Blue Devil costume.

The arts[edit]

Kenmore West has a theatre program. In recent years they have performed such shows as Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream", Mary Zimmerman's "Metamorphoses", Shirley Lauro's "A Piece of My Heart", Thoroughly Modern Millie, Titanic the Musical,Dirty Rotten Scoundrels , Beauty and the Beast and Sweeney Todd.


The Blue Devils compete in the Niagara Frontier League (NFL) in most sports. Exceptions include the football team which competes in the Class AA North division and the gymnastics team which competes in ECIC Division I. The school's sports teams have produced numerous championships throughout the school's 60-year history. The Blue Devils have a fierce cross-town rivalry with Kenmore East. Sports offered are:

  • baseball
  • boys' basketball
  • girls' basketball
  • cross country
  • field hockey
  • football
  • golf
  • gymnastics
  • boys' ice hockey
  • indoor track
  • rugby
  • boys' soccer
  • girls' soccer
  • softball
  • girls' swimming
  • boys' tennis
  • girls' tennis
  • track and field
  • boys' volleyball
  • girls' volleyball
  • wrestling


Further reading[edit]

  • Silsby, Robert W. (1997). Settlement to Suburb: A History of the Town of Tonawanda. Sterling C. Sommer, Inc. 
  • Percy, John W. (1997). Images of America: The Town of Tonawanda. Arcadia Press. 
  • Milner, John (1995). Schoolbook: A Teacher's Memoir.