Lower Merion High School

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Lower Merion High School
Lower Merion High School - New Building.jpeg
Enter to Learn, Go Forth to Serve
Address
245 North Montgomery Avenue
Ardmore, Pennsylvania, 19003
United States
Information
Type Public high school
Established 1894
School district Lower Merion School District
Principal Sean Hughes
Faculty 107.7 FTE
Enrollment 1,378
Nickname Aces
Website

Lower Merion High School is a public high school in Ardmore, a community in Philadelphia's Main Line suburbs. It is one of two high schools in the Lower Merion School District; the other one is Harriton High School. Lower Merion serves both Lower Merion Township and the Borough of Narberth. In 2005 it was ranked among the top sixty public or private U. S. high schools by The Wall Street Journal. In 2010, 1,378 students attended the school. Its athletics teams are known as the "Aces," but the football team is called the "Bulldogs".

History[edit]

Lower Merion High School, Old Building

In 1894, with the consolidation of the area's three village high schools (Merion Square, Bryn Mawr, and Ardmore), Lower Merion began its first year in a stone building shared with the Ardmore Avenue Elementary School in Ardmore (photo). In 1897, nine students participated in the school's first commencement ceremony. The original high school faculty had seven members, including the principal and superintendent. The curriculum offered only a two-year preparation for either college or industry.

The Ardmore Avenue School burned in 1900 but was rebuilt, also of stone (photo). In 1911, the high school moved out of the elementary school to new quarters, designed and constructed at the present site, 245 E. Montgomery Avenue. Dedicated on December 2, 1911, "Lower Merion Senior High School" was an impressive granite and stone edifice considered one of the finest new educational facilities in the state. The 17-acre (69,000 m2) property, complete with three stone-arch entrances, landscaped grounds, and a football stadium, eventually grew to 23 acres (93,000 m2) with the purchase and annexation of the Clarke House. At its opening, twenty-one staff members were employed under principal "Professor" Charles B. Pennypacker. (photo)

In 1922, Ardmore Junior High School was constructed adjacent to the senior high school, and in 1926 two new wings were added on either side of the main high school building. These additions doubled the size of the original school, helping to accommodate rapidly increasing enrollment. The present administration building was constructed in 1932 to provide office space and an additional twenty-five classrooms. By 1940, the teaching staff had expanded to 61 under the direction of principal George H. Gilbert. Total student enrollment was 1461 for grades 10–12.

In 1943 an adjoining "technical" building was added along the School House Lane side to house shops for auto repair, metal, print, wood-working and drafting (photo). In 1950, a cafeteria/library wing (photo), designed by the Philadelphia firm of Savory, Scheetz and Gilmour, was added near Pennypacker athletic field. That same year the 18-acre (73,000 m2) General Henry Harley "Hap" Arnold athletic fields opened directly across Montgomery Ave. By 1957, enrollment had grown to 1,663 students and the time had come to build a second high school (Harriton) in Lower Merion Township. The original 1910 building was demolished in 1963 and replaced by an air-conditioned classroom structure designed by H. A. Kuljian and Co.

Due to enrollment increases and to accommodate changing program needs, the District frequently reconfigured spaces in the facility, including re-opening classroom and storage space in the former Ardmore Junior High School in the 1990s. (Most of the junior high school had been demolished in 1992 to make way for additional parking). Rooms in the technical building were converted to other uses, including art classes, computer labs, and the school's television studio. Original classrooms were re-purposed as spaces for individualized learning support and students with special needs. The central lobby that connected the 1932 and 1963 structures was converted to a college-style help center in 2004.

In 2004, a community advisory committee determined that existing facilities no longer met the standards of the Lower Merion community and recommended that a new school, configured for 21st century education, be constructed on the same site. The Board and administration authorized construction of this new school in 2007. Demolition of the "Ardmore Annex", the natatorium, and one of the school's two gyms commenced in the summer of 2008 to make way for construction. The new Lower Merion High School opened in September 2010 and was dedicated in a public ceremony on October 17, 2010. In addition to state-of-the-art classrooms, science laboratories, art classrooms, and music rehearsal spaces, the new Lower Merion features a lecture hall with tiered seating, a multi-purpose black box theater, an 850-seat auditorium/theater, a greenhouse for environmental and horticultural studies, high-performance athletic facilities, a swimming pool, a television studio, multi-media production facilities, a music technology lab, an expansive courtyard, and a two-story, glass-encased library that serves as the building’s exterior focal point along Montgomery Avenue.

The school also features a planetarium on top of the old building that closed after it was declared a fire hazard. It was then temporarily transformed into a staff lounge room. However, the room is currently vacated.

The new school was constructed adjacent to the historic district administration office (DAO) building, which is the only “original” structure that remains on the site. A number of measures were approved by the Lower Merion Historic Commission to ensure the school was designed to complement this Class I historic resource. The placement of the new building provides an unobstructed view of the DAO from Montgomery Avenue. The color and size of the masonry used in the new building is reflective of materials of the DAO. Vertical windows and metal spandrel panels echo elements of the DAO’s façade. The scale of the building is also sympathetic to the nearby residential neighborhood. The stone engraving of Ardmore Junior High School's motto, "Enter To Learn, Go Forth To Serve," remains on the front lawn of the high school property, facing Montgomery Avenue. (photo)

Academics[edit]

Lower Merion is often listed among the top public high schools in the country and graduates many students each year into the top academic colleges in the nation. It offers programs for students with varying needs and interests, including Advanced Placement Program, honors, and college preparatory classes.

Foreign languages[edit]

Lower Merion High School offers three languages for students of all grades, Spanish, French, and Latin. Classes range in level and difficulty [College Prep (CP) to Advanced Placement (AP)]. Japanese is available to upperclassmen only.

Senior Project[edit]

The school's Senior Project program allows second-semester seniors to experience the business world while encouraging them to take on responsibility and evaluate prospective college majors. Through this program seniors are released from school in mid-May, whereas freshmen, sophomores, and juniors are released in mid-June. Seniors then spend the month working as an intern, in research, or exploring a topic of interest (not for money), and then present a slideshow/video at school for their parents, teachers, and friends.

Athletics[edit]

The Lower Merion Athletics are represented as either the Bulldogs or the Aces. Bulldogs is used for football, girls ice hockey and softball. Aces is used by all other sports.

Varsity baseball[edit]

The 2007 Lower Merion Baseball team recorded a 12–6 record, the second best in 50 years. They have only won one Central League Championship, in 2005.

Varsity basketball[edit]

The Lower Merion High School Basketball team has won seven Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association State Championships. In 1930, 1931, and 1939 Lower Merion lost the AAA championship games (then the highest level of competition). They won the AAA championship in 1933, 1941, 1942, and 1943. The Aces won the AAAA championship in 1996, 2006, and 2013; they were AAAA runner-ups in 2005 and 2012. Their most recent championship came in 2013 under Head Coach Gregg Downer (1990–).

In 1996, the Aces rode a 30-game winning streak to a District title and their first state title in 50 years, finishing the season 31-3.

In the 2004–05 season, the Aces won the Western bracket and became the lowest seed to ever reach the state finals. In 2006, Lower Merion avenged three previous losses against the Chester Clippers in a rematch at the Palestra and defeated the heavily favored Schenley High School Spartans, 60-58, in the championship game.

In 2007, despite having lost six seniors, the Aces advanced to the AAAA Quarterfinals, losing to Simon Gratz High School.

In 2013, the Aces won the 2013 PIAA State title.

The following year, despite having lost ten seniors after the previous season, the Aces once again reached the AAAA Quarterfinals, where they were defeated by La Salle College High School.

NBA superstar Kobe Bryant led Lower Merion to a State Championship before graduating in 1996, when he was drafted by the Charlotte Hornets in the 1996 NBA Draft and then traded to the Los Angeles Lakers. Bryant has won five NBA championships, is a 16-time NBA All-Star, and the 2008 NBA MVP with the Lakers. On December 16, 2010, the school held a sold-out dedication ceremony for Kobe Bryant, naming the school's new gym after their famous alumnus.

Varsity tennis[edit]

The Lower Merion Varsity Tennis Team is currently under coach David O'Connell. The Varsity Boys team won the PIAA AAA state championship in 2006 and 2007 they finished second in 2008, as recently as 2013 they made the state quarterfinals and placed second in districts. The Varsity Girls Tennis team captured the PIAA division AAA state champion title in 2005, along with the central league and district title for the past 5 years.

Boys Varsity Lacrosse[edit]

The Lower Merion Boys Varsity Lacrosse team has won seven PIAA State Championships, and have had 21 players be named All-American.

Extracurriculars[edit]

Lower Merion offers extracurricular activities, for which many students stay after school as late as 9 p.m..

Ace Harmony and Ace's Angels[edit]

Ace Harmony and Aces Angels are the two a cappella groups at Lower Merion. Both choral groups feature 16 students. Ace Harmony is a co-ed group, while Ace's Angels is all girls. They performed the entire Beatles album, Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, for their January 2007 winter concert. The manager of both groups, Joshua Hunnex, teaches in the music department at Lower Merion. He is also an accomplished singer with an extensive musical background.

buildOn[edit]

The Lower Merion chapter of buildOn, an international organization committed to enhancing education and empowering youth throughout the United States and "helping people of developing countries increase their self-reliance through education". Students meet weekly to learn about, and raise awareness for, global issues, and perform community service on the weekends and during some of the meetings. Since the Lower Merion chapter's inception in fall 2007, buildOn has grown to over 100 members and currently raises $1,200 per month to build schools in developing nations. The chapter is currently raising funds for the construction of a school in Malawi. Students from the Lower Merion chapter, along with those at other Philadelphia schools, have the opportunity to apply for the chance to help build one of the schools overseas- last year, students from the Philadelphia area traveled to Haiti, to construct a school in a rural village and have a meaningful cultural exchange. This year they are traveling to Haiti, bringing along 18 students. Meetings are held in the large group instruction room (LGI) on Wednesdays during Academic Advisory.

Culinary Arts Club[edit]

The culinary arts club (colloquially known as cooking club) is for students at Lower Merion High School who love to make food and learn about culinary history but cannot fit a cooking class into their schedule. Its club members make a wide variety of gourmet food, ranging from oatmeal raisin cookies to traditional Japanese sushi to great American soul food classics like Mac 'n Cheese. Club members also watch food-preparation demonstrations done by various teachers at Lower Merion High School as well as guests from the real culinary world. The club provides its members hands on activities in the kitchen and good life skills.

Interact[edit]

Interact is the high school extension of Rotary International. It is a community service club which has an obligation to perform at least one local and international project each year, as dictated by its international Constitution. Sponsored by the Ardmore Rotary club, LM's chapter has gone on to volunteer at senior citizens centers, paint murals through the Philadelphia Mural Arts Program, refurbish houses and parks in West Philadelphia through AchieveAbility, and has raised money for Rotary's Shelter Box program and Interact's BluePack campaign. Unfortunately, the Lower Merion chapter of Interact is no longer in existence.

Interplanetary Colonization Club[edit]

Interplanetary Colonization club is a club at Lower Merion High School that is interested in space and the human exploration, habitation, and colonization that lies there. The people of Interplanetary Colonization Club devote themselves intellectually and economically to private companies and governments that involve themselves in space. Space Elevators are cool too. Interplanetary Colonization Club is currently in the process of being approved as a club.

LM Programming Club[edit]

The LM programming club was created in the 2009–2010 school year, and is still quite incipient. They intend to learn the Scheme, C, and Ruby programming languages. They also plan to analyze such topics as computability theory, data structures, and algorithms.

LMSDtv[edit]

Was started during the 2003–04 school year at Lower Merion High School. Then senior Casey Ford Alexander ("Voice of the Aces") and junior Landon Sears produced, edited and broadcast hockey and basketball games during the fall/winter season.[1] In spring, the duo was featured in the annual "Kids to Watch" issue of Main Line Today. Alexander also contributed the channel name and upon graduation, received Lower Merion's first Varsity letter in broadcasting. A student-run after school club at Lower Merion during the 2004–05 school year. The team worked very hard against scheduling and budget issues to put together and launch a news-type show that ultimately never got very far off the ground. Then in November 2006, with the aid of district funding and teacher training, Lower Merion started broadcasting morning announcements to homerooms through its video system, instead of the traditional PA system. Although the program is no longer run by students, many in the original after- school team keep the show alive for the "Aces Update", broadcast to the student body and staff by a "Voice of the Aces".

Aces Update is currently scheduled to resume for the 2007–08 school year on December 17, 2007, after receiving a new Flash Video distribution system, similar to that of popular video sharing sites such as YouTube and Meta Cafe. This upgrade comes along with others in the studio including new computers used to edit and produce the show. This new system will bring viewers a better viewing experience, such as eliminating buffer times, better video and sound quality, and less bandwidth used.

Mock Trial Club[edit]

Lower Merion's Mock Trial Club participates in Pennsylvania's mock trial competition as a member of the Montgomery county chapter. When provided with either a civil or criminal case, the club assigns lawyer and witness roles for both sides and prepares for county competitions around February. Noted Mock Trial participants include founding president and winner of two consecutive "Best Lawyer in competition" awards Chris Perna-Elias, as well as Jonathan Eskreis-Winkler who won the "Best Lawyer in Competition" award in 2006 in a trial against Akiba Hebrew Academy.

Players[edit]

Lower Merion's theater company, Players, is one of the only student-run theater programs in the state. In this club students can choose to work on one of five different crews: Lighting/Sound, Scenery, Costumes, Acting, and Publicity. All of these crews are completely student run with coaches to oversee the crew and to offer their professional guidance. Students can also become part of PDS (Production Design Staff). PDS members are in charge of scheduling meetings, teaching their crews, designing the lights, sound, costumes, or publicity. Players puts on three shows each year, starting with a musical in the fall, a drama in the winter, and a comedy in the spring, although in the 2010 – 2011 season a fourth, student written, play was put on entitled "Blank Pages" by David Silberthau, a senior at the time. Players has two spaces in which they perform their shows, the auditorium and the black box theatre. The first show put on by Players in the new building was the musical "Urinetown", this show was held in the Black Box Theatre, the first production in the new auditorium was "Twelve Angry Jurors", in February 2011. Lower Merion Players is also a part of the International Thespian Society and is troupe 801.

Players' website can be found at www.lmplayers.com.

Student Council[edit]

The Student Council is a body elected by the Students of Lower Merion High School which serves as the liaison between students and administration in addition to running student events, fundraising, and organizing school spirit. Each advisory selects 2 representatives, and officers are selected in a School-wide election each April.

SUAVE[edit]

Originally named GUAVA (Girls United Against Violence Anywhere), SUAVE is the acronym for Students United Against Violence Everywhere. It was founded in 2002 by a group of girls (Lower Merion students Lauren Falcão, Diana Chang, Ashley Johnson, Pam Rook, and Wendy Shreiner) for a community service project. The club strives to end violence in the world through fundraising and advocating nonviolence. Each year, the club chooses a 501 (c) 3 nonprofit organization to raise money for. Past years' beneficiaries have included Campaign for Innocent Victims in Conflict, Roots of Peace, and Central Asia Institute. The gala, held in the spring of each year, serves as the club's main fundraiser. The amount of money the club makes each year is usually around $10,000.

Technology and Engineering Club[edit]

The Technology and Engineering Club was started by Technology Education teacher Mr. Piotrowski during the 2002–03 school year. The club was primarily a Technology Student Association (within the Pennsylvania TSA) chapter, and also competed in the annual mousetrap competitions at Widener University and in the JETS/TEAMS competition. The 2003–04 school year was the first year the Club attended the National TSA conference, taking home first place trophies in two events. During the 2005–06 school year, Lower Merion's FIRST Robotics team was formed, choosing the team name "Dawgma". This was formed under the supervision of English Teacher Rich Kressly, who worked with Piotrowski to make FIRST a part of the Technology and Engineering Club. During its rookie year, Dawgma competed at the Philadelphia Regional and won the Highest Rookie Seed Award and the Rookie All-Star Award. During the 2006–07 school year, Dawgma competed in the Ramp Riot competition at Wissahickon High School and the Duel on the Delaware which are both off-season competitions, as well as the Philadelphia Regional where they placed 4th overall, and won the GM Industrial Design Award. Dawgma also competed in the FIRST Robotics 2007 championship where they placed 6th overall in the Galileo Division. The Technology and Engineering Club has become the second largest club at Lower Merion, having over 100 registered members during the 2005–06 year, compared to about 10 members during the 2002–03 year.

The Dolphin[edit]

The Dolphin is Lower Merion High School's Art & Literature club. Students can send in pieces of art or writing to have them work shopped by the editors and other members when they meet after school. The Dolphin also publishes a magazine at the end of the year containing submitted works from throughout the year chosen by the editors. And on the first meeting of every month Dolphin becomes Acoustic Dolphin, where students can bring in their instruments and songs to play for the club.

The Merionite[edit]

The Merionite is the official school newspaper of Lower Merion High School. It is completely student-run, from the articles to the layout. The Merionite publishes articles by students about sports, school news, arts and entertainment, and editorials. The Merionite is distributed monthly to students, parents, teachers and subscribers. There is an estimated readership of 4,000 per issue. www.themerionite.org

Ultimate[edit]

Lower Merion Babaganouj, an open Ultimate team, was created in the 2005–2006 school year with the special efforts of Christian Vanni (Class of 2006). In their first season, Babaganouj fared well, placing 5th in the state and sending a group of players to nationals with the regional youth club team. As of May 2006, they are coached by Christina and Paul Minecci, and are now an official school club. By 2008, Babaganouj fielded three teams: the A team, the B team, coached by Rick Atkins and the girl's team (though girls play on the A and B teams as well), coached by Kathy Rowe and captained by Jenna Perna-Elias and Beah Jacobson. In 2009, 2010, and 2013 the Lower Merion girls team won the PA State HS Championships, women's division. The 2010 A team tied for 5th at the State Championships. Lower Merion now graduates high school players to the top College programs in the country, including Tufts, Carleton, Pitt, Brown, and Dartmouth.

World Affairs Club[edit]

Lower Merion's World Affairs Club has earned a spot among the nation's top discursive bodies. The club attends Model United Nations Conferences and discusses current international events and issues on a bimonthly basis.

Environmental Club[edit]

Lower Merion Environmental Club is a student led club devoted to making the school and local community a more earth friendly and conscious place, as well as helping move the school in a more eco-friendly direction.

Laptop controversy[edit]

In the 2010 WebcamGate lawsuit, plaintiffs charged that Lower Merion School District (including Lower Merion High School and Harriton High School) secretly spied on students enrolled at the two high schools by surreptitiously and remotely activating webcams embedded in school-issued laptops the students were using at home, and therefore infringed on their privacy rights. The schools admitted to secretly snapping over 66,000 webshots and screenshots. Those included webcam shots of students in their bedrooms.[2][3][4] In October 2010, the school district agreed to pay $610,000 to settle the Robbins and parallel Hasan lawsuits against it.[5]

Two parents filed the lawsuit against the school district on February 11, 2010.[6][7] The plaintiff was a student at one of the two district high schools. A federal judge issued a preliminary injunction ordering the district to stop its secret webcam monitoring, and ordered the district to pay the plaintiffs' attorney fees.[8][9][10]

In July 2010, a Lower Merion High School student filed a parallel second suit.[11] The school was also put on notice of a third parallel suit that a third student intended to bring, for "improper surveillance of the Lower Merion High School student on his school issued laptop", which included taking over 700 webcam shots and screenshots between December 2009 and February 2010.[12]

A U.S. Senate Judiciary subcommittee held hearings on the issues raised by the schools' secret surveillance, and Senator Arlen Specter introduced draft legislation in the Senate to protect against it in the future. The Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI), U.S. Attorney's Office, and Montgomery County District Attorney all initiated criminal investigations of the matter, which they combined and then closed because they did not find evidence "that would establish beyond a reasonable doubt that anyone involved had criminal intent". The civil lawsuit has a much lower burden of proof, and is unaffected by the decision. Lower Merion Police Superintendent Michael McGrath said: "This would appear to be a matter to be resolved in civil court."[13] An investigative report prepared by the law firm Ballard, Spahr LLP–the firm that the Lower Merion School District had hired to defend it–did not find evidence that the system "was used to 'spy' on students", but was unable in many instances to find who had authorized that the system take surreptitious photographs, for what reason, and to find copies of photographs that had been deleted from the school server.[3]

Notable alumni[edit]

Bryant's retired #33 jersey and banner at the Lower Merion High School gym.

Name (graduation year), significance

References[edit]

  1. ^ "School District Highlights". lmsd.org. April 5, 2004. Retrieved July 1, 2012. 
  2. ^ Doug Stanglin (February 18, 2010). "School district accused of spying on kids via laptop webcams". USA Today. Retrieved February 19, 2010. 
  3. ^ a b Report Regarding Monitoring of Student Laptop Computers by the Lower Merion School District, Ballard Spahr (LMSD's counsel), May 3, 2010. Retrieved August 15, 2010.
  4. ^ "Initial LANrev System Findings", LMSD Redacted Forensic Analysis, L-3 Services – prepared for Ballard Spahr (LMSD's counsel), May 2010. Retrieved August 15, 2010.
  5. ^ Mucha, Peter (October 12, 2010). "Lower Merion district's laptop saga ends with $610,000 settlement". Philadelphia Inquirer. Retrieved January 7, 2011. 
  6. ^ "Pennsylvania schools spying on students using laptop webcams, claims lawsuit; Class-action suit alleges schools remotely activate webcams on school-issued notebooks", Gregg Keizer, Computerworld, February 18, 2010
  7. ^ "School district accused of spying on kids via laptop webcams". USA Today. February 18, 2010. Retrieved September 14, 2010. 
  8. ^ Fitzgerald, Thomas (August 31, 2010). "Lower Merion School District ordered to pay plaintiff's lawyer $260,000". Philadelphia Inquirer. Retrieved September 14, 2010. 
  9. ^ "Judge: Lower Merion must pay attorney in laptop case". Main Line Media News. August 31, 2010. Retrieved September 14, 2010. 
  10. ^ The Philadelphia Inquirer
  11. ^ Albanesius, Chloe. "Another Lawsuit Filed Over School Webcam Spying". PC Magazine. Retrieved August 11, 2010. 
  12. ^ Richard Ilgenfritz (September 18, 2010). "LM could be facing a new webcam suit". Main Line Media News. Retrieved October 7, 2010. 
  13. ^ "No charges in Lower Merion webcam case". AllBusiness.com. Retrieved September 14, 2010. 
  14. ^ a b c O’Loughlin, Kathy (June 1, 2012). "MAIN LINE HISTORY: Our hometown military heroes". Main Line Times. Retrieved May 3, 2013. 
  15. ^ "The Development". The Lower Merion Historical Society. Retrieved May 3, 2013. 
  16. ^ a b c d e "Recipients of the Lower Merion/Harriton Alumni Association Distinguished Alumni Award". Lower Merion/Harriton High School Alumni Association. Retrieved May 3, 2013. 
  17. ^ McGrath, Charles (March 29, 2008). "Robert Fagles, Translator of the Classics, Dies at 74". New York Times. Retrieved May 3, 2013. 
  18. ^ Josephs, Ira (May 16, 2000). "Lower Merion Star Is Heading South John Christmas Has Received A Rare Full Scholarship To Virginia, The Defending National Champ.". Philly.com. Retrieved May 3, 2013. 
  19. ^ "Rochester Rattlers". Rochester Rattlers. Retrieved 19 May 2014. 

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 40°00′35″N 75°16′48″W / 40.0096°N 75.2800°W / 40.0096; -75.2800