Altoona Area High School

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Altoona Area High School
1415 Sixth Avenue
Altoona, Pennsylvania, Blair County 16602
United States
Coordinates 40°30′36″N 78°23′52″W / 40.50998°N 78.39787°W / 40.50998; -78.39787Coordinates: 40°30′36″N 78°23′52″W / 40.50998°N 78.39787°W / 40.50998; -78.39787
School type Public school (government funded), High School
Established 1895 (1895)
School board 9 locally elected members
School district Altoona Area School District
NCES District ID 4202340[1]
NCES School ID 420234000913[2]
Principal Patty Burlingame
Faculty 115.3 (on full-time equivalent (FTE) basis)[2]
Enrollment 1800[2] (2008–2009)
Pupils 1765 (2009-10) [3]
 • Grade 10 662[2]
 • Grade 11 534[2]
 • Grade 12 501[2]
Student to teacher ratio 15.6[2]
Color(s) Maroon and white          
Mascot Mountain lion
Tuition for nonresident and charter school students $8,068.45 (2011)[4]

Altoona Area High School is the public high school for the Altoona Area School District in Altoona, Pennsylvania. The high school serves the communities of Altoona, Logan Township, and a small portion of Tyrone Township.[5] The school is located at 1415 Sixth Avenue, in the downtown section of Altoona, PA 16602.

The school district is the eighteenth largest in the state, and the high school is one of the largest and well known in the state. Altoona Area High School (AAHS) teaches grades 10 through 12.

Academic achievement[edit]

In U.S. News & World Report's annual ranking of American high schools, in which schools are awarded gold, silver or bronze medals based on state proficiency standards and how well they prepare students for college, Altoona Area High School received a bronze in 2013.[6]


The first six official graduates of Altoona Area High School graduated in 1877.

A riot occurred at the school in 1907 after boys in the senior class attempted to disrupt a junior class social. A large fight ensued and several students were injured after students threw stones and fired revolvers.[7]

Another riot occurred at the school in 1910 after 25 senior students—on their last day of school—marched into the school's chapel service with their faces smeared. A large fight resulted, leading to the arrest of 2 students and suspension of 25 others.[8]

In 1943, Altoona High became the only high school in the United States to have a World War II veteran as its class president. Robert G. Pennington, 18, had enlisted in 1942, and served four months in the Marine Corps before obtaining a medical discharge. He then returned to school.[9]

Country music star and gay rights activist Chely Wright attended the school's 1998 prom, after accepting a request from student Dave Showalter that she be his date.[10]

In 2002, school officials permitted an undercover female police officer to pose as a student for 3 months in order to identify drug transactions at the school. Five students were charged with drug violations.[11]


The school was first located at the Webster Building, then became established in a separate building until 1895. In 1905, it moved to its present location on sixth avenue. This building cost $250,000. After the First World War, the building was not large enough to house the number of students it had enrolled. In 1927, a $1 million annex was added to accompany the facilities. A $14 million project during the 1970s allowed the school to be completely renovated and a 1200-seat auditorium was built. A new gym, called the fieldhouse, was also constructed. In 1995, the Women's Basketball Coaches Association High School All-America game was telecast live for the fieldhouse by ESPN2.

Building features[edit]

The school itself contains a planetarium, full size gym, television studio, auxiliary gym, electronic learning laboratory, and regulation size swimming pool. On campus, there is a running track, two basketball courts, two turf fields, five tennis courts, and two volleyball courts. The Vocational Technology Center is located adjacent to the high school.

Students and teachers[edit]

Ethnicity Altoona Area High School State average
Caucasian 96% 76%
African American 3% 16%
Hispanic <1% 6%
Asian <1% 2%
Category Altoona Area High School State average
Students eligible for free or reduced lunch 56% 33%
Student to teacher ratio 16.63:1 ~17:1
  • Number of students- 1962
    • Tenth grade- 688
    • Eleventh grade- 671
    • Twelfth grade- 439
  • Number of teachers- 118

Graduation rate[edit]

In 2011, the Altoona Area School District's graduation rate was 86.75%.[12] In 2010, the Pennsylvania Department of Education issued a new, 4 year cohort graduation rate. Altoona Area School District's rate was 80% for 2010.[13]

According to traditional graduation rate calculations:


In 2011, Altoona High School declined to School Improvement I level due to lagging student achievement.[18] In 2010 the high school achieved Making Progress: in School Improvement I status. Under the federal No Child Left Behind Act, the school administration was required to notify parents of the school's poor achievement outcomes and to offer the parent the opportunity to transfer to a successful school within the District. Additionally the school administration was required by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, to develop a School Improvement Plan to address the school's low student achievement. Under the Pennsylvania Accountability System, the school must pay for additional tutoring for struggling students.[19] In 2009, the school was in School Improvement I status due to chronically low student achievement.[20]

11th grade reading[edit]

  • 2011 – 77% on grade level, (8% below basic). State – 69.1% of 11th graders are on grade level.[21]
  • 2010 – 77% (13% below basic). State – 66%.[22]
  • 2009 – 76% (14% below basic), State – 65% [23]
  • 2008 – 72% (13% below basic), State – 65% [24]
  • 2007 – 72% (16% below basic), State – 65% [25]

11th grade math[edit]

  • 2011 – 72% on grade level (13% below basic). In Pennsylvania, 60.3% of 11th graders are on grade level.[26]
  • 2010 – 75% (12% below basic). State - 59%[27]
  • 2009 – 66% (20% below basic). State – 56%.
  • 2008 – 58% (24% below basic), State – 56%
  • 2007 – 59% (21% below basic), State – 53%

11th grade science[edit]

  • 2011 – 49% on grade level (9% below basic). State – 40% of 11th graders were on grade level.[28]
  • 2010 – 51% (11% below basic). State – 39%
  • 2009 – 44% (14% below basic). State – 40% [29]
  • 2008 – 46% (14% below basic), State – 39%

College remediation[edit]

According to a Pennsylvania Department of Education study released in January 2009, 17% of Altoona Area High School graduates required remediation in mathematics and or reading before they were prepared to take college level courses in the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education or community colleges.[30] Less than 66% of Pennsylvania high school graduates, who enroll in a four-year college in Pennsylvania, will earn a bachelor's degree within six years. Among Pennsylvania high school graduates pursuing an associate degree, only one in three graduate in three years.[31] Per the Pennsylvania Department of Education, one in three recent high school graduates who attend Pennsylvania's public universities and community colleges takes at least one remedial course in math, reading or English.

Advanced placement courses[edit]

College credits can be earned by taking any of 17 advanced placement courses. These include English, Calculus, Statistics, Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Computer Science, Music Theory and Harmony, American History, European History, Comparative Government, American Government, French,Spanish, 2D Studio Art, and Economics.[32] Micro- and Macro- Economics were not offered as courses during the 2009–2010 year due to lack of student interest.

Dual enrollment[edit]

The high school offers a Dual Enrollment program. This state program permits high school students to take courses, at local higher education institutions, to earn college credits. Students remain enrolled at their high school. The courses count towards high school graduation requirements and towards earning a college degree. The students continue to have full access to activities and programs at their high school. The college credits are offered at a deeply discounted rate. The state offers a small grant to assist students in costs for tuition, fees and books.[33] Under the Pennsylvania Transfer and Articulation Agreement, many Pennsylvania colleges and universities accept these credits for students who transfer to their institutions.[34] For the 2009–10 funding year, the school district received a state grant of $20,759 for the program.

SAT Scores[edit]

From January to June 2011, 307 Altoona Area students took the SAT exams. The district's Verbal Average Score was 489. The Math average score was 493. The Writing average score was 475.[35] Pennsylvania ranked 40th among states with SAT scores: Verbal - 493, Math - 501, Writing - 479.[36] In the United States, 1.65 million students took the exam in 2011. They averaged 497 (out of 800) verbal, 514 math and 489 in writing.[37]

Graduation requirements[edit]

The Altoona Area School Board has determined that a high school student must earn 24 credits in order to graduate, including: English 4 credits, Social Studies 4 credits, Mathematics 4 credits, Science 3 credits, Physical Education 1 credits, Health 0.5 credit, Arts/humanities 2 credit and 6.5 elective credits.[38]

By law, all Pennsylvania secondary school students must complete a project as a part of their eligibility to graduate from high school. The type of project, its rigor and its expectations are set by the individual school district.[39] At Altoona High School the Graduation Project is a research project that is accomplished in Senior English classes. Students must make a presentation of their project. They can give a speech, complete a PowerPoint presentation, create a visual, produce videotape, or complete a role-play or demonstration.

By Pennsylvania School Board regulations, for the graduating class of 2017, students must demonstrate successful completion of secondary level course work in Algebra I, Biology, English Composition, and Literature for which the Keystone Exams serve as the final course exams. Students’ Keystone Exam scores shall count for at least one-third of the final course grade.[40][41][42] In 2011, Pennsylvania high school students field tested the Algebra 1, Biology and English Lit exams. The statewide results were: Algebra 1 38% on grade level, Biology 35% on grade level and English Lit - 49% on grade level.[43] Individual student, school or district reports were not made public, although they were reported to district officials by the Pennsylvania Department of Education. Students identified as having special needs and qualifying for an Individual Educational Program (IEP) may graduate by meeting the requirements of their IEP.

William P. Kimmel Alternative School[edit]

The District offers this school for students who are not successful or are disruptive in the traditional public school setting. The school focuses on dropout prevention, improving student's reading and math skills and assisting the student to successfully graduate. The school was named for a former school board president.


The district offers a variety of clubs, activities and an extensive costly, sports program. Eligibility to participate is determined by school board policies. The district owns three fields with artificial turfs enhance physical education, intramural and interscholastic athletic opportunities.

By Pennsylvania law, all K-12 students in the district, including those who attend a private nonpublic school, cyber charter school, charter school and those homeschooled, are eligible to participate in the extracurricular programs including all athletics. They must meet the same eligibility rules as the students enrolled in the district's schools.[44]

Clubs and organizations[edit]

The school offers a wide variety of clubs and organizations that the students can join. These include Concert Chorus, Drama, one basic and one advanced Jazz Bands, An award winning, nationally ranked Marching band, Orchestra, Pep band, Wind Ensemble, String Ensemble, Vocal Ensemble, Chorus, Auxiliary, Mountain Lion Television (MLTV), ETC (Et Cetera Literary Magazine), Horseshoe (Yearbook), Mt. Echo (Newspaper), Advanced Dance Class Club, Ambassador Club, Astronomy Club, Chess Club, The Circle of Friends (Support group), Computer Club, Class Organizations, Diversity Group, Earthkeepers, Foreign Language Club (now known as Fanatics for Language and Culture), Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA), Future Homemakers of America Club (FCCLA), General Interest Club, Girls’ League, Homecoming Committee, Interact Club, Junior Academy of Science, Key Club, Lioneers (dance/drill team), Mock Trial Team, National Art Honor Society, National Honor Society (NHS), REACH (Support group), Peer Mediation Program, Performing Arts Club, Principal's Student Advisory Committee, Speech League, Student Council, Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD), Scholastic Scrimmage Team, Sports Interest Club, Youth Education Association Club, and Youth and Government Club.


There are numerous sports and athletic programs available to the students at Altoona Area High School including an Intramural sports program. The Football and Track and Field teams compete at historic Mansion Park, which recently underwent field replacement. The District also operates the Sheetz Athletic Training Center a 3600 square-foot facility opened in August, 2009.

Mansion Park home side, summer 2007
Mansion Park visitor side, summer 2007

Male sports[edit]

Baseball, Basketball, Cross Country, Football, Golf, Soccer, Swimming, Tennis, Track and Field, Volleyball, Winter Track, Ice Hockey, and Wrestling

Female sports[edit]

Basketball, Cheerleading, Cross Country, Gymnastics, Soccer, Softball, Swimming, Tennis, Track and Field, Volleyball, and Winter Track.

Notable alumni[edit]


  1. ^ "Search for Public School Districts – District Detail for Altoona Area Sd". National Center for Education Statistics. Institute of Education Sciences. Retrieved June 5, 2011. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g "Search for Public Schools - School Detail for Altoona Area HS". National Center for Education Statistics. Institute of Education Sciences. Retrieved May 11, 2011. 
  3. ^ Pennsylvania Department of Education, Enrollment and Projections by LEA, 2010
  4. ^ Pennsylvania Department of Education, Pennsylvania Public School District Tuition Rates, May 2012
  5. ^ "Altoona Area School District". Altoona Area School District. Retrieved 19 September 2011. 
  6. ^ "Best High Schools". U.S.News & World Report. Retrieved Sep 2013.  Check date values in: |access-date= (help)
  7. ^ "Fire Pistols in High School". Pittsburgh Press. April 20, 1907. 
  8. ^ "Riot in Altoona High School Leads to Arrest; 25 to be Suspended". Pittsburgh Press. May 17, 1910. 
  9. ^ "Altoona High School Class Elects Veteran". Reading Eagle. Oct 31, 1943. 
  10. ^ "Altoona Senior Escorts Country Singer to Prom". Reading Eagle. May 28, 1998. 
  11. ^ Gibb, Tom (May 30, 2002). "Drugs Favorite Subject of Officer Posing as Coed". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. 
  12. ^ Pennsylvania Department of Education (September 29, 2011). "Altoona Area School District AYP Data Table". 
  13. ^ Pennsylvania Department of Education (March 15, 2011). "New 4-year Cohort Graduation Rate Calculation Now Being Implemented". 
  14. ^ Pennsylvania Department of Education (2010). "Altoona Area High School – School AYP Data Table". 
  15. ^ Pennsylvania Department of Education (2010). "Altoona Area School District Academic Achievement Report Card 2010" (PDF). 
  16. ^ The Times Tribune (2009). "Blair County School District Graduation rates 2008". 
  17. ^ Pennsylvania Partnership for Children (2008). "PA High School Graduation Info by School District 2007". 
  18. ^ Pennsylvania Department of Education (September 29, 2011). "Altoona Area High School - School AYP Overview 2011". 
  19. ^ Pennsylvania Department of Education (2012). "Pennsylvania Accountability System Frequently Asked Questions". 
  20. ^ Pennsylvania Department of Education (2010). "Altoona Area High School – School AYP Overview". 
  21. ^ Pennsylvania Department of Education (September 29, 2011). "2010-2011 PSSA and AYP Results". 
  22. ^ Pennsylvania Department of Education (2010). "2009–2010 PSSA and AYP Results". 
  23. ^ The Times-Tribune. (September 2009). "Grading Our Schools database, 2009 PSSA results,". 
  24. ^ Pennsylvania Department of Education (August 2008). "2007–2008 PSSA and AYP Results". 
  25. ^ Pennsylvania Department of Education (2007). "PSSA Math and Reading results". 
  26. ^ Pennsylvania Department of Education (September 29, 2011). "Altoona Area High School Academic Achievement Report Card 2011" (PDF). 
  27. ^ Pennsylvania Department of Education (March 2011). "Altoona Area High School Academic Achievement Report Card 2010" (PDF). 
  28. ^ Pennsylvania Department of Education (September 29, 2011). "2010-2011 PSSA results in Science". 
  29. ^ The Times-Tribune. (2009). "Grading Our Schools database, 2009 Science PSSA results,". 
  30. ^ Pennsylvania Department of Education (January 2009). "Pennsylvania College Remediation Report". 
  31. ^ National Center for Education Statistics
  32. ^ "English Courses" (PDF). Archived (PDF) from the original on 7 July 2011. Retrieved 2011-05-28. 
  33. ^ "Pennsylvania Department of Education – Dual Enrollment Guidelines". 2010-01-07. Retrieved 2011-05-28. 
  34. ^ Pennsylvania Transfer and Articulation Agreement. site accessed March 2010.
  35. ^ Pennsylvania Department of Education (2011). "Public School SAT Scores 2011". Archived from the original on 2011-10-15. 
  36. ^ College Board (September 2011). "SAT Scores State By State - Pennsylvania". Archived from the original on 2011-10-08. 
  37. ^ "While U.S. SAT scores dip across the board, N.J. test-takers hold steady". September 2011. 
  38. ^ Altoona Area School District Administration (2010). "Altoona Area School District Senior High Graduation Requirements Student course description handbook". 
  39. ^ "Pennsylvania Code §4.24 (a) High school graduation requirements". 
  40. ^ Pennsylvania Department of Education (2010). "Keystone Exam Overview" (PDF). 
  41. ^ Pennsylvania Department of Education (September 2011). "Pennsylvania Keystone Exams Overview". Archived from the original on 2012-03-17. 
  42. ^ Pennsylvania State Board of Education (2010). "Rules and Regulation Title 22 PA School Code CH. 4". 
  43. ^ Pennsylvania Department of Education (2011). "Keystone Exams". 
  44. ^ Pennsylvania Office of the Governor Press Release, (November 10, 2005). "Home-Schooled, Charter School Children Can Participate in School District Extracurricular Activities,". 
  45. ^ Maury Patt NFL Football Statistics |

External links[edit]