Baltimore Polytechnic Institute

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Baltimore Polytechnic Institute
BPI Seal
Uniting Theory and Practice
1400 W. Cold Spring Lane
Baltimore, Maryland, 21209
United States
Coordinates 39°20′48″N 76°38′41″W / 39.34677°N 76.64469°W / 39.34677; -76.64469[1]Coordinates: 39°20′48″N 76°38′41″W / 39.34677°N 76.64469°W / 39.34677; -76.64469[1]
School type Public, Secondary, Magnet
Founded 1883
Opened 1883;1913;1967 (current)
Sister school Western High School
School district Baltimore City Public Schools
Superintendent Dr. Gregory Thornton [CEO]
School code 403
President Harry Huntley '16
Director Jacqueline Willams[2]
Faculty 88[3]
Grades 912
Gender 49% male; 51% female[4]
Enrollment 1647[4]
Area Urban
School color(s) Orange      and Blue     
Song Polytechnic Hymn
Fight song Poly Fight Song
Athletics conference MPSSAA
Sports 23[4]
Mascot Parrot
Nickname BPI; Poly; The Institute
Team name The Engineers
Rivals Baltimore City College
USNWR ranking 1,467[3]
Newspaper The Poly Press
Yearbook The Poly Cracker
Budget $10,748,593.00 (fiscal year 2014)[5]

Baltimore Polytechnic Institute, colloquially referred to as BPI, Poly, and The Institute, is a U.S. public high school founded in 1883. Though established as an all-male trade school, it is now a coeducational institution (polytechnic) that emphasizes sciences, Technology, Art, engineering, and mathematics (STEAM). It is located on a 53-acre (21 ha) tract of land in North Baltimore at the intersection of Falls Road and Cold Spring Lane, bordering Roland Park to the east and I-83 to the west. BPI and Western High School, originally BPI's sister school, are located on the same campus, share several amenities including a cafeteria, auditorium, and athletic fields, as well as a collaborative marching band, The Marching Flock.[6] BPI is a Maryland Blue Ribbon School of Excellence.[7]


BPI was founded in 1883, after Joshua Plaskitt petitioned the Baltimore City authorities to establish a school for instruction in engineering. The original school was named the Baltimore Manual Training School, and its first class was made up of about sixty students, all of whom were male. The official name of the school was changed in the 1890s to the Baltimore Polytechnic Institute. The first principals were Dr. Richard Grady, Lt. John D. Ford, and Lieutenant William King, after whom King Memorial Hall is named. The first building was located on the former site of the old central City Spring on Courtland Street just north of East Saratoga Street of which the area was later contained in Baltimore's first "urban renewal" plan with the tearing down of several blocks of houses along Courtland and Saint Paul Streets to the west and the construction of Preston Gardens and Saint Paul Place from Lexington Street to Centre Street in the north in 1923. The former BPI building became home to the Baltimore City Department of Welfare and was later annexed by neighboring Mercy Hospital on North Calvert Street to the east and later torn down for construction of their first hospital tower in 1964. In 1983, at the school's centennial observation, a historical plaque was placed in the lobby of the hospital commemorating that earlier first home of Poly. It just so happened that this building was across the street and fifty years later after their long-time rival school Baltimore City College was established in a row house in 1839, also on the now vanished Courtland Street

Baltimore Polytechnic Institute on North Avenue


Due to continued growth of the student population at BPI, the school relocated in 1913 to Calvert Street and North Avenue. While at this location, the school expanded both its academic and athletic programs under the supervision of Dr. Wilmer Dehuff, who was principal from 1921 to 1958 and reluctantly (see below) oversaw the racial integration of the school in 1952, the first instance in City of Baltimore public schools.[8][9] Dehuff later served as the president and Dean of Faculty at the University of Baltimore.


Most Baltimore City public schools were not integrated until after the Supreme Court decision in Brown v. Board of Education. BPI had an unusually advanced and difficult college engineering "A" preparatory curriculum which included calculus, analytical chemistry, electricity, mechanics and surveying; these subjects were not offered at the black schools in the City before 1952.[10] BPI was a whites-only school but supported by taxes on the general population. No black schools in the City (black students could not attend whites-only schools) offered such courses, nor did they have classrooms, labs, libraries or teachers comparable to those at BPI. Because of this a group of 16 African American students, with help and support from their parents, the Baltimore Urban League and the NAACP, applied for the engineering "A" course at the Poly;[11] the applications were denied and the students sued.

The subsequent trial began on June 16, 1952. The NAACP’s intentions were to end segregation at the 50-year-old public high school. In the BPI case they argued that BPI’s offerings of specialized engineering courses violated the "separate but equal" clause because these courses were not offered in high schools for black students. To avoid integration, an out-of-court proposal was made to the Baltimore City school board to start an equivalent "A" course at the "colored" (for non-whites) Frederick Douglass High School. The hearing on the "Douglass" plan lasted for hours, with Dehuff and others arguing that separate but equal "A" courses would satisfy constitutional requirements and NAACP attorney Thurgood Marshall arguing that the plan was a gamble and cost the City should not take. By a vote of 5–3, the board decided that a separate "A" course would not provide the same educational opportunities for African American students, and that, starting that fall, African American students could attend Poly.[12] The vote vindicated the NAACP national strategy of raising the cost of 'separate but equal' schools beyond what taxpayers were willing to pay.[13] Thirteen African American students, Leonard Cephas, Carl Clark, William Clark, Milton Cornish, Clarence Daly, Victor Dates, Alvin Giles, Bucky Hawkins, Linwood Jones, Edward Savage, Everett Sherman, Robert Young, and Silas Young, finally entered the school that fall. They were faced daily with racial epithets, threats of violence and isolation from many of the more than 2,000 students at the school.[14] The first of those students to graduate from Poly was Dr. Carl O. Clark in 1955. Dr. Clark went on to become the first African-American to graduate from the University of South Carolina with a degree in Physics in 1976.

BPI complex[edit]

Baltimore Polytechnic Institute's current building on Falls Road

In 1967, then-principal Claude Burkert (1958–1969) oversaw the relocation of his school to its current location at 1400 West Cold Spring Lane, a fifty-three acre tract of land bordering Falls Road and Roland Park. Also occupying this site is the Western High School, an all-girl school founded in 1844. Notable buildings on the campus include Dehuff Hall, also known as the academic building, where students attend normal classes, and Burkert Hall, also called the engineering building, where students attend classes in the Willard Hackerman Engineering Program. Both Western High School and Poly students make use of the auditorium/cafeteria complex, and likewise share the large gymnasium, swimming pool and sports fields. While these two schools share grounds and buildings, that is all they share: their respective academic programs are completely separate from one another. The students of each school are not allowed on the other school's grounds without permission.

Poly-Western Band at the 2008 Morgan State University Homecoming Parade.

In 1974, Poly officially became coeducational when it began admitting female students. The first female to enroll and successfully graduate from the "A" course was an African-American named Cindy White (1974–1978). In the late 1980s, the title "principal" was changed to "director." After the retirement of Director John Dohler in 1990, Barbara Stricklin became the first woman to head the school, as she accepted the title of Interim Director. During Director Ian Cohen's tenure (1994–2003), Poly's curriculum was again expanded when it began offering AP classes. During the 2001–2002 school year, Poly was recognized by the Maryland State Department of Education when Poly was named a "Blue Ribbon School of Excellence."[7]

Lumsden-Scott Stadium at Baltimore Polytechnic Institute.

In 2004 Dr. Barney Wilson, a 1976 Poly graduate, became Baltimore Polytechnic Institute's first African-American Director.

In August 2010, assistant principal Matthew Woolston, was appointed as interim Director of the Baltimore Polytechnic Institute.

In 2011, BPI was ranked 1552 nationally and 44 in Maryland as a "Silver Medal School" by the U.S. News and World Report.[3]

Later on during the year Jacqueline Williams was appointed as interim director of the Baltimore Polytechnic Institute for the 2011–2012 school year. By the end of the school year – and after a two-year, nationwide search – Jacqueline Williams, class of 1981, was appointed as the first female Director of the institution. Williams has worked her way through the Poly ranks from student, to a teacher, to a department head, to assistant principal, and to Dean of Students, to her current position as Director[2]




Since the early 1900s the Engineers, along with City College, had dominated the Maryland Scholastic Association (MSA) football scene. However, since joining the MPSSAA in 1993, Poly made it to the final game once in 1993, the semifinals once in 1997 and the quarterfinals in 1994 and 1998.[15]

Poly and City[edit]

The Poly-City football rivalry is the oldest American football rivalry in Maryland and one of the oldest public school rivalries in the U.S.—predated by the rivalry between the Boston Latin School and the English High School of Boston.[23] The rivalry began in 1889, when a team from Baltimore City College (City) met a team from the Baltimore Polytechnic Institute (Poly), and has continued annually.[23] Despite City's initial dominance in the series, Poly leads in overall wins with the record standing at 62–54–6.

Early years[edit]

Little is known of the first American football game between Baltimore Polytechnic Institute (Poly) and Baltimore City College (City) in 1889, except that a JV team from Poly met City, in Clifton Park and City emerged the victor. That began the oldest football rivalry in Maryland.[23] City continued to win against Poly through 1901, however in 1902, for the only time in history of the series no game was played; though, in 1931, an extra game was played to compensate.[24] Between 1903 and 1906, City won the series, but the tide turned in 1907, when the first tie in the series occurred.[25] The next year Poly scored its first victory in the rivalry.[25]

1910s and 1920s[edit]

Poly dominated the series in the 1910s. The only year of the decade that City won was 1912,[26] and between 1914 and 1917, Poly shut out City. Poly's streak continued through 1921, completing a nine-year winning streak, which City broke in 1922 with a 27–0 victory.[27]

In 1926, one of the most famous Poly-City games was played. Prior to the game, the eligibility of City's halfback, Mickey Noonen, was challenged. A committee was formed to investigate Noonen's eligibility, but Noonen's father—frustrated with the investigation—struck one of the members of the committee. The result was that Noonen was not only barred from the team, but also expelled from the Baltimore City school system.[28] In spite of Noonen's removal, the two teams met at the Baltimore Stadium with 20,000 fans in attendance. The game remained scoreless well into the fourth quarter. Finally, Poly's Harry Lawerence—who later became a coach at City—kicked a successful field goal from the 30-yard leading to a 3–0 victory over City.[23]

1930s and 1940s[edit]

The 1930s ushered in a period of resurgence for the City team. Poly, which had dominated in the previous two decades, only picked up two wins in the 1930s.[26] In 1934, Harry Lawrence, who had kicked the winning field goal against City in 1926, became the head coach at his former rival.[29] Lawrence led City to a series of victories over Poly through the 1930s and early 1940s. In 1944, the game, which had been played on the Saturday following Thanksgiving, was moved to Thanksgiving Day. The change was the result of a scheduling conflict with the Army – Navy Game.[30] The game remained on Thanksgiving Day for nearly 50 years.

Lumsden and Young: 1950s and 1960s[edit]

Poly won five straight games against City to open the 1950s, and 9 of the decade's 10 games, under legendary coach Bob Lumsden, for whom the school's current football stadium is named. Lumsden finished with an 11–7 record against City when he retired as head coach in 1966. He also coached 9–0 Poly to the unofficial National High School Championship Game at Miami's Orange Bowl in 1962, against the Miami High Stingarees, but Poly lost by a score of 14–6. The team's fortunes changed later in the 1960s, when City was coached by George Young. Young guided his teams to six wins over Poly, and an equal number of state championships.[31] One of Young's most memorable victories occurred on Thanksgiving Day, 1965, at Memorial Stadium, when undefeated City beat undefeated Poly 52–6.[32]

1970s – Present[edit]

Poly controlled the series throughout the 1970s, and well into the 1980s. City lost a total of 17 consecutive games to Poly, before winning the 99th meeting between the two programs in 1987.[23] Poly's dominance during this period is the longest winning streak in the series. City also went on to win the historic 100th showdown a year later, before Poly got on another roll, starting with the 101st clash in 1989. Baltimore City's public schools withdrew from the Maryland State Athletic Association, in 1993, and joined the Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association (MPSSAA).[33] This change meant that the football season would end earlier, forcing Poly and City to move their game from Thanksgiving Day to the first Saturday in November. Poly and City met for the 119th time in November 2007, a contest marred by the outbreak of a large brawl outside M&T Bank Stadium after the final whistle. Poly and City met for the 120th time on November 8, 2008. Baltimore Polytechnic Institute and Baltimore City College then met for the 121st time on November 7, 2009 with the score of 26–20. Poly and City met for the 122nd time on November 6, 2010.


  • Dr. Richard Grady (1883–1886)
  • Lt. John D. Ford (1886–1890)
  • Lieutenant William King (1890–1921)
  • Dr. Wilmer Dehuff (1921–1958)
  • Claude Burkert (1958–1969)
  • William Gerardi (1969–1980)
  • Zeney Jacobs (1980–1984)
  • Gary Thrift (1984–1985)
  • John Dohler (1985–1990)
  • Barbara Stricklin^ (1990–1991)
  • Dr. Albert Strickland (1991–1994)
  • Ian Cohen (1994–2003)
  • Sharon Kanter^ (2003–2004)
  • Dr. Barney Wilson (2004–2010)
  • Matthew Woolston^ (2010–2011)
  • Jacqueline Williams (2011–present)

^ Denotes interim director while a search for a permanent director was occurring or ongoing at the time

Notable alumni[edit]

Arts, literature and entertainment[edit]



  • Jacqueline Williams, 1981 – First female African-American principal (2011–present).[2]
  • John Corcoran, PhD, DHC, 1956 – Logician, philosopher, mathematician, historian of logic.[47]
  • Rev. Joseph Allan Panuska, S.J., 1945 - President of the University of Scranton (1982-1998), academic Vice President and Dean of Faculties at Boston College (1979-1982), provincial of the seven state Maryland Province of the Society of Jesus (1973-1979), a biology professor and director of the Jesuit community at Georgetown University (1963-1973), and Jesuit priest.[48]

Judiciary/Law Enforcement[edit]





School Songs/Hymns[edit]

Poly Fight Song[66]

Poly proud are we
As we go marching
On to victory.
We are out to win, now!
Beat City's team!
Fight, fight for Poly.
Hoorah, hoorah, hoorah!"

Polytechnic Hymn[66]

-Written by James Sagerholm, Class of 1946:

"O Polytechnic, hail to thee
Our Alma Mater, hail to thee
We'll always loyal be and true
And fight on for the Orange and Blue.
Thy name we'll always hold on high
Forever, ever, B.P.I.

O Polytechnic, hail to thee
Our Alma Mater, hail to thee
Thy spirit ever onward go
And trample under any foe.
Be thy fair banner ever high,
Our guiding star within the sky."



  1. ^ U.S. Geological Survey Geographic Names Information System: Baltimore Polytechnic Institute. Geographic Names Information System (GNIS). Retrieved June 22, 2012.
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  3. ^ a b c "Baltimore Polytechnic Institute in Baltimore, MD". U.S. News and Report. Retrieved July 19, 2012. 
  4. ^ a b c
  5. ^
  6. ^ "The Bands - BPIWHS Combined Band Program". 
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  8. ^ Templeton (Winter 1954), p. 22-29
  9. ^ Thomsen (Fall 1984), p. 235-238
  10. ^ Templeton, Furman L. (Winter 1954). "The Admission of Negro Boys to the Baltimore Polytechnic Institute "A" Course". The Journal of Negro Education 23 (1): 29. doi:10.2307/2293243. JSTOR 2293243. 
  11. ^ Crockett, Sandra. "Breaking The Color Barrier at Poly in 1952". Maryland Historical Society, Baltimore, MD. 
  12. ^ "Integration of Baltimore Polytechnic High School". Maryland Civil Archived from the original on October 6, 2007. Retrieved 2007-10-11. 
  13. ^ Olson, Sherry H. Baltimore: The Building of an American City (1997) p. 368-69. Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, Maryland. ISBN 0-8018-5640-X
  14. ^ Glazer, Aaron M. "Course Correction". Baltimore City Paper Online. Retrieved 2007-10-11. 
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  16. ^ Saye, Hyman, editor (1925). The 1925 Green Bag. 
  17. ^ Offit, Benson, editor (1948). The 1948 Green Bag. 
  18. ^ Silverwood, Harry, editor (1952). The 1952 Green Bag. 
  19. ^ Jackson, James B. (November 26, 1965). "Unbeaten City Deals Poly First Loss 52–6". Baltimore Sun. 
  20. ^ a b c Dixon, Joseph V., editor (1979). The 1979 Green Bag. 
  21. ^ Mills, Keith (November 8, 2007). "City vs. Poly: Tradition Time Is Here Again". The Press Box. Retrieved 2009-08-29. 
  22. ^ Mills, Keith. "City vs. Poly: Tradition Time Is Here Again". Press Box Preps. Retrieved 2009-04-26. 
  23. ^ a b c d e Patterson (2000), p. 7.
  24. ^ Leonhart (1939), p. 219.
  25. ^ a b Leonhart (1939), p. 221.
  26. ^ a b Leonhart (1939), p. 229.
  27. ^ Leonhart (1939) p. 224.
  28. ^ Leonhart (1939), p. 225–226.
  29. ^ Leonhart (1939), p. 227.
  30. ^ Patterson (2000), p. 8.
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  34. ^ The Big Cartoon DataBase (October 25, 2004). "Cartoon Characters, Cast and Crew for Pink Panther Party". Big Cartoon DataBase (BCDB). 
  35. ^ The Big Cartoon DataBase (October 30, 1999). "Cartoon Characters, Cast and Crew for Avengers Assemble, Part 1 (Avengers Assemble: Part One)". Big Cartoon DataBase (BCDB). 
  36. ^ "H.L. Mencken". Encyclopedia Britannica. 
  37. ^ "House school prayer vote today is largely a case of symbolism Congress reluctant to act, but fears the power of the religious right". tribunedigital-baltimoresun. 
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  39. ^ "About Edward Wilson". Retrieved 2014-07-13. 
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  47. ^
  48. ^ "Joseph Allan Panuska". The University of Scranton: A Jesuit Institution. The University of Scranton. Retrieved 28 April 2015. 
  49. ^ Baltimore Sun "Horseshoe Security Chief Departs Four Months After Casino Opens". 
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  57. ^ "Nick Mosby, District 7: Baltimore City Council". 
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  59. ^ "Senate – Former Senators". Maryland State Archives. Retrieved September 4, 2012. 
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  62. ^ [1][dead link]
  63. ^ "Mike Pitts, DE at". National Football League. Retrieved 2012-05-05. 
  64. ^ "HS Then & Now: For Abiamiri, Draft Day Was Just Gorgeous". Press Box Online. Retrieved September 4, 2012. 
  65. ^ "Maryland State Championship". MileSplit Maryland. 
  66. ^ a b


  • Leonhart, James Chancellor (1939). One Hundred Years of the Baltimore City College. Baltimore: H.G. Roebuck & Son. 
  • Daneker, David C., editor (1988). 150 Years of the Baltimore City College. Baltimore: Baltimore City College Alumni Association. 
  • Marudas, Kyriakos (1988). The City-Poly Game. Baltimore: Gateway Press. 
  • Templeton, Furman L. “The Admission of Negro Boys in the Baltimore Polytechnic Institute ‘A’ Course.” Journal of Negro History 23 (Winter 1954)
  • Thomsen, Roszel C. “The Integration of Baltimore’s Polytechnic Institute: A Reminiscence.” Maryland Historical Magazine 79 (Fall 1984)

External links[edit]