Pottsville Area High School
|Pottsville Area High School|
|16th Street and Elk Avenue
|Type||Public school, secondary|
|Oversight||Pottsville Area School District|
|Campus||16th and Elk Avenue|
|Color(s)||Crimson and White|
|Website||Pottsville Area High School|
Pottsville Area High School is a coeducational public high school located in Pottsville, Pennsylvania. It is part of the Pottsville Area School District and is the largest public high school in Schuylkill County. It was founded in 1853 and offers a comprehensive program with an enrollment of approximately 1,000 students in ninth through twelfth grades. Students from neighboring Saint Clair Area School District attend the high school, with their district paying tuition to PASD. The school building, with its Italian Gothic brickwork, retains its architectural and historical integrity while housing modern facilities such as four science labs, a planetarium and observatory, four computer labs, three art and two music studios, and two gymnasiums. The library has a collection of 10,000 volumes and more than 40 magazine subscriptions and access to resources throughout the state through computer systems. A formal 1,499-seat auditorium and a little theater are unique features of the building. Within the district complex are tennis courts, athletic fields, and a sports complex including a natatorium. The current high school building was constructed in 1932, and it continues to lead as an example in architectural geniuity.
The first publicly printed intent of the school board to organize a high school in Pottsville was contained in an item which appeared in a newspaper issue of September 6, 1847. It announced that the school would open with Elias F. Perrin as principal; Monsieur F. Perrin, teacher of French and German; W. P. Koutz, of natural science, history and elocution; and E. Sagendorf, of English. A later notation announced that Pottsville High School was to be dedicated January 1, 1848. The above named teachers were those who had conducted the Pottsville Academy.
On February 18, 1851, the school board advertised that applications would be received for a superintendent of schools, and the reply from Elias Schneider seemed to indicate definitely the board had intended to establish a high school in September, 1851, since he said in part: "I do, therefore, offer myself as a candidate for the office of a superintendent of your schools, with the expectation that the high school will be commenced next 1st of September." Mr. Schneider, who assumed his duties on April 1. 1851, received a salary of $50 a month. A report by Superintendent Schneider, on which the March 15, 1853, date of the founding of the high school is based, was received by the school board on March 3, 1853. The report asked favorable consideration of a plan to divide the No. 1 male school. (Bunker Hill grammar school), by transferring the most advanced pupils from this room into the one above. "At present, we have a high school in reality but not in name. As we have the thing, let us have the name," Schneider's report stated. Then he continued, "A high school proper can be established without any other additional expense than a salary of a female teacher. Mr. Gotshall and myself can attend to the upper classes, and the male assistant with a female can teach the others.
This arrangement would give me just about sufficient time to attend my general duties, as well as to a number of daily recitations." Undoubtedly the school board of the time was faced with many problems concerning the operation of the new high school but what they were is a matter of conjecture because historical information on the subject is meager. However, the weather did occupy the attention of the directors at a meeting on May 18, 1853, when a number of people petitioned the board to have only one session of school during the hot weather, from 7:30 A. M. to 1:30 P.M. A paid advertisement appearing in The Miners' Journal issue of April 26, 1851, gave the following regulations for the operation of the common schools as adopted April 10, 1851: "The hours of instruction shall be from 8 o 'clock until 12 in the morning, and from 2 P. M. until 5 in the afternoon, from the 1st of April until the 1st of October; and from 9 o 'clock until 12 in the morning and from 1 o'clock until 4 in the afternoon from the 1st of October until the 1st of April. "A vacation shall be allowed the month of August, and in the afternoon of each Saturday. The schools shall also be closed on the 1st day of January, Good Friday, in Easter week until the Tuesday following, 4th of July, and Christmas Day, and on such other days as the directors may allow."
Graduation from high school during the first eight years of its operation carried with it no tangible evidence of the fact for the boys and girls who had completed the course. According to an early newspaper clipping the Class of 1862 was the first to receive diplomas. These went to a class of ten – seven girls and three boys. Among them were James B. Reilly (who later represented the area in Congress), Alfred J. Derr, Joseph W . Gumpfert, and Miss Wynkoop. The commencement was in the form of a public examination conducted by the faculty from the State Normal School. At the time, J. W. Roseberry was president of the school board, and Christopher Little the secretary. The receipt of a diploma, however, didn't help the school enrollment during the Civil War period. Many scholars enlisted and others went to work. The school became practically non-operative and higher education for Pottsville pupils virtually halted at the grammar school level.
It was during this period that Benjamin F. Patterson, one of the outstanding figures in the history of the Pottsville school system, came on the scene. Mr. Patterson was elected high school principal in March, 1865. On April 1, 1867, he was named superintendent, a position he held until his death in July, 1906.
Post Civil War
After the Civil War, a committee comprising Peter W. Sheafer, William B. W ells, Christopher Little, John W . Roseberry, and David A. Smith accomplished the reorganization of the high school and it was again placed on a firm basis. The P. H. S. Annual of 1905 said of the reorganization, "At this time a curriculum was adopted which has suffered little change." The then prevailing three-year course offered the following subjects: First (Junior Year) ~ History, algebra, geometry, foundation of Latin, Caesar, elocution; Second (Middle Year) ~ Geometry, physiology, literature, botany, composition, Cicero, Latin prose, Caesar, elocution, physical geography; Third (Senior Year ) ~ Physics, Cicero, Virgil, rhetoric, civics, astronomy, trigonometry, chemistry, geology, elocution.
A fourth or post-graduate year offered these subjects: Solid geometry, advanced algebra, Virgil, Cicero, prose composition, review of the three years' work in Latin, and mathematics. Elective subjects included German, French, Greek, teachers' course, and mathematics. Shortly before the reorganization of the school, its location was moved to the old Academy building at Fifth and West Norwegian Streets. The enrollment at the time numbered 14 pupils. The school site was the Jackson Street building from 1876 to 1894 when it was transferred to the Garfield building at Fifth and West Norwegian Streets, then in 1916 to the Patterson building at Twelfth and Market Streets, and finally to the present location at Sixteenth Street and Elk Avenue in January, 1933.
Within a ten-year period following the school's reorganization, enrollments increased. School board proceedings of the time showed the enrollment of 59 pupils and three teachers in 1873; 78 pupils and two teachers in 1878; 81 pupils and three teachers in June, 1882, and 144 pupils and three teachers in November 1893. The all-time high enrollment in the school's history was 1,700 students during the 1939-40 term. During this period of rapid growth the high school was directed by Stephen A. Thurlow, another outstanding figure in local educational circles. Mr. Thurlow was named principal in September, 1881, and later became superintendent in 1906 upon the death of Mr. Patterson. Mr. Thurlow served as superintendent until his death on January 4, 1912.
The closing years of the Nineteenth Century marked another big step forward in Pennsylvania that made a high school education possible for many who could not otherwise afford this schooling. The Free School Book Act was adopted by the Legislature and in September, 1893, all public school scholars received their textbooks without cost. Previously high school textbooks would cost approximately $25, a large sum in those days. In commenting on the issuance of free textbooks the P. H. S. Annual of 1894 had this to say: "The benefit to be derived from this cannot be told in a short space, but it is sufficient to say that the whole country will be benefited by graduating from the schools, intelligent and educated men and women."
With the increase in the student body during the 1876-'94 period, while the school was situated in the Jackson Street building, came the first large-scale expansion of the school curriculum. A commercial department was added, but as a separate unit. On March 12, 1912, it was merged with the academic department. The beginning of the second half of the school's centennial history brought with it an innovation that ranked only second to the issuance of free textbooks in promoting the growth of the school. This was the inauguration of a four-year course that went into effect in September, 1908. The 1908 issue of the Annual related: "For some years a four-year course has been agitated for the high school, but up to this time it has received no serious attention. The visit of the State Inspector of High Schools, however, seems to have brought the matter before the minds of the board and the people in general as never before."
Further, the Annual report stated: "A four-year course would mean much for the high school, much in the way of scholarship and in preparation for college or for immediate entrance to the business world. This enlargement of the curriculum would necessitate more room and more teachers, but surely Pottsville can afford this with its boasted wealth and the love for education. Under existing conditions we are hampered by the lack of time for such studies as rhetoric, chemistry and astronomy three of the most difficult and important studies in the curriculum." The Class of 1912 was the first to graduate under the four-year curriculum-there being no 1911 class-but the new educational venture brought with it new problems for the school board.
When school resumed in the fall of 1914 there was not sufficient room to accommodate the pupils. Within a period of six years the enrollment had increased from 100 to 300 and fully 100 more were listed for the 1914-'15 term. A number of plans were considered by the school board, among them a suggestion that a new building be erected at Nineteenth and Market Streets, or that the Garfield building, then the site of the high school, be enlarged by the addition of another story. The most practical idea, however, seemed to be the one proposed for enlarging the Patterson building at Twelfth Street to accommodate the high school pupils. Architect F. X. Reilly drew up plans to enlarge the Patterson building; Contractor Wertley was awarded the contract for $44,250 and on September 29, 1916, the new school opened with an enrollment of 500 pupils.
World War I Years
With the outbreak of World War I popular public opinion forced the school authorities to substitute Spanish for German in the language department and the inauguration of an ROTC unit. An ROTC auxiliary was also formed, with every girl in the school enrolled in the unit. The training course was discontinued in 1921 and the question of new quarters for the high school again came to the attention of the school board and public. The electorate defeated the initial plan for a new building by a 3534-1804 vote at a special election on November 5, 1924. In December 1930, the public voted 2449 to 1521 in favor of a $900,000 loan to build the present school on the site then known as Fisher's Farm. The school was ready for occupancy in January 1933.
The new school building in its design is an adaptation of Italian-Gothic brick work. Its beauty is enhanced by the large irregular and commanding site in which it stands, and by the variety of exterior design that reflects the manifold activities of a modern school building. Because of the different grade levels the structure evolves gradually from a three-story building on the west to a five-story plant on the east. It is so uniquely planned, however, that the two gymnasiums on the west, the general offices at the central or main entrances, the auditorium on the east, and the cafeteria underneath, all have ground floor entrances.
In February 1959, Vetern's Memorial Stadium, the Pottsville High School's Stadium, faced numerous cave-ins as a result of being located on the site of the old York Farm Colliery whose mining operations covered the area. A sink-hole developed underneath the Press Box that was 18 feet in depth and eight feet in diameter. It was thought to compromise the integrity of the symbolic press box as well as the structure of the home side bleachers. Similar cave-ins occurred in 1937 when the east end of the stadium was deemed unstable and suffered collapses and required numerous tons of fill to render the field safe for athletic competition.
In 1966, a planetarium-observatory was added to the school's 3rd Floor. The planetarium was installed in what was the East Study Hall area and seats 72 observers, while the observatory located on the roof of the East Wing can accommodate 20 observers. The planetarium features a star projector manufactured by Spitz Laboratories, Inc., of Yorklyn, Delaware which is capable of producing night skies featuring stars, the solar system, coordinates, and the earth's geography. In order to accommodate the planetarium, the East Study Hall was partitioned off for the installation of a dome measuring 30-foot in diameter and two stairwells leading to the telescope in the observatory. This project was the first of its kind at the time and was approved under the Federal Elementary and Secondary Education Act, Title One. Contracting for the construction was handled by Scheider & Davis at a cost of $119,000 in 1966. The first director of the facility was Wayne L. Smiley, a graduate of Oswego State College, New York. This unique space science lab is a significant part of the science facilities of the Pottsville High School.
In 1989, it was decided by the St. Clair School District in collaboration with the Pottsville School District that 230 high school students from St. Clair, Pennsylvania as well as all future students in the 9th through 12th grades would transfer to the newly named Pottsville Area High School on a tuition based model. The decision initially faced opposition from the Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board and the St. Clair Teachers Association, but was ultimately upheld and the arrangement still is in place today.
Pottsville Area High School has an extensive catalogue of elective courses available to its students. The courses can range anywhere from Exploring Microsoft Office to Advanced Placement Calculus.
- Credits: The primary requirement for Pottsville Area High School students to graduate is to obtain 23 credits from their courses. Credits are arbitrarily assigned values of either 1 credit or .5 credits depending on its length, with year classes being worth 1 credit and semester courses being worth .5 credits. Credits also determine if a student is allowed to pass on to the next grade level. Students also have a required amount of credits they need to take each year, though atypically the required credits are surpassed by the amount of credits given with their required classes per year.
- Quality points: As well as being worth credits, all courses are worth specific quality points. While not required to graduate, quality points determine class rank and the valedictorian. Courses are assigned quality points based on length and difficulty. As of the 08-09 school year the quality point system will be revised with a larger range of points. Advanced courses will then be worth 6.0 quality points while semester courses will be worth 1.5-2.0 quality points. Standard year classes will continue to be worth 4.0 quality points. However, unlike credits, quality points are multiplied by the students final grade for the year. Therefore, a student who averages a B in the first marking period in a 4.0 class will only receive 3.0 quality points. At the end of each year quality points are totaled and class ranks are assigned accordingly.
- College remediation: According to a Pennsylvania Department of Education study released in January 2009, 23% of Pottsville 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. 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. 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.
The high school is in School Improvement I AYP status due to persistently low graduation rate in 2010. The attendance rate was reported as 94%.
- 11th grade reading
- 2010 - 76% on grade level. In Pennsylvania, 66% of 11th graders on grade level.
- 2009 - 68%, State - 65% 
- 2008 - 60%, State - 65%
- 2007 - 60%, State - 65% 
- 11th grade math
- 2010 - 60% on grade level. In Pennsylvania, 59% of 11th graders are on grade level.
- 2009 - 55%, State - 56%
- 2008 - 36%, State - 56% 
- 2007 - 50%, State - 53%
- 11th grade science
- 2010 - 36% on grade level. State - 39% of 11th graders were on grade level.
- 2009 - 31%, State - 40%
- 2008 - 27%, State - 39%
The high school offers the Pennsylvania 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. In 2010 the district received $2,832.00. Under the Pennsylvania Transfer and Articulation Agreement, many Pennsylvania colleges and universities accept these credits for students who transfer to their institutions. The Pennsylvania College Credit Transfer System reported in 2009, that students saved nearly $35.4 million by having their transferred credits count towards a degree under the new system.
- Marching and Concert Band: Pottsville is home to a marching band, concert band, and jazz band.
Pottsville Area High School has a longstanding tradition of football dating back to the days of the Pottsville Maroons. Pottsville Area High School's primary football rival is Reading High School. The two schools compete annually for a trophy known as "The Rock" (in reality a large chunk of coal).
Pottsville's biggest rival for all other sports is Blue Mountain High School, as the two schools are separated by less than five miles and are the two largest schools in Schuylkill County.
- Cross Country
- Swimming and Diving
- Track and Field
- Water Polo
- Cross Country
- Swimming and Diving
- Track and Field
- Water Polo
Girls teams participate under the nickname "Lady Tide"
- "Pottsville Area H S". Retrieved September 19, 2017.
- "Pottsville Area High School". Pottsville Area School District. 2006. Archived from the original on 2006-12-11. Retrieved 2007-01-07.
- Pottsville High School Centennial: 1853-1953, page 4
- Pottsville High School Centennial: 1853-1953, page 4 - 6
- Pottsville High School Centennial: 1853-1953, page 6
- Pottsville High School Centennial: 1853-1953, page 14
- Pottsville High School Centennial: 1853-1953, page 8
- Pottsville High School Centennial: 1853-1953, page 10
- "Cave-ins Menace Pottsville High's Football Stadium". Reading Eagle. Retrieved 15 February 1959. Check date values in:
- "Pottsville High School Planetarium Expected To Be Finished by Fall". Reading Eagle. Retrieved 19 June 1966. Check date values in:
- "Pottsville High School Pupils To Be Greeted by Planetarium". Reading Eagle. Retrieved 7 August 1966. Check date values in:
- "St. Clair School Transfers to Proceed Despite Ruling". Reading Eagle. Retrieved 30 July 1989. Check date values in:
- Pennsylvania Department of Education (January 2009). "Pennsylvania College Remediation Report".
- National Center for Education Statistics
- "Pottsville Area School District Academic Achievement Report Card 2010". Retrieved February 11, 2011.
- Pennsylvania Department of Education (September 14, 2010). "Pottsville Area High School Academic Achievement Report Card".
- The Times-Tribune (June 25, 2009). "Schuylkill County Graduation Rates 2008".
- Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children. "High School Graduation rate 2007". Retrieved January 31, 2011.
- "2010 PSSAs: Reading, Math, Writing and Science Results".
- Pennsylvania Department of Education (September 14, 2010). "2009 PSSAs: Reading, Math, Writing and Science Results".
- "The 2008 PSSA Mathematics and Reading School Level Proficiency Results (by Grade and School Total)". August 2008.
- Pennsylvania Department of Education. "PSSA Math and Reading results by School and Grade 2007".
- "Math PSSA Scores by District 2007-08 Pottsville Area School District Results". The Times-Tribune. June 25, 2009.
- Pennsylvania Department of Education. "Pennsylvania Department of Education - Dual Enrollment Guidelines". Retrieved 2013-05-12.
- "Pennsylvania Transfer and Articulation Agreement". March 2010.
- Pennsylvania Department of Education. (April 29, 2010). "Report: PA College Credit Transfer System Makes Higher Education More Affordable, Accessible".
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Pottsville Area High School.|
- Official website
- Pottsville Area High School - Crimson Tide Football
- Pottsville Area High School Alumni Band
- Pottsville Area High School Band Official Site
- Aerial view of the Pottsville Area High School Campus at WikiMapia.