Early History of Peters Township High School

This account
is from the Peters Township High School 
Dedication Program, April, 11, 1930


"The desire for better educational facilities in Peters township, which had been only partly satisfied by the summer school conducted at Bower Hill and the select school at McMurray and by Jefferson Academy of Canonsburg, brought about the establishment of the Peters township high school in the autumn of 1902. The board of school directors at that time consisted of W. J. Johnston, President; Ben T. Jones, Secretary; William Fawcett, J. Harvey McMurray, and Hall Caseber.

The school began with one teacher and an enrollment which at one time the first year reached twenty-nine, including two girls who were completing in the newly organized school high school courses which they had begun elsewhere. The course was a three-year course, following closely that outlined by the State, giving the school a second class rating. Latin, Algebra, English, Civil Government, Physical Geography. Arithmetic and Bookeeping were taught during the first year; Caesar, Algebra, English History, English Composition and Botany the second year, and Cicero, Plane Geometry, General History, English Literature, and Physics the third year.

At the end of the first year, commencement exercises were held in the Bower Hill school house. Mary Patterson and Emily Matthews, the graduates, sang a duet. Undergraduates furnished the rest of the performances on the program.

During the first two years of its existence, the school was housed in a dwelling owned by H. McMurray, located about one-half mile from McMurray's Mill. The school furniture consisted merely of enough plain kitchen chairs to seat the pupils and a large table which served as a teacher's desk. Half-day sessions only were held, the students reciting continuously during the time they were at school. Home study was the observed rule.

No transportation was furnished by the district, but sheds were provided where students who rode to school might shelter their horses. Attendance was exceptionally good, in spite of the fact that some of the students had long distances to travel and roads were bad. Most of the students walked from one to four miles; some rode horseback; and a few came in buggies. Many interesting stories might be told of the upset cart, the trouser-clad horse, and the interruptions of classes to disentangle Prince from his harness, to round up old Dick after he had broken his hitching strap, and to treat the old gray mare for colic.

In 1904 the school was moved to the new frame building, in which it continued until the present year. The two rooms of this building with the folding doors between them afforded opportunities for enlarged school activities. Tables for students were provided, a flag was raised with appropriate exercises, and a community literary society was organized. No longer could young men call at the back door to try to make dates with the girlsóbecause there was no back door. Agriculture, German, and Vocal Music were later included in the high school course.

The first class to complete the three-year course in Peters township high school was graduated in April, 1905. H. S. Kuder continued as sole teacher of the school from its establishment in 1902 until 1913. In the latter year H. M. Matthews was chosen as a second teacher, Mr. Kuder giving half his time to the supervision of the elementary schools of the township. The next year both these men devoted all their time to the high school and half-day sessions were discontinued.

Athletics among the boys were always encouraged. Football and baseball received some attention, while outdoor basketball furnished delightful recreation for the recess periods through a great part of the year. The greatest success was attained in track and field sports, in which alone the school engaged in interscholastic competition.

In 1915 a change in the administration of the school occurred, H. M. Dalbey being elected principal and Margaret Blair, assistant. Throughout its history the Peters township high school has had a most beneficent influence upon the life of the community. Many of the graduates have gone to college. Several have entered the ministry or the mission field and many others have become teachers. Best of all, it may be said that the men and women who are leaders in the progressive activities of the district are generally included in the list of the alumni of this school."

 


The third Peters Township High School, located approximately where the current  Middle School auditorium is now, opened on January 1, 1930. The High School faculty included J. D. Pease, Principal; H. M. Matthews, Grace Finley, Hazel Patterson, Emily McMurray and H. C. Kerr.




New Auditorium and Gymnasium



New Science Laboratory




Student Body 1929 - 30




The first bus to haul children from Venetia was owned by Thomas McCombs.


Photo courtesy of Nancy Waite-Kahn




From the 1930's, these students are piled on a car
in front of the third Peters Township High School.
sometime in the 1930s.





With teams in both the boys' and girls' divisions, basketball was one of the best supported sports in the high school in the 30's and 40's. In this photo, Miss Reed, the French teacher and girls basketball coach poses with students (L to R) Eleanor Marvin, Rachel Waugh, and Stella McConnell.


Photo courtesy of Eleanor Marvin





Photo courtesy of Eleanor Marvin




Two female members of the 1933 high school staff are photographed with Miss Reed, Mr. H. M. Matthews, Mr. Anthony Williams, and Principal W. S. Luke outside the school building. Notice the students peeking out of the windows behind them.

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