York Town Square

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Should York, Pa.’s, William Penn High School be called York High?

York, Pa.’s, second high school, Old York High, is shown circa 1910 in this photograph from Jim Hubley’s “Off the Record.” The school was located in the second block of West Philadelphia Street, near the York City School District’s present-day administrative building. After serving as a high school, it was used as an elementary building and housed welfare offices before it burned in November 1942, according to Hubley. Also of interest: 1967 William Penn senior class scored York firsts and William Penn Senior High School Hall of Fame honors a host of York County achievers and Promoting York High’s achievers: ‘Grab that and run with it.’

Gary E. Kraybill is a 1959 graduate of William Penn High School and the coordinator of the York High Alumni Association.
And he’s looking for William Penn Senior High School to be referred to consistently as York High.
“Forty-plus years after my graduation, I return home and read and hear about William Penn, and I wonder how kids feel when they read and hear mixed references to the name of their school. I wonder also how the many graduates of York High feel when they read and hear the mixed references,” he wrote in a letter to the editor… .

To which, another grad, Don Bradley, replied in a letter:
“With all of the schools that contain York as part of their official name, we should not be calling William Penn by another other name. My opinion.”
Gary Kraybill’s suggestion is well-intentioned and ably draws community intention to this hugely important community institution. To that extent, let folks hash it out.
It just seems that more must be done with the city’s educational system than incremental, particularly cosmetic, change.
The system is not working, despite the efforts of many able educators. A radical approach is needed, such as carving up the district among its suburban counterparts.
As for the York Daily Record/Sunday News, we’ll follow the path of the school district, calling the school by its official name until it’s changed. Our practice is to follow the lead of the institution issuing the name, irrespective how we feel about it.
Here’s a quick look at the names and fortunes of the four “York High” buildings, drawing, in part, on Jim Hubley’s “Off the Record.”
– High school 1: 220 S. Duke Street, operated 1870-1872. The building stands today.
– High school 2: 134 W. Philadelphia Street, replaced building 1. Burned 1942. After its use as a high school, it was renamed “Old High.”
– High school 3: Corner of College Avenue and Beaver Street. Opened 1899 and operated until William Penn Senior High School opened in 1927. Renamed Hannah Penn Junior High School. Site now serves as a parking lot for St. Patrick’s Church and school. (Not to be confused with Hannah Penn Middle School.)
– High school 4: William Penn High School, added to, remodeled, demolished and rebuilt over the years.
All York Town Square posts from the start. (Key word search by using “find” on browser.)
– Of course, you can always search for York Town Square posts on Google. For example, when you search for yorktownsquare and William Penn Senior High School, you get this.

*Edited, 4/14/11