News Tyrone Daily Herald Archives

The story of The Tyrone school system

More than a century ago, that towering French Statesman and Novelist Victor Hugo noted that “He Who Opens A School House Door Closes A Prison.” 155 years ago in 1852, even as Mr. Hugo penned his novels, Tyrone Pioneers opened the door on an 18 by 20 foot Log Cabin School House at East Twelfth and Railroad Streets in this town. Five years later in 1857, these same Community Pioneers erected A Jail House, beside The First School House! Little did these Tyrone Ancestors realize that The School System they established in that one room Log Cabin next to A Jail House would flourish through its CHILDHOOD, CHANGES, CHALLENGES, and CHOICES to become one of The Finest School Districts in The State, with 1,900 students, across 167 square miles of land.
The School District’s
By 1854, Community Leaders replaced their First Log Cabin School with a two story white brick School House on the same site. In 1866, The People Of Tyrone built Logan Grammar School (Grades 1 to 8) on land now occupied by The Sheetz Store. Finally, in 1877, Tyrone Taxpayers attached four class rooms to Logan School and christened them Tyrone High School. Each room of this Earliest High School housed one grade level 9 through 12. Business Classes operated out of The Pruner Building, near what is now Fink Brother’s Hardware Store. On an afternoon in May Of 1881, in Room 8 of Logan School, five students, a few parents and friends gathered for Tyrone’s First Graduation Ceremony. The Class Valedictorian delivered a Speech entitled “Success.” Not until 1886 would another class graduate from “Dear Young Tyrone High.”
In 1911, on land purchased from Mr. Frank Waring along Lincoln Avenue, the Citizens of this Community elected to build Tyrone’s Second High School, for the grand total of $48,000. Constructed of Pompeian Brick and landscaped with a terraced lawn, this building boasted a bubbling fountain, busts of Lincoln and Washington, and Club Portraits on its First Floor. A 336-Seat Auditorium occupied The Second Floor and became the center for Daily Chapel Services, Glee Club Concerts, and Speech Team Debates. Since The School Principal taught a full day of classes, he had no office. Tyrone’s School Superintendent had an office in this building, while his Secretary doubled as The School Librarian. Probably at a table in The Library of this Second Tyrone High School, Junior Josephine Derr Hite penned The School Alma Mater in 1925.
In 1929, responding to New Pennsylvania Philosophies Of Education, The People Of Tyrone built a New Junior High School, attached to The 1911 Lincoln Avenue Senior High School. The Tyrone Junior High School Of 1929 boasted a Gymnasium. When The School System began Physical Education Classes in this New Gym, citizens protested the use of scarce tax dollars for “exercise classes.” In response, The School District established Spring Field Days at Gray Memorial Field (built in 1933) as A Public Relations Effort to soothe taxpayers disgruntled by The New Gymnasium. Enchanted by the remarkable Building Expansion, probably few citizens foresaw The Economic Depression clouding the horizon. As The Depression Of The 1930’s deepened, all Tyrone School District Employees consented to a ten percent reduction in salaries so that Tyrone Banks would provide desperately needed School Loans to keep The Educational Program operating during these dark days, as the clouds of World War II gathered on the horizon.
Following The Close Of World War II in 1945, The Tyrone School System embarked on an energetic enterprise of Course Expansion. During The War, Tyrone’s Vocational Department had operated 24 hours a day to aid in The Industrial War Effort. In 1945, Tyrone became The First School System in Pennsylvania to add Kindergarten Classes to its Elementary Grades. Formal General Music Courses also arrived. At The Lincoln Avenue High School, Vocational Courses in Carpentry, Electricity and Radio, Home Economics, Machine Shop, and Car Mechanics occupied The School Basement. Auto Shop even had a Special Sky-Light Roof erected over its Class, held in The Inside School Courtyard. During this Era Of Course Expansion, the Tyrone Schools also led The State in Health Classes, Homebound Instruction, and Driver’s Education.
In addition to Course Expansion, School Building Renovation and Construction also energized The Tyrone School System in The Golden Days after World War II. Tyrone Taxpayers renovated Washington Elementary School on Park Avenue, constructed Oak Ridge School in Bald Eagle, and replaced both Logan and Adams Elementary Schools during The 1950’s. Ultimately, these Tyrone School System Building Efforts would culminate in the construction of Tyrone’s Third High School in 1961 — a $4,300,000 Model Pennsylvania High School, along Clay Avenue. With its Spacious Library and Courtyard, 1200-Chair Auditorium equipped with A Baldwin Model 5A Organ, 3600-Seat Gymnasium, Olympic Style Swimming Pool, Foreign Language Laboratory, Large Cafeteria, and Comprehensive In-House Vocational Department, this High School offered concrete testimony to Tyrone Citizens’ Respect for Education. Furthermore, with this Third High School, Tyrone Students no longer would attend any classes in Two Annex Overflow Houses, next to The 1911 High School. They now could graduate from The Tyrone Area High School Auditorium, instead of from The Y.M.C.A.., or from The Wilson Theatre.
After High School Students departed their Second 1911 / 1929 Building along Lincoln Avenue for their New 1961 High School along Clay Avenue, The School System spent $425,000 to remodel and convert The Lincoln Avenue Edifice into a Modern Elementary School that eventually would house students from Grazierville, Washington, Oak Ridge, and Warriors Mark Schools, when those beloved buildings closed their doors and faded into the mists of history. Following the miraculous School Building Renovation and Construction after World War II, yet another School Miracle occurred in Tyrone — The School District liquidated all its Building Debts by 1971.
The School District’s Changes
Engrossed by The Building Construction and Renovation inside their School System, in December Of 1970, Tyrone Citizens found themselves surprised by several outside Community Changes that ultimately would challenge the inner well-being of The Tyrone Schools — Factory Down-Sizing, Highway Construction, and Government Apartment Building. As The Winter Of 1970 opened, Tyrone’s Paper Mill Factory downsized greatly, leaving 550 workers without employment. This Community Change necessitated that Mill Executives and their families would relocate in other parts of The Country. In later decades, just like The Paper Mill, The Big Yank Clothing Factory (established in 1933) and The Chicago Rivet (established in 1947) would downsize or close their doors forever. Many laborers displaced from downsizing sought employment at Penn State University, PPG, or other Businesses outside The Community. At the same time, The State Highway Department commenced construction on Interstate Highway 99. This construction eliminated many homes along Tenth Street, as well as along Bald Eagle and Blair Avenues. This Industrial Downsizing and Home Elimination meant that vital sectors of The Tyrone School System Tax Base evaporated — forever!
As Factory Down-Sizing and Highway Construction enveloped The Community throughout The 1980’s, Government Funded Apartments began to appear across The Tyrone Landscape. These powerful Factory, Transportation, and Housing Influences, along with The Rise Of Shopping Centers around Central Pennsylvania, contributed to The Decline Of Tyrone’s Business District, which gradually decayed into A Ghost-Town Of Empty Storefronts. Yet in this New Century, Tyrone Citizens have begun to resurrect their Business District, with New Sidewalks, New Street Lamps, New Trees, New Businesses, and A Revitalized Paper Mill. The Community Long Range Plan also suggests a Hotel to house travelers who might arrive when I-99 reaches completion.
The School District’s
Without a doubt, many of The Challenges The Tyrone School System confronted in The Classroom In The 1980’s had their roots in The Changes that had encircled The Community in The 1970’s. Lost Jobs, Lost Homes, Lost Businesses, A Declining and Changing Town Population, and Deteriorating Families combined to create A School Population in Academic, Economic, and Social Need. At one moment, Tyrone School Directors sought to address these inequalities by Re-Structuring The Elementary Schools with Different Grades in Different Elementary Buildings, but with little Community Support. Thankfully, in The Final Analysis, Tyrone School Directors evaluated these Community Challenges and then made A Controversial Choice destined to transform Education In Tyrone throughout The 21st Century — They consolidated Tyrone’s Elementary, Middle, and High School Buildings onto one Central Public School Campus, along Clay Avenue.
The School District’s Choices
Because The Tyrone School System virtually had remained debt-free from 1971 until 1997, The District accumulated Capital Cash Reserves that School Directors chose to use for building A Central Elementary School Building on Old Athletic Fields, adjacent to The 1961 High School Building. At a cost of about 13 million dollars, this 1999 Tyrone Elementary School, holding 800 younger students, would enable The School System to close Adams, Lincoln, Logan, and Warriors Mark Schools, and to house Younger Tyrone Students in One Central Elementary Building, with The Staff and The Supplies nearby, In particular, the centrally located Staff adequately could address the growing Special Needs Population, as well as assist adults struggling as Parents.
Furthermore, this New Central Elementary School permitted The District to offer a completely Coordinated Curriculum, delivered through a variety of Teaching Styles. In addition, one Central Tyrone Elementary School allowed The School System the opportunity to consolidate its Technology Resources and thereby impart Computer and Internet Skills to The Younger Generation. Ultimately, all of these Elementary School Efforts combined to create a healthy and safe environment devoid of crisis, with Student Learning under girded on the foundation of The Pennsylvania Academic Standards.
While The New Central Elementary School rose slowly and triumphantly on The Old Baseball and Softball Fields, The School System also chose to inaugurate a 10 Million Dollar Renewal Of Tyrone’s 1961 High School with Furnace, Electrical and Window Renovations, as well as Vocational Department and Technology Enhancements. With this Renewal Project completed, Tyrone Area High School stood poised to provide its 650 students with A Learning Environment that valued Academic Rigor, Artistic and Athletic Achievement, Community Service, Career Preparation, and Close Individualized Relationships between Teachers and Students. Both Athletic and Artistic Achievement blossomed in this Renovated High School as The 1999 Football Team won A State Championship, and The Marching Band continued to bring home its trophies.
Thankfully, The Construction Bids for The Central Elementary Building and The High School Renewal came in three million dollars lower than expected. That Pleasant Financial Surprise motivated Tyrone School Directors to utilize the extra three million as “Seed Money” for The School District’s Concluding Building Project — An Authentic Tyrone Middle School.
Completed at a cost of 10 Million Dollars for The 2006-2007 School Term, Tyrone’s Middle School now houses Grades 5 through Grades 8. This Middle School contains a Full Size Gymnasium (to help The High School Gym accommodate increasing numbers of sports teams) as well as New Classrooms, Cafeteria, Video Production Room, Art Room, and Computer Room. For the 650 students who occupy desks in it, Tyrone’s Middle School combines High Academic Expectations, A Nurturing Student Environment, Core and Enrichment Classes, Interdisciplinary Team Teaching, Activity Periods, and Inclusion for Special Needs in the hope that The Academic, Physical, Social, and Emotional Needs of its students will find fulfillment there. With the transfer of Fifth Grade to this New Middle School, The Tyrone School System now realizes another of its Long Range Dreams — The Establishment Of An Early Childhood Center, One of the very few in The State, Tyrone’s Early Childhood Center services more than 150 three and four year olds. It has been designated on The Federal Registry as A Premier Child Center to visit.
155 years have come and gone since Tyrone Pioneers opened this Community’s First School House Door near A Jail and thereby closed many Prisons Of Ignorance. Now as Tyrone High celebrates its 123rd Graduation Ceremonies in this Year 2007, it seems fitting to recite this 1936 Poem By British Head Master Cyril Alington as A Tribute Of Thanks: School, You Have Brought Us To Our Journey’s End / Once More To You Our Grateful Thanks Ascend / Once More We Stand To Praise You For The Past / Grant That Our Thanks And Praise Be Honest To The Last / If We Have Learned To Feel Our Neighbor’s Need / To Fight For Truth, In Thought, And Word, And Deed / If These Are Lessons Which The Years Have Brought / We Thank You School, For What You To Us Have Taught!