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Pennsylvania Avenue High School, Cumberland, 1928 yearbook

In the early 1900s the Virginia Avenue School was the only school in South Cumberland. When that section of the city began to grow, the school board recognized the need for another facility. In 1909, the board of education purchased a lot on the corner of Pennsylvania Avenue and Second Street and the construction of an eight-room elementary school building was begun. The following September the building was completed and ready for occupancy. At first the new building was considered a part of Virginia Avenue School and John Tipton divided his time between the Penn Avenue and Virginia Avenue facilities serving as principal of both.

In 1914, the first addition to the school was built, and Mr. Scott was appointed principal, followed by Orville Boughton, in 1915. In 1916, the north wing was added, and the next year the basement rooms were finished and used. 

By November 1924, due to the rapid growth of the population in this community, work was begun on a new building which extended to South Street, and included an auditorium which connected the two buildings. The new building became the Elementary Department, and the old building the Junior and Senior High Schools. In 1925 the ninth and tenth grades were added to the school. Victor D. Heisey became the principal of the High School, Mr. Boughton remained as principal of the Junior High and Miss Higgins principal of the Elementary School.

Again in 1927 it was necessary to enlarge the building, and two three-room wings were added to the High School and four rooms to the Elementary building. But the next year all these rooms were in use and the basement rooms were still being used as classrooms. And the school was still growing. By 1928 there were 23 faculty members and about 740 students.

Pennsyvlania Avenue School
Pennsyvlania Avenue School,
Postcard Courtesy of Albert and Angela Feldstein

The 1928 graduating class of 25 students was the first class to complete its education at the school. Their yearbook, The Quill, is included here. Since they were a small class, the same student names seem to appear in many different categories, and the teachers were advisors to multiple organizations.

By 1936, Pennsylvania Avenue School graduated its largest class of 108 students. It was also in June of that year the high school closed with the fall opening of the recently completed Fort Hill High School. The school then reverted to an elementary school. In 1979 the new South Penn Elementary school was constructed. The building was later used by a church group, and in 1990 part of the old school building on Pennsylvania Avenue was demolished. The remainder is now the Penn Ave. Day Care Center.

Thanks to Dr AuMiller, Superintendent, Allegany County Public Schools who gave permission for this text to be digitized; James Manges for the gift of the yearbook to the South Cumberland Library and Lisa Broll, Al Feldstein, Steve Wilson and Sherry Zembower of South Penn Elementary School, Ed Wagus and the Cumberland Times-News, for providing the history of the school. The article "Penn Avenue High School, 1928-1936", Cumberland Sunday Times, August 10, 1986, provided much of the information..

Western Maryland Regional Library
100 South Potomac Street
Hagerstown, Maryland 21740

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