In the late 1800’s the children of Shenango Township, Lawrence County, Pennsylvania, were served by a host of small schoolhouses. It was not until the early 1920’s that the decision was made by the Shenango Township school board to build a large consolidated school to centralize many of the children.
In May 1926 plans were finalized for the new school, designed by architect Albert L. Thayer, to be located on Old Pittsburgh Road near where it meets Savannah Road. Construction got underway later that summer. The three-story school would feature nineteen classrooms, multiple administrative offices, and a combined gymnasium-auditorium that could seat 750 students. A brief delay in construction was encountered in October 1926 as the carpenters and steel workers got into a dispute about the direction of the work.
The large brick building, known as the Shenango Township Consolidated School, opened for classes on Monday, August 29, 1927. At the time it was one of largest consolidated schools in the entire country, housing 654 pupils (in grades one through ten) drawn from nine different schoolhouses in the area. The Clifton Flats and East New Castle Schools each contributed over 120 students each, while the McCaslin, Zehner, Warnock, McKee, Brown, Savannah, and Cunningham Schools provided the reminder of the student body. Another 210 pupils continued to attend other schools in the township at the Shenango-Taylor Township Consolidated School or the smaller Hill, Orville, Boyd, or Connor schoolhouses.
The new school, like all others in the township, was under the overall direction of Prof. Clare B. Book, the Supervising Principal of all Shenango Township schools who previously served as a teacher in nearby West Pittsburg. Glenn W. “Pop” Johnston served as the first principal of the Shenango High School, which at the time consisted of grades nine and ten. Book left the school in 1932 to become the Assistant Superintendent of Lawrence County Schools and later served as the longtime principal of New Castle High School until he retired in 1960. Johnston succeeded Book as Supervising Principal of Shenango Township schools in 1932 and served in that position until 1958.
The consolidated school underwent periodic remodeling over the years to keep it as modern as possible. In 1957 the school board authorized construction of a new Shenango Junior-Senior High School, to be built on Route 65 and directly behind the consolidated school. In the fall of 1959, when the new high school opened, the consolidated school was renamed as the Shenango Elementary School and now housed grades one through six.
In November 1970 the Shenango Elementary School underwent a $1.7 million upgrade that saw a new section (including ten classrooms and a gymnasium) added to the building and a complete renovation of the old section. During the renovation the kids in grades one through five stayed in place while the sixth graders attended J. P. Byers Elementary School in South New Castle Boro until the “new” school was completely opened for classes in August 1972.
With the closing of J. P. Byers Elementary School in June 1972 the Shenango Elementary and Shenango Junior-Senior High buildings were the only remaining schools within the Shenango Area School District. The Shenango Elementary School, led by head principal Joseph McCormick, is still in use as of 2011 and home to about 700 students in grades one through six.
Among the most distinquished alumni of the Shenango Township Consolidated School is 1946 high school graduate Charles “Chuck” Tanner, who played major league baseball from 1955-1962 and is most known for managing the Pittsburgh Pirates to a World Series Championship in 1979. In 2004 the baseball field at the new Shenango Junior-Senior High School was dedicated as Chuck Tanner Field in his honor. A four-sided, five-foot-tall pillar, detailing different aspects of Tanner’s sporting achievements, was also erected nearby. Tanner passed away on February 11, 2011 and was remembered as one of New Castle’s most beloved residents.
An overhead view of the Shenango Twnp Consolidated School from c1938.
The junior class photo from the 1934-35 school year – the future graduates of 1936. Margaret Shaffer is listed as class president, while Harvey Ketzel is vice president. (1934) Full Size
A group of seniors from the Class of 1935. From top left its Olga Roman, Jack Shaffer, and Alec Sroczynski – from bottom left its Harold Styers, Lillie Tindall, and Andy Zak. Sroczynski, an aspiring aviator, was killed in a plane crash just a few years later. Click here to read about it: CASTLEWOOD PLANE CRASH. (1934) Full Size
The staff of the “Shenango Weekly” – the school newspaper. The student group was supervised by Margaret Cowmeadow, the English teacher and librarian, and Vera Barker, the Latin teacher. (1934) Full Size
The boys basketball squad of 1934-35, coached by science teacher Ed Raney. The team finished with a record of 13-2 against teams from Wampum, Union Twnp, Evans City, Eastbrook, Mt. Jackson, New Wilmington, and Bessemer. The team ended up in second place in the County League, with a late season loss to New Wilmington (score of 28-27) preventing a first place finish. (1935) Full Size
The junior class photo from the 1937-38 school year. Included among the student surnames are Booher, Kennedy, Mooney, McConahy, Pavlich, Pitzer, Stolitca, and Woloszyn.
The tenth grade class of Shenango High School during the 1937-38 school year.
The Shen-Hi football team of the 1940-41 school year was led by senior co-captains Bob Denny and John Dudash. Head coach Frank Nocera is pictured at the far right top.
The Shenango Township Consolidated School in 1949, ten years before the new Shenango High School was built on property right behind it. (1949) Full Size
The seventh graders from the 1948-49 school year. These eighty or so kids formerly attended sixth grade at either this same school or the Castlewood School. (1948) Full Size
This photo, which depicts a group of seniors, was taken from page 17 of the 1949 Tomahawk yearbook. Full Size
A junior class photo from the 1950-51 school year. Full Size
The high school band from 1950-51. Full Size
The Squad Leaders Club, a girl’s group under the supervision of Mrs. Ann Earl, sponsored a Mardi Gras dance during early 1951.
I believe this is a group shot of the entire Shenango High senior class from the 1950-51 school year.
A bus parked alongside the school c1950.
The starting lineup of the 1950-51 varsity basketball team. From left its Champ, senior Johnny Allen, Feil, Badger, and senior Charles “Angie” Morrone. This team finished with a total record of 7-11.
The footballers that represented Shen-Hi in late 1950. The teamed led by head coach Ed Nahas (top left) and assistants Thomas Sovensky and John Susko (top right). The team was led by offensive stars in quarterback Angie Morrone (#93), halfback Johnny Allen (#94), and fullback Fritz Duckworth (#90). The undersized team played with heart but finished with a record of 1-5. Full Size
A collage of photos from the 1950 football season. The Shen-Hi varsity boys defeated New Bethlehem to kick off the gridiron season, but lost the next five games to Leetsdale, Bessemer, Zelienople, Union, and Evans City. Full Size
A modern view of the school, which underwent a major modification in the early 1970s. (Jul 2011)
A view of a walkway addition built onto front of the school. (Jul 2011)
The modern Shenango Elementary School on Old Pittsburgh Road. (Mar 2013) Full Size
The side of the school, which shows some of the additions made to the rear. (Jul 2011)
A distant view of the rear of the old school. (Jul 2011)