Schenley High School

Schenley High School is both a public school building and a school program that is being phased out and is slated to close with the graduating class of 2011. Schenley High School is located in the North Oakland neighborhood at the edge of the Hill District of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States. In 2008 the school's staff and students were moved to the former Reizenstein Middle School building. The Schenley High School building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP Reference #86002706). , as well as being listed on the Pittsburgh History and Landmarks Foundation Register, and a contributing property in the Schenley Farms Historic District. The school is also home to two magnet programs: International Baccalaureate and Robotics Technology. Over the next four years, the school will transition into an all International Baccalaureate school, Grades 6-12, named Pittsburgh Obama International Studies Academy in which students will complete the IB Middle Years Programme and the IB Diploma Programme. The school was also a local or neighborhood high school for people living in Oakland, the Hill District and Bloomfield. After Schenley High School's class of 2011 graduates, the historic name will cease to be an active Pittsburgh Public School. With no plans revealed, although protected by historic status the future of the historic Schenley High School building is unknown. The school colors are red and black, and its mascot is the Spartan. Schenley is one of ten high schools in the Pittsburgh Public Schools.


Schenley High School was erected in 1916 and was named for Pittsburgh philanthropist Mary Schenley on whose land the school was built. It was designed by Edward Stotz as a triangle and constructed of Indiana limestone, the best of its kind. The first high school in the United States that cost more than one million dollars to build, Schenley High School became a showplace of the city. The citizens of Pittsburgh were so proud of the building that through public donations, money was raised to present the school with a rare three-manual Skinner pipe organ. Schenley was first opened for students on October 2, 1916, the first enrollment was 1800 students with 70 teachers. By 1921, there were 2391 students and the next year enrollment was 2809. Through the twenties and thirties the enrollment climbed steadily and reached a peak of 3012 students in March 1940.

Transition to Teacher Center
In 1983, Schenley High School underwent an innovative change which placed it in the national limelight and at the forefront of educational development in the United States. The school was rededicated as the Schenley High School Teacher Center, and from 1983 to 1989 it became a center of revitalization for teachers to incorporate the latest research data on teaching the adolescent, as well as an opportunity for teachers to enhance their skills. On September 30, 1986 Schenley High School was placed on the National Register of Historic Places and deemed a contributing property in the Schenley Farms Historic District In 1987, a new wing was added to the building; it houses the new physical education facilities, including a regulation-sized gymnasium, a larger swimming pool, dressing rooms and an office area.

In June 2008, due to severe internal maintenance problems, Pittsburgh Public Schools Superintendent Mark Roosevelt proposed to close Schenley High School to avoid an extremely high renovation bill. This led to public opposition by students and historical organizations that insisted the building was well worth the money. After months of debate the school board voted 5 to 4 to close Schenley High School after the 2008-2009 school year. The staff and student body were moved to the Pittsburgh Reizenstein Middle School facility, which had been closed a few years prior. The freshman, sophomore, and senior students who were enrolled in Pittsburgh Schenley at the time of its closure will be allowed to graduate as Schenley alumni until the last class graduates in June 2011, thereby ending 95 years of remarkable educational history.

Building Features
After its construction Schenley High School was noted for its remarkable design features, in today's standards it was considered a Green Building ahead of its time. Schenley High School was designed as a naturally ventilated school. Not only was each classroom given large quantities of fresh air through tall double-hung windows, corridors and stairs, lunchrooms and gyms, even the auditorium could be naturally ventilated. Schenley was also designed for daylit classrooms, daylit corridors and stairs, daylit cafeteria, and even a daylit theater for practice periods, with blackout shades for events. Schenley was also known for having "passive survivability". In emergencies the school has the most reliable conditioning systems"daylighting, natural ventilation, gravity-fed heating, and the most amazing fresh air distribution system hidden in the corridor walls.

Alma Mater
Today the Schenley Alma Mater has been shortened to the first verse, however the full Alma Mater is used at some times it was written in 1932 by a school English teacher. Alma Mater, God preserve thee Dear Schenley High! Through the years, we hope to serve thee, Dear Schenley High! We revere the spirit taught there, Rev'rent minds that lived and thought there Mem'ries of our Alma Mater, Dear Schenley High! Alma Mater, Her we cherish Dear Schenley High! May all evil gainst her perish, Dear Schenley High! In the air on land, or water, God preserve each son and daughter Guard traditions years have brought her, Dear Schenley High!

Academically Schenley High has been a historically strong school, for the past 30 years usually maintaining the spot of the second highest performing high school in the district. In the 2010 PSSA's Schenley scored well above the district average in both reading and math.

Schenley Sports
In the past Schenley was well known for its basketball team which was a powerhouse in the 70's earing several state titles. Schenley held PIAA Class AAAA state champion in 2007, and was five time Pittsburgh City League Champions from 2003-08. Schenly was also widely known for its track team which has won 9 championships in the past 10 years. In the 2009-10 School year Schnely won 9 City Championships. Schenley High School currently has 16 varsity teams made up of the Schenley seniors and the Obama freshman, sophomore, and junior students. The varsity sports currently include:
  • Boys Basketball
  • Girls Basketball
  • Football
  • Boys Soccer
  • Girls Soccer
  • Tennis
  • Golf
  • Boys Swimming
  • Girls Swimming
  • Cross Country
  • Girls Volleyball
  • Boys Volleyball
  • Wrestling
  • Baseball
  • Softball
  • Track and Field

Schenley High is known for its school musicals and plays. In 1916, the year the school opened, it hosted its first play titled "A Thousand Years Ago." Sadly, there was a lack of sponsorship in the 50's, putting an end to these shows. Since 1972, the school has performed 40 consecutive musicals(with a 40th anniversary show scheduled for the 2010-2011 school year), most of them notably under the direction of the theatre and english teacher, the late Roger Babusci. The Schenley musicals are usually known to be some of the best in the city. The school has won many Gene Kelly awards for the program. This 2009 musical was "You're a Good Man Charlie Brown", the performance was nominated for 10 Gene Kelly Awards and won four, including "Best Musical" in budget category one. The 2011 40th Anniversary Schenley spring musical will be Seussical, with performance dates unannounced.

Schenley High School also publishes a monthly newspaper called "The Triangle" in reference to the original building's shape. The paper was founded in 1919 and has produced an issue every month for the 92 years since.

Notable alumni
  • Derrick Bell - Harvard Law School's first African American professor
  • George Benson - Jazz/R&B Musician
  • Liz Berlin - singer, Rusted Root
  • DeJuan Blair " Playing for the NBA's San Antonio Spurs.
  • Larry Brown - Washington Redskins running back
  • Ray Brown - jazz musician
  • Darnell Dinkins - Cleveland Browns tight end
  • Ken Durrett - Retired NBA basketball player
  • Walt Harper - jazz musician
  • Shawn Hawkins - professional basketball player
  • DJ Kennedy- current St. John's University Basketball Player/>
  • Maurice Lucas - former NBA all-star
  • Bob Prince - sportscaster for the Pittsburgh Pirates
  • Vivian Reed - singer
  • Bruno Sammartino - professional wrestling's "living legend"
  • Clifford Shull - Nobel laureate
  • Ted Stepien - Controversial owner of Cleveland Cavaliers
  • Darrick Suber - Rider University's all-time scoring leader with 2,219 points
  • Stanley Turrentine - jazz musician
  • Andy Warhol - artist
  • Bill Nunn - actor

There are 31 people who comprise the final group of teachers, administrators and staff of Schenley High School, including:
  • Sophia Facaros, principal
  • Mary Ellen McMahon, school secretary
  • Joseph Ehman, activities director
  • Devin Browne, IB coordinator

As the school is being phased out it currently only serves Grade 12, which includes the International Studies/International Baccalaureate and Technological Studies magnet programs. As of October, 2010 Schenley has 170 students enrolled, with demographics as follows:
  • African American 117 (68.82%)
  • White 39 (22.94%)
  • Multi-racial 6 (3.53%)
  • Asian 3 (1.76%)
  • Hispanic 5 (2.94%)
  • Native American 0 (0.00%)
  • Male 77 (45.29%)
  • Female 93 (54.71%)

Recent honors
Schenley's boys' basketball team is the PIAA Class AAAA state champion of 2007. In 2008 (as in the last four years), the Spartans were the Pittsburgh City League Champions. The Spartans won boys and girls soccer City League Champions, and The City League Football title in the 2009-2010 school year, The Spartans also won the City swim championship for the first time since 1956. The school has also won a PSMLA Golden Globe award for its world language program for the 2009-2011 school years. On October 2, Schenley High School celebrated its 95th Anniversary since its first day of classes in 1916. Recently the Schenley Lady Spartans soccer team and girls volleyball each won their 4th consecutive City Championship. In honnor of the girls soccer teams fourth and final Schenley High win the Pittsburgh City Council declared November 30, 2010 Schenley High School Girls Soccer Day.

Year Musical Director 2011 Seussical Ms. Kelly McKrell 2010 You're a Good Man Charlie Brown Ms. Kelly McKrell 2009 Return to the Forbidden Planet Ms. Kelly McKrell 2008 All Shook Up Ms. Kelly McKrell 2007 Leader of the Pack Ms. Kelly McKrell 2006 Joseph and the Technicolor Dreamcoat Mr. Roger Babusci 2005 Grease Mr. Roger Babusci 2004 Smookey Joe's Cafe Mr. Roger Babusci 2003 Lucky in the Rain Mr. Roger Babusci 2002 The Melody Lingers On Mr. Roger Babusci 2001 Once on this Island Mr. Roger Babusci 2000 Once upon a Mattress Mr. Roger Babusci 1999 The Wiz Mr. Roger Babusci 1998 Anything Goes Mr. Roger Babusci 1997 Leader of the Pack Mr. Roger Babusci 1996 West Side Story Mr. Roger Babusci 1995 Bubblin' Brown Sugar Mr. Roger Babusci 1994 Once on this Island Mr. Roger Babusci 1993 Guys and Dolls Mr. Roger Babusci 1992 Ain't Misbehavin' Mr. Roger Babusci 1991 The All Night Strut Mr. Roger Babusci 1990 Pippin Mr. Roger Babusci 1989 A Chorus Line Mr. Roger Babusci 1988 The Wiz Mr. Roger Babusci 1987 Leader of the Pack Mr. Roger Babusci 1986 Anything Goes Mr. Roger Babusci 1985 Grease Mr. Roger Babusci 1984 Barnum Mr. Roger Babusci 1983 Ain't Misbehavin Mr. Roger Babusci 1982 West Side Story Mr. Roger Babusci 1981 Bubblin' Brown Sugar Mr. Roger Babusci 1980 The Wiz Mr. Roger Babusci 1979 Pippin Mr. Roger Babusci 1978 Bye Bye Birdie Mr. Roger Babusci 1977 The Pajama Game Mr. Roger Babusci 1976 Guys and Dolls Mr. Roger Babusci 1975 Purlie Mr. Roger Babusci 1974 Tambourines to Glory Mr. Roger Babusci 1973 To be Young, Gifted and Black Mr. Roger Babusci 1972 Five on the Blackhand Side Mr. Roger Babusci


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