More memories of past schools

Carole Haller of Spring Garden Township shared this photo of the front of the former Mount Rose Elementary School. She said she took photos when her daughter, Susan, began her school days there. “Mount Rose Elementary School consisted of two buildings,” she wrote. “The lower grades were housed in the older building facing Mount Rose Avenue and the upper grades, through sixth grade, were in the former high school building that faced Ogontz Street and was located across a playground, in back of the older building. When the older building was demolished in the summer of 1978, all of the students were combined in the remaining building on Ogontz Street. After the 1982 school year, Mount Rose School was closed and students transferred to other schools in the York Suburban School District. The remaining building, still standing, was bought and is being used by a church.”

One of the things I enjoyed most during my time with the York Daily Record was being part of the publication of a book documenting some of the many one-room schools of York County. It was an amazing project that I worked on with longtime correspondent and friend Barb Krebs and YDR editor Jim McClure. As part of a project I’m working on, I was browsing through our photo archive a couple of weeks ago, and enjoyed turning up many old school pictures.

That made me think it was probably time for a column sharing more memories of York County’s former schools! If you’d like to read much, much more on the topic of one-room schools in particular, I highly suggest Stephen H. Smith’s YorksPast blog, starting at yorkblog.com/yorkspast/schoolhouses.

Mount Rose School

I’m digging in to some of my oldest unpublished letters today, and this first one came more than a year and a half ago from Darrell E. Hoffman, who was writing in response to a past column on Mount Rose Elementary.

Darrell wrote, “I began there in 1952 in kindergarten. On the school lot off to the right and behind… were two buildings used for the kindergarten and one for storage and at times to show movies in. Also there was another one to the left that housed the wood/metal shop for the junior high, off Ogontz street.”

He continued, “After kindergarten I attended six years in the school. On the first floor were two rooms of first grade, one for second and one for third. On the second floor were four more, housing two for fourth, one for fifth and one for sixth. In the front of the building, up a small staircase, was a room used for the school nurse and the master clock for the bell system. Restrooms were down in the basement and later there was another classroom, for music and I think also for third grade.”

Darrell went on, “The school on Ogontz was at the time known as Mount Rose Junior High. This was seventh through ninth. Students in 10th to 12th grades went to William Penn in the city. As I said before, I spent grades 1 through 6 in that building, and then moved to the new York Suburban High on Hollywood Drive… My class was the first and one of three classes to do all six years at Suburban.”

Finally, he recalled, “The two trees in front of the old school are still standing. Yes, they are the same as when all of us kids went there. Fun thought for those my age. Remember the candy shoe at the end of the alley that we somehow called ‘The Slop Shop’?”

Darrell, thank you so much for sharing those memories – and my apologies that it has taken me so long to revisit this topic!

York Academy of Arts

Moving to a post-high-school institution, I also have a letter to share today about the York Academy of Arts, which reader Ray Schreiber asked about in a 2017 column.

I had mentioned that this school, founded in 1952, later became Bradley Academy for the Visual Arts (in 1988) and then The Art Institute of York (in 2003).

Reader Connie Pickard wrote to add another name for that list. She says, “I worked there from 1973 until 1984. When I left it was Antonelli Institute of Art & Photography.”

She continued, “Bill and Katie Falker owned York Academy of Arts, and after much soul-searching made the decision to close the school in 1982. A group of instructors went to Lancaster and opened Pennsylvania College of Art and Design. The Falklers received an offer from Antonelli Schools out of Philadelphia… decision was made to sell school to them. That was in June 1982. They set up a new program over the summer months and were able to offer an associate degree, something York Academy of Arts could not. Some of the students stayed at Antonelli Institue and others went to the new school in Lancaster.”

She concluded, “I left in January 1984 with a job offer closer to home. Antonelli sold in 1988 and Bradley Academy was started. I enjoyed working at YAA. Lots of hard work and lots of fun. The staff and students made it all worthwhile.”

Connie, thank you so much for adding to the history of that school! Greatly appreciated.

York city schools

Some time ago, a reader had written asking about information on York’s city schools of the past. In a 2017 column, reader LoAnn Clark shared the results of some work she did at the York County History Center, in which she was able to find a list of 20 or more schools operating in the 1954-55 school year.

Following that, reader Doug Charleston of Gettysburg wrote to ask for additional information, including when various schools were built, when they were closed, what the teachers’ salaries were, and what, if any, test scores might be available. “I know it may be difficult to gather that information, but I thought I’d ask,” he said.

Doug, I don’t know of any way to get that information from a single official source, but if there are any readers out there who have details pertaining to a specific school, I hope they will share!

Noell School

Finally for today comes a letter from Joann Hano about the Noell school in York. Joann wrote, “If readers were not familiar with Noell, the building still exists on East College Avenue. It is no longer a school but a recycled building. It was named after the first mayor of York, who was Daniel Noell. He was mayor from 1887 to 1893.”

She continued, “I remember my grandmother, who was born in the early 1880s and is long gone, telling me how Mayor Noell would visit the school named after him and pat all of the children on the head. It was a great memory for her.”

Joann said, “My next memory of that Noell School came from 1964. I began my first teaching job in fourth grade at Noell. That old building had big classrooms with huge glass windows. You needed a long pole with a metal knob at the top to just open a window. It was expected that I had to teach every subject including art, music and physical education in my own classroom. Yep, as a graduate from Millersville State Teachers’ College, and a York City teacher, you were trained in all subjects.”

She also added, “What I wasn’t expecting at Noell at that time was a TV in my classroom. Every week there were science lessons presented by city teachers on that TV. Here’s the other surprise… French! Yes, French was taught in all fourth through sixth grades. Students would say ‘bonjour’ each morning. Who would believe that today?”

And, she concluded, “If those walls of Noell School could talk, I bet there would be more stories like mine.”

I would bet so, Joann, and thank you for sharing your memories with us!

Have questions or memories to share? Email me at joan@joanconcilio.com or write to Ask Joan, York Daily Record/Sunday News, 1891 Loucks Road, York PA 17408. We cannot accept any phone calls with questions or information.

About Joan Concilio

My name is Joan and I'm a lifelong Yorker. Throughout high school and college, I swore I was getting out of here as soon as possible. Now, a few years later, I can't think of anywhere I'd rather be. I love my town, and I hear every day from readers who love their towns, too. So please, connect with me and let's share what makes life in York County great. I'm here to help you enjoy this place as much as I do!
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