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Pieces of the Past — High in Air

February 21, 2024

I remember sitting in Chorus class in 7th grade and learning the Alma Mater song for the high school. We sang: HIGH IN AIR THY SPIRES ARE TOWERING… I don’t remember whose hand shot up but one student asked: “What are SPIRES?”

The teacher calmly explained that spires are like steeples. The kid (it was a boy) raised his hand a second time and said, “I have been to the high school and have never seen spires up there!” Of course the teacher took a deep breath and explained that the spires were on the old high school. The hand went up one more time, “maybe they outta change the song”! That brought on a good laugh.

I was in 6th grade the year that the current high school opened for business. The building on the corner of Second and Market held its final classes on Wednesday, Dec. 23, 1959. My sister DeAnne was a part of the last and the first class to attend both.

The Warren High located on Market and Second Streets replaced a “technical” school that was located on the corner of 3rd and Hickory. The building had a few characteristics that resembled today’s Warren Municipal Building. It wasn’t nearly big enough to handle the student population. Construction of that Warren High began in 1896. “Area” was not in the name back then. In fact, only kids from the borough of Warren were to go there. Clarendon, Starbrick, Sugar Grove, Wrightsville, Lottsville, Spring Creek, Bear Lake and Columbus all had their own schools.

By the end of 1897 Warren high was complete. Three floors of classrooms were in use. In a celebration of the life of perhaps the most loved principal to serve Warren, Joseph Pizzaro, I learned that the flood of ’56 led to the only day the school was closed. That day, Beaty, Jefferson Street, McClintock and East Street were also closed. Lacy, South Street, and Home Street were all high and dry! In fact, one of the reasons today’s high school is where it is is to keep it out of the water! With the old high school not a single day ended up as a snow day. Imagine that!

My Dad, a 1939 grad of Warren High and my sister would often talk about the building. How my Dad used to claim he could feel the 3rd floor sway when a good gust of wind hit it. How much of that was old fashioned “bull” we’ll never know. By 1959 the uppermost floor of the building was closed to students. Just before the building was raised locks were welcomed to take some things. My Dad got three lockers. Those might even still be at the foot of the cellar steps of 107 Park Avenue!

Market Street School assumed the spot vacated by the high school. It served students that would have gone to East Street. Of course East was built about the same time as the high school. The building became Warren County School district’s CENTRAL OFFICE, As my Mom (who worked there) used to say, “East Street was unsafe for kids but safe enough for adults!”


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