History of the
Northern Bedford County School District
Found below is an excerpt describing the history of the Northern Bedford County School District
from the following book written by Ben F. Van Horn, Sr. in 1986:
Bible, Axe and Plow
School Consolidation - High Schools and District Reorganization
With allowance for nostalgia and the good old days, one must pay tribute to the contribution of the one-room schools to education in the years past. They were a successful and influential institution and effective for their time. Their advantages and disadvantages continue to be debated. Of the former, innovative schools of today often employ the peer aide system which existed in the one-room school where the older pupils helped the younger. As for the disadvantages, we cannot imagine teachers today agreeing to a 9 oclock to 4 oclock job with 76 pupils in all eight grades as was the case in the Longenecker School in Middle Woodberry Township in 1869, for example.
The consolidation movement in Pennsylvania which occurred following World War I spelled the demise of the one-room school. The County Superintendents Report for 1924 states:
South Woodbury Township established the first real consolidated school in the county. Five one-room schools were closed and the pupils transported to a central point, New Enterprise, and organized into a large thoroughly graded school. The advantages of this arrangement are apparent and the transportation facilities seem to be satisfactory to all concerned.
The reference to transportation in the preceding quotation should be noted. This was the beginning of the numerous supportive services which we too often take for granted today in our public schools.
NB In the South Woodbury Township consolidation referred to in the County Superintendents report above, the pupils of the first and second grades were housed in a room of the Replogle High School Building, grades three and four were in the first floor room of the 1881 building and five and six in the upper floor room. The consolidation of the district was completed in 1929, with the closing of the remainder of the one-room schools. All pupils of the district were housed in the newly constructed Replogle Elementary School.
From Forty to Four -- One-Room School Consolidation
Consolidation of all of the public one-room schools in the present Northern Bedford County School District area was completed in 1928 and 1929, a total of forty. Four new buildings were built to house the elementary pupils Bloomfield Township at Bakers Summit, South Woodbury Township at New Enterprise (Replogle), Hopewell Township at Yellow Creek (Smith), and Woodbury Borough and Township at Woodbury.
Bloomfield Township Elementary
Sept. 8, 1928
South Woodbury Township Elementary School (Replogle)
Dec. 1, 1929
Oct. 3, 1930
Hopewell Township Elementary School (Smith)
June 2, 1929
by fire, December, 1933
In 1935 a gymnasium and lobby were added, joining the high school (1931) and grade school (1934) sections.
Woodbury Joint Elementary School
Jan. 18, 1930
(Picture substitution, one in book not available)
School Benefactors - - - Native Sons
J. Leonard Replogle
1876 - 1948
- Born near New Enterprise
- Entered local school
- Family moved to Johnstown
- Survived the Johnstown Flood 1889
- Rose from office boy to president of the Cambria Steel Co. and top executive positions in consolidated steel firms
- Served important appointed positions in the national government in World Wars I and II
- Mr. Replogle contributed approximately one-half of the cost of construction of Replogle High School in 1918, and a major portion of the construction of the Replogle Elementary School in 1928.
Robert P. Smith
1895 - 1961
- Born and reared in Hopewell Township, an descendant of the pioneer Piper family
- Taught two terms of school in his native district
- Graduated from George Washington University Law School
- Served legal capacities in the Department of Justice and the Internal Revenue Service, followed by private practice
- An early advocate of vocational education for rural youth
- Mr. Smiths influence and financial support made the Smith Vocational High School and Grade School a reality.
The High School Movement Arrives
As near as can be determined the first standard high school program to be offered in our district area was Hopewell in 1915. Woodbury and South Woodbury are recorded as beginning 1916 and 1917, respectively, the latter becoming Replogle High School by name in 1918. Hopewell Township erected the Smith Vocational High School in 1931. Financial assistance in the building of Replogle High School and Smith Vocational High School was given by native sons of the respective areas, Mr. J. Leonard Replogle and Mr. Robert P. Smith. (See biographies herewith.)
The high school at Hopewell offered a three-year program. Students who desired a four-year diploma took their senior year at Everett or one of the neighboring full course high schools. The last year for the Hopewell High School was 1933, with a total of 145 having been graduated during this nineteen year period. Thereafter the Hopewell youth attended Robert P. Smith High School.
Woodbury High School offered a three-year program until 1928. The records indicated that eighty-nine completed this course. The first four-year class graduated in 1930. A total of 311 were graduated from the four-year course between 1930 and 1957. (5)
Replogle High School (South Woodbury Township) offered a three-year program between 1917 and 1923, and a four-year program from 1924 through 1957. A total of 724 were graduated. (6)
Beginning as a vocational school, Smith Schools program featured agriculture, home economics, and commercial courses. Diplomas were issued to a total of 757 over the twenty-seven class years. (7)
School Districts Form Jointures; Later Merge Into One
The residents of Woodbury Borough and Woodbury Township formed a joint school system in 1929, and in so doing pioneered locally in what was to become a major movement in school district reorganization in Pennsylvania. A similar step was taken by the school directors of South Woodbury Township and Loysburg Independent Districts in 1937, by a complete merger of the two districts into one. This pattern of merger was later mandated throughout the state (Act 299, 1966).
The financial inducement provided by the state for larger administrative units and the recognition of the benefits possible through joint and merged operation of schools led the school directors of Bloomfield Township, Hopewell Borough, Woodbury Borough, Hopewell Township, Woodbury Township, and South Woodbury Township to consider the formation of jointure of the six districts. The consideration became a reality with the signing of articles of agreement by the latter five boards at a meeting in Woodbury on June 1, 1957, forming the Northern Bedford County Joint School System. (The sixth, Bloomfield Township, joined in the operation in 1959.) Collectively, the directors of the member district comprised the joint school board, a total of thirty directors when the six-district organization was completed.
A New School System Becomes A Reality
From the minutes: A meeting of the directors of districts interested in signing contracts for the formation of a joint school in Northern Bedford County are organizing same was held at Woodbury on June 1, 1957. The following directors were present:
- Hopewell Borough - Anna Zeth, Lloyd McIlnay
- Hopewell Township - Joseph Clapper, Jr., Roger hall, James Davis
- South Woodbury Township - Dr. Richard Bulger, Kenneth Hershberger, Harold Over, William Pressel, Orange Rice
- Woodbury Borough - Jacob C. Miller, W. E. Pepple, Harry Forshey, Willis Long
- Woodbury Township - Donald Over, Chester Erb, William Helsel
Mr. William Mowry, County Superintendent of Schools, acted as temporary chairman for the election of a president.
Dr. Richard Bulger was elected president and Mr. Willis Long, vice-president of the new board.
Mr. Roger Hall was elected secretary and Mr. Harry Forshey, treasurer.
Dr. Ben F. Van Horn, was elected Supervising Principal.
Mr. Long moved, seconded by Mrs. Zeth, that the County Board of Education be petitioned to approve the organization of the Northern Bedford County Schools. Motion passed unanimously.
And, from following meetings --
June 18, 1957
July 5, 1957
- Mr. Harry Snavely was elected administrative assistant.
- Mr. Cal Bruno was elected high school principal.
- Attorney E. W. Van Horn, Jr., was appointed solicitor.
All recorded and adopted acts of the new organization performed prior to July 1, 1957, were declared valid and were ratified and approved.
The name of the high school was designated as Northern Bedford County High School.
The choice of the high school colors was to be decided by the student body, excluding maroon, green, and red, these with white having been the colors of the three former high school. (Black and white was selected by the students subsequently.)
Six Districts Merge
A further refinement in the school district organization occurred in 1966, following the passage of Act 299 by the state legislature. The Act mandated the merging of jointly operated districts into a single district, abolished the member districts, and provided for a board of nine directors. Accordingly, the Northern Bedford County School District came into existence as an official entity on July 1, 1966.
As indicated earlier, the office of County Superintendent of Schools was created in Pennsylvania in 1854, providing general supervision of the district schools. In 1970, the state legislature enacted Act 102 abolishing the county offices and instituting the intermediate unit system, effective July 1, 1971. Accordingly, Bedford County, along with Blair, Cambria, and Somerset Counties became Intermediate Unit Eight with headquarters at Ebensburg. The new office provides services, only, to the local districts. Northern Bedford County School District is one of thirty-five districts in the four county unit.
Three High Schools Become One
With the consummation of the jointure in 1957, the three existing high schools -- Replogle, Smith, and Woodbury were united and became the Northern Bedford County High School. Pending construction of a building large enough for the total high school enrollment, the seventh grade was housed in the Woodbury building, the eighth and ninth grades in the Replogle building, and tenth, eleventh, and twelfth in the Smith building (1957-1963).
In 1961 work was begun on the construction of a new high school building on a site of thirty-five acres purchased for $35,000, located 1/4 mile north of Loysburg. The building was completed at a construction cost of $1,250,000, exclusive of financing charges. It was occupied on May 6, 1963, and dedicated on July 9, 1963.
The Class of 1958 holds the honor of being the first to graduate under the colors of Northern Bedford County High School. Commencement exercises were held in the Smith School Gymnasium. First to graduate from the new high school building was the Class of 1963.
Vocational Program Expands
In 1976, the Northern Bedford County School District Board approved the construction of a vocational shop building and greenhouse to expand the educational program. Construction costs totaled $908,000. Of this amount, $400,000 was paid from the districts capital reserve fund and the balance financed by a five-year bank loan. Of the amount borrowed, approximately 90% was reimbursed by the state. In 1977, a federal Local Public Works Act Grant of $743,000 was obtained and used for the addition of six classrooms and service areas to the original high school building.
For the record, other recent additions and improvements in the school plant and facilities included construction of a sewage disposal plant for the Smith School in 1970 at a cost of $49,455, tennis courts at the high school in 1974 ($38,184), and at Replogle in 1975 ($22,893 -- paid for by the Replogle Alumni Association), and an annex at Woodbury in 1978 for small group instruction built by the high school building trades class at a cost of $19,673 for materials. Looking to the future, a thirty-five acre field adjoining the high school grounds was purchased by the school board in 1973, at a cost of $27,500 with 76% state reimbursement, for eventual development as an elementary school center.
With the addition of kindergarten in 1973 in each of the three elementary buildings -- Replogle at New Enterprise, R. P. Smith at Yellow Creek, and Woodbury, and the addition of five vocational courses in the high school in 1977 and 1979, a comprehensive program meeting and exceeding the standards of the period was realized.
In 1981, the old two story brick building at New Enterprise, built in 1881, was selected for placement on the Pennsylvania and National Register of Historic Places. The 100th anniversary recognition of its historic value marks the building, also, as symbolic of the early response to the importance and needs of public education in the area.
Thus, briefly, is the story of the development of public education in the Northern Bedford County School District area over approximately two hundred years -- from the log cabin subscription schools of the late 18th and early 19th century years; over the one-room free school era from 1834 to the consolidation movement of the 1920's; and from the small high schools beginning in the teen years of the present century through the metamorphosis of the single, comprehensive high school of the 1980's. To reading, writing, and arithmetic were added many other basic and enrichment studies and skill development activities to meet the ever changing needs of the world for which the children and youth were being prepared. A better example of the true definition of evolution as represented by the history of the system of education spawned and nourished in the area would be difficult to find.
In the words of Cicero, the Roman statesman: History is the witness of the times, the light of truth, the life of memory, the teacher of life, the messenger of antiquity. Our schools have been all of these and a vital part of our areas history. Hopefully, they will continue to move with the times, but more importantly -- lead in the progress of our community as the next century unfolds.
From Three to One . . . Three High Schools Merged in 1957
J. Leonard Replogle High School
South Woodbury Township
May 23, 1918
Woodbury High School
Woodbury Borough and Woodbury Township
Jan. 18, 1930
(A vocational annex was added in 1940.)
Robert P. Smith High School
June 6, 1933
Northern Bedford County High School
Dedicated June 9, 1963
Important Dates Marked for NBC High School
Sept. 5, 1961: Groundbreaking
Participants, left to right: James Davis, School Director; Professor Lloyd Hinkle, retired County Superintendent of Schools; Dr. Ben F. Van Horn, District Superintendent; Dr. Richard Bulger, School Board President; William Davis, Architects; Project Inspector; Dr. Samuel Steinberger, County Superintendent of Schools; Robert St. Clair, High School Principal; and Richard Weimert, Asst. County Superintendent.
May 6, 1963: First day of school in the new building
Boy Scout Troop #64
B. F. Van Horn, Robert St. Clair, Lester Steele - representing the Cove Lions Club, donors of the flag, and Gayle Baker - Scout Troop Leader
High School Plant Expansion
Vocational Shop and Greenhouse, 1976
Classroom Addition, 1977
Architectural Pattern Noted: There is interesting footnote to the school facilities pictured above and in the preceding pages. Beginning with the Bloomfield Township Consolidated School in 1928, it and all of the school buildings constructed thereafter were designed by the same firm of architects originally Hunter and Caldwell; later Campbell, Rae, Hayes, and Large; and now, Hayes, Large, Suckling, Fruth, and Wedge, of Altoona, Pennsylvania.