Curtain falls on Schenley athletics

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by Malik Vincent
For New Pittsburgh Courier

The winner of eight out of 19 varsity boys and girls championships in the City League last year will graduate its 95th and final class next spring. This has come with the 2008 decision to permanently close the now Schenley High School facility at 129 Denniston Ave. in the city’s East End.

“It’s been a difficult situation,” Schenley’s principal Sophia Facaros said.

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SCHENLEY HEAD FOOTBALL COACH
JASON BELL

Currently, there are four different high schools that compile the school’s athletic teams: (Pittsburgh Obama 6-12, University Prep 6-12 at Milliones, Pittsburgh Science and Technology Academy 6-12, and Pittsburgh Schenley 12).

“It’s safe to say that we have at least one kid from all of Pittsburgh’s neighborhoods in the mix here,” said Facaros. “It’s gone well though. Everyone just comes and plays for Schenley. It’s a common bond.”

Schenley’s director of athletics, Ken Saybel, expressed his uncertainty for the way that things will turn out in the future as the board continues to make changes.

“I’m honestly not sure of how everything is going to play out,” Saybel said. “Right now we know that this is the last year for Schenley athletics. As far as who is going to play what and for whom, also, where they’re going to play is not figured out yet and may not be for a while. If everything works out according to plan, we should have an idea by early fall, (for the 2011-12 school year).”

Also, according to Saybel, the largest percentage of the current Schenley athletic program are coming from the only two schools that are a part of this who share the same building, Obama and Schenley.

“Most every team that we have right now are mostly kids from Obama and Schenley, except for our golf team that is made up mostly from kids who attend Pittsburgh Science and Technology,” Saybel said.

One thing that’s proposed but not confirmed is that the Obama kids who now attend the old Reizenstein building with Schenley will move a few minutes away to what is now Peabody High School.

“Nothing (additional) is board approved,” said the director of the Pittsburgh Board of Education’s Athletic Department, Mike Gavlik. “We’ll be reviewing the facts and figures throughout the school year. Coaches will submit rosters and we’ll survey the amount of participation and interest, as well as locations, venue sizes, and overall feasibility—all in compliance and cooperation with the PIAA’s (Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association) and its standards.”

“It’s my gut feeling, and I’m unsure, is that Obama will have enough students to independently handle their own athletics,” added Saybel. As far as everyone else who is involved, I’m really not sure.”

As for the other two schools, these notions are not so projectable.

“We’d like to give UPrep and Sci-Tech the same opportunities that Obama may have, if possible,” said Gavlik. “I stress that none of this is approved by the board, however, there are some thoughts that are being pushed around about how each sport will play out when we get the information that is needed to make these final decisions. It will strictly depend on what is gathered.”

“There are many theories and ideas that are floating around about the future of the students that attend here,” said Facaros. “But really, the students have handled the situation as best as they could. It may not happen like that again, we’ve been very lucky. The student-athletes are just interested in exceeding what was accomplished last year when we experienced extreme success. They are focused on going out on top.” Schenley is currently practicing at Milliones School.

(Malik Vincent can be reached at malikvincent@gmail.com.)

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