Schenley High School held its final graduation June 12, 2011 amidst joy from the current grads, but sadness among previous grads who were sorry to see the school close down.
Reverend Glenn Grayson of Wesley Center AMEZ Church located in the Hill District gave away seven scholarships from the Jeron Grayson Scholarship Fund. This was given to students by staff, students and the Grayson family. Jeron Grayson was a former Schenley student, who was shot to death in October of 2010. A scholarship fund was named in his honor shortly after his untimely death. A combination of staff and other students along with the Grayson family picked who would receive the scholarships.
|HAPPY SCHOLARSHIP WINNERS—Rev. Glenn Grayson, center, stands with the seven Schenley scholarship winners. (Photo by Ashley Woodson.)
“Since my children went to Schenley, I found it to be quite a unique and culturally diverse high school in the Pittsburgh area. Even though it did not start out that way, over the years it became diverse. We also thought it was important that the students chosen were impacted by Jeron’s life in some way. We picked seven students because that was Jeron’s number,” Rev. Grayson said.
The original Schenley High School was located in the north Oakland neighborhood at the edge of the Hill District.
In 2008 the school’s staff and students were moved to the former Reizenstein Middle School building. Schenley was gradually phased out as these students graduated, with Milliones U-prep replacing it. The 2011 class was the last group of students from the 2008 group of students moved from the old Schenley building.
Schenley High School graduated its final class on June 12, at the Peterson Events Center in Oakland and with that final class; the historic name will cease to be an active Pittsburgh Public School. The school colors were red and black, and its mascot was the Spartan.
Even though Schenley had outstanding sports programs across the board, the Schenley basketball program was by far the greatest in Pittsburgh history over the years, winning several city and state championships, sending hundreds of students to college through athletic scholarships, and many into the pro ranks. Players such as Maurice Lucas, Kenny Durrett, Jeep Kelly, Ricky Coleman, Sonny Lewis, Wayne Williams, Kelvin Smith, D. J. Kennedy, DeJuan Blair, and Deandre Kane, were a few well-known alumni to walk the halls.
In the audience were families of the graduates, filled with tears of joy and sorrow. While all of the audience members were happy to see their loved ones graduating from Schenley High School, most people were sad that it will no longer exist.
Former student Angela Davis, class of 1983 said, “I’m very disappointed, disgusted and it’s not fair. We should take action and be involved. Those who graduated should come together and show that we care.”
The program was very emotional and upbeat. Schenley High School Senior Class Officer Thomas Sumpter made it clear that the students can now participate in the class reunions which are held every year the day after Christmas. He also wanted the students to know that they could achieve anything they wanted to since this chapter of their lives is over.
Principal Sophia Facaros did the welcome speech and everyone joined in to sing the National Anthem afterwards.
As the students began to line up to receive their diplomas, you could see happiness and joy in their eyes. They sang the Alma Mater and did the recessional and the rest is history.
“After Ninety-Five years of service to the community, Schenley High School will no longer exist, but the memories will carry on for eternity. The class of 2011 would like to say thank you to all of the teachers, administrators, staff, alumni, family and friends that have made Schenley High School the wonderful place that it has been for Ninety-Five years,” said a release from the students to staff.
(See photos of some of the graduates on People page B3.)