Over its existence, what is now called Penn Manor High School has been known, successively, as Manor Township High School, Manor-Millersville High School and Penn Manor High School. Manor Township High School held its first graduation in 1922 at the Model School on George Street across from Old Main.
In 1932, Millersville became a borough, and the high school was operated jointly by the school directors of Manor Township and Millersville Borough. The school was renamed Manor-Millersville High School. Pupils from Conestoga, Martic and Pequea Townships as well as Washington Boro attended the school on a tuition basis.
On July 13, 1953, an agreement was signed by six school boards – Conestoga Township, Manor Township, Martic Township, Millersville Borough, Pequea Township and Washington Boro – to construct and operate a new junior–senior high school, to be named Penn Manor High School.
Ground was broken on May 24, 1956, and the building was finished on September 4, 1958. The new auditorium, with a seating capacity of 1,100, was dedicated on November 9, 1958, to A. Norman Ranck, supervising principal, and the library was dedicated to Sanders P. McComsey, former president of the Joint School Board. The capacity of the building was 1,500 students and cost of construction and equipment was $3,325,000.
As described in a 1959 architectural journal, “The ultra-modern Penn Manor High School in traditionally conservative Lancaster County represents an abrupt break with many local building traditions. It also serves as an ingenious solution to a knotty architectural problem. Designing a large building to fit a relatively small site, with a fall of 55 feet in 700 feet, was further complicated by solid ledges of sub-surface rock. The result was a three level plan, molding the building to the contours of the site. Another unusual and interesting example of adapting the building to the site is the flat S-shape of the 600 foot long main corridor – interrupting what would have been an overly long, monotonous, and confining hallway.”
Construction delays were caused by a steel strike and a concrete strike, but the building was completed in September 1958 and opened to 1,425 students in grades 7-12. In March of 1961, the old high school building on High School Avenue was razed, and the ground was graded and seeded to provide additional outdoor physical education facilities.
By 1961, the enrollment in grades 7-12 at Penn Manor High School had reached 1,730 with an estimated enrollment of 2,000 by 1964. The School Board approved construction of a new junior high school on the hill east of the high school for 600 pupils at an estimated cost of $1.2 million.
By 1966, increasing enrollment required another junior high school building in Marticville. This $2.5 million building was dedicated in 1968 and designated as a middle school, housing grades 6-8. The Millersville Junior High was also reorganized as a middle school. The ninth grade remained in the High School, where a four-classroom portable building was added. Millersville Middle School became a ninth grade building, and the high school housed grades 10-12.
Students routinely crossed the parking tiers to change classes between buildings. As the district population continued to grow, the School Board found it necessary to add a second middle school in the northern end of the district. After acquiring 50 acres of land from the John G. Herr farm at Charlestown Road and Ironstone Ridge Road, Manor Middle School was completed in 1994.
As student enrollment continued to grow, another renovation project was planned to increase the capacity of the high school while updating the facilities to better meet the needs of our students. The two-year project began in 1995 and required that ninth grade students remain in their respective middle schools another year. Students in grades 10-12 occupied half of the high school while the other half was being renovated. Staff and students then picked up and moved all books, furniture and equipment into the renovated half of the building in 1996, and construction began on the other half.
The $30 million renovation project connected the former ninth grade building and the high school. New construction took place over the former parking tiers with a new cafeteria (seating capacity of 600), gymnasium (capacity of 2,000), library/media center, and enclosed walkway. All classrooms were reconfigured with additional classrooms located in the former library and cafeteria. The familiar curving hallways remained, but new terrazzo floors, ceiling tiles, and freshly painted lockers brightened the halls.
Along with updated lab facilities, technology was a huge part of the project, adding over 500 computers throughout the building.
Penn Manor’s switch to a “4 x 4” block schedule coincided with the renovation project. Where a traditional schedule has students moving to eight classes a day, the block schedule has four 90-minute classes in the fall and four different classes in the spring. Considering the size of the building, eight minutes was needed to get from one end of the building to the other. The block schedule decreased the amount of time students spent in the hallways.
Study halls were eliminated, and graduation requirements were gradually increased from 21 to 28 credits. All students are required to take four credits each in English, math, science and social studies. An Honors program was developed, and Advanced Placement offerings were increased to 13 courses. In recent years, the state Dual Enrollment Grant has enabled approximately 100 Penn Manor juniors and seniors to enroll in college courses each year.
Enrollment at the high school in grades 9-12 has fluctuated from under 1,300 (1990-1993) to over 1,800 (2004-2009). In the 1970s, more than half of each graduating class entered the workforce directly out of high school. That number has gradually dropped to less than 25% of each class in the last 20 years.
The percentage of students continuing their education after high school has grown from an average of less than 45% (1970-1986) to 55-65% (1987-2002). Since 2003, 70-76% of our graduating seniors have continued their education after high school. Our graduation rate is one of the highest in the county, with 97-98% of the students graduating in recent years.
No Child Left Behind and PSSA state assessment testing have become a focus of all schools. Penn Manor has successfully raised academic standards and improved test scores, rising from the middle to near the top of county school rankings. Penn Manor’s success in academic competitions in recent years is demonstrated by the success of our Brainbusters, Quiz Bowl and Rocket Teams. In 2010, Penn Manor’s Rocket Team won its second national championship, qualifying them to represent the United States in a flyoff against England and France in London in July 2010. They brought home the first International Championship for the United States.
Opportunities continue in many areas for Penn Manor students, with our outstanding agriculture program, technology education, music, theater and the arts. The school newspaper, Penn Points, went online for the first time in 2009-2010 and was recognized as one of seven national winners of the Pacemaker award. Approximately 20% of each senior class attends full day Career and Technology programs to prepare for highly skilled careers after high school. Our sports teams continue to excel, winning state titles in girls’ soccer (2002, 2005), baseball (2005) and field hockey (2008).
The following individuals served as Principal of Manor Millersville or Penn Manor High School:
1944 – 1968 A. Landis Brackbill
1968 – 1980 Glenn Davis
1980 – 1984 Robert King
1984 – 1990 Randall Kahler
1991 – 1997 Dr. Valerie Breneisen
1997 – 2009 Dr. Janice Mindish
2009 – Present Philip Gale
Penn Manor School District has experienced growth in enrollment, resulting in expanded facilities. Program changes have been implemented to meet the continuing educational needs of the students. What has not changed is the strong community support enjoyed by the dedicated board, administration, faculty, and staff of the Penn Manor School District.
A. Norman Ranck, A History of Penn Manor Schools, 1976
Tone (Journal of Interior Design, Published by Armstrong Cork Company, Lancaster) 1959
Dr. Janice Mindish
Dr. Michael Leichliter
For more information, visit Penn Manor School District History.