Penn Township High School – Bernville

Penn Township Consolidated School building, built in 1930

On Monday, September 2, 1907, the Bernville High School began its first classes. Many local schools established around the turn of the 20th century were the result of borough funds, but that is not the case for Bernville High. It was only introduced by an act of the state legislature appropriating money for township high schools to be established.

Penn Building, First ever site of Bernville High
New building moved into in 1920

The students attended school on the second floor of the then-Reppert home (also later called Penn Building) and were taught by Mr. J. Paul Burkhart. The first graduating class held its commencement on Saturday, May 15th 1909; six boys and one girl graduated. This set-up continued until 1916, when the “Flu” epidemic postponed the opening of school until October 2nd. By then the high school occupied the entire Reppert house and another teacher was added.

In 1920-21, the high school moved to a new school building which later served as an elementary building. In 1922 the high school changed from a three-year to a four-year program.

Penn Township High School
Penn-Bernville High Senior Class of 1964

In 1931, a new building was established at Shartlesville and Bernville Roads; the consolidation of areas occurred under the Penn Township Consolidated School. The high school would now be called Penn Township High School or just Penn High. It housed 7th-12th grades.

1952 – new elementary building built onto Penn High

In 1949 the Penn Township and Bernville Borough formed the Penn-Bernville Union School District, which was the first in Berks County. A new elementary school was built onto the Penn Township Consolidated School building that already housed the secondary students. It opened in the fall of 1952. This put the entire educational system under one roof for one cohesive learning environment. From this point forward the high school would be called Penn-Bernville High School.

Penn Township High School
Penn-Bernville High Senior Class of 1964

Penn High’s school colors were green and white and their mascot was the Wildcat. Sports teams included Boys Soccer, Boys Baseball, Boys Basketball, Cheerleading, Field Hockey, Softball. Other activities included Debate Club, Library Club, Camera Club, Outdoor Club, Chorus, Band and many others.

Penn Township High School
New addition to Penn Township High under construction in 1959

Ground was broken for a new addition in 1959 and completed by fall of 1960. New facilities included a brand new gym and a few classrooms.

Penn Township High School
Phys Ed Class in the new gym addition in 1963

Cheer, Cheer, for dear old Penn High,
We’ll sing her praises until we die,
We will never change our minds,
She is the best school of her times.
While we are learning within her walls
We’ll always hasten to answer her calls.
As the times go marching onward,
Penn High, we love thee best!

School Song
Penn Township High School
Students entering new addition in 1961

In 1963, there was a merger between Penn-Bernville High and Bethel High. They would continue to operate academics in their own buildings for 2 more years, but their sports teams were combined to create the Tulpehocken Trojans.

Penn-Bernville High School graduated its last separate class of 34 students in June of 1965. It was replaced by the new Tulpehocken High School which opened its doors in August of 1965. Ground was broken for Tulpehocken High on March 28th, 1964 and it was finished roughly 9 months later. The building remained an elementary school after the high school students left its halls. Eventually the oldest section of the building was demolished in 2001 and a new facility was rebuilt. The 1960 addition was retained in the new build.

Penn Township High School
Aerial of Bernville Road and Shartlesville Road where Penn Township High stood in 1958

Today, Penn-Bernville Elementary School still sits on the site of the former high school building and is a part of the Tulpehocken Area School District.

Buy Penn Township High Vintage Apparel

SHOP BERKS NOSTALGIA’S DEFUNCT SCHOOL COLLECTION

Born and raised in Berks, I am fascinated by the style, design & culture of the mid-late 20th century. I started this website to research and build a collection of the places, things and stories I have heard about my entire life. Read more here.

2 Replies to “Penn Township High School – Bernville”

  1. I love these pictures! I grew up in Bernville and still live in the surrounding area. I am part of that class of 1964. My family also graduated from there. My husband in 1959. My mom in 1931. A younger sister in 1968 and an older sister in 1956. Several cousins graduated from there too. Our three sons graduated from Tulpehocken.

Leave a Reply