West Reading High School

West Reading High School
Pictured in 1936

The West Reading High School building was built in 1914 at the corner of 4th and Franklin Streets. It was the beginning of the secondary education for youth in the Borough of West Reading. It housed 7th-12th grades.

West Reading High School
1959

In 1923 an addition to the original building was added to accommodate an expanding population. An auditorium, gymnasium, study hall, science labs and additional classrooms were added to the high school. The first yearbook was also published in 1923. The school was not only utilized for the youth of West Reading but the rest of the members of the community as well. These new accommodations would serve as a gathering spot for community lectures, entertainment, movie nights, sports games and socials of all kinds. It was also used as a place to vote, a child welfare station, a meeting place for playground directors, a meeting place for the Borough Council when carnivals and other activities were preventing regular session at the Town Hall.

West Reading High School
Brand new auditorium in 1924

West Reading’s mascot was the Cowboy and their colors were maroon and steel. West Reading started off with just a Boy’s Basketball team in the early 1920s. Girls Basketball made its debut in the 1924-25 school year. By the 1960s sports included: Football, Girls Field Hockey, Boys & Girls Basketball, Baseball, Track and Cheerleading. Other activities included a school newspaper called the Lariat, Student Council, Debate Team, Future Teachers of America, Future Nurses of America, Chorus and Band.

West Reading High School
Gymnasium in 1948

State Basketball Champs

West Reading was known for having a good Boys’ basketball team and even won the State Championship three years in a row in 1959, 1960, and 1961. The team was lead those years by 6’9″ center Ron Krick. Krick beat Wilt Chamberlain’s record in all-time scoring in the state of PA. Ron went on to play college basketball at the University of Cincinnati for four years before being drafted by the Cincinnati Royals in the 9th round of the 1965 NBA draft. His pro career was cut short due to consistent shoulder injuries but his legacy at West Reading High has never been forgotten. He passed away in 2011 of cancer at the Reading Hospital, just down the street from where he set records on the West Reading High court.

West Reading High School
1959 West Reading Basketball Squad – State Champs – Ron Krick in the back center wearing number 5X
West Reading High School
State Basketball Champs 1959
West Reading High School
Classroom 1952

Our Maroon and Steel,
May always feel,
We’re with you to a man,
Maroon and Steel,
the hub of the Wheel,
We’ll do for you all we can
Maroon and Steel,
Our memories will
drift back to you o’er and o’er
Our Alma Mater dear
West Reading need not fear,
We’ll be with you forever more

1950-1955 School Song
Library 1952

Hail to thee, West Reading High School,
Stay thy memory ever bright,
Thou our true and guiding spirit,
Helping us to do the right.
May thy colors e’er remind us
of our fight against the wrong,
Maroon that always keeps us loyal,
Steel the symbol of the strong.

When we pass from out thy portals,
From thy all-protecting care,
We shall go prepared for service,
Willing all thy gifts to share.
May thy inspiration guide us,
as the years go passing by,
May our lives bring praise and honor,
Ever to West Reading High.

1958-1969 School Song
West Reading High School
Science lab 1949

In the late 1960s it became clear that there were financial benefits to the West Reading and Wyomissing Borough’s consolidating their school systems. West Reading High School was by far the smaller of the two high school buildings, so it was decided that the West Reading High School students would be absorbed into Wyomissing Area School District.

Gym 1949

June 1969 was the last time that West Reading and Wyomissing graduated separate classes, as the two districts merged in the beginning of the 1969-1970 school year. Forty-seven seniors graduated from the last West Reading High class in 1969.

West Reading High School Band 1967

In 1972, the Wyomissing Area School district used the old West Reading High building as a middle school for 5th-8th grades. A new building was erected right behind it and served as an Elementary building. By 1985, the West Reading High School building was sold and was renovated into an apartment building. West Reading Elementary school still sits right behind the old West Reading High building. Space and enrollment have been issues that have plagued the district almost since building it. In 2008 there were talks of re-purchasing the old West Reading High building, evicting the tenants, razing it and building a new school on the site. This never came to fruition due to very high cost and the community members voting overwhelmingly against the proposal.

English teacher George M. Meiser IX of Wyomissing Area Middle School locks up the former West Reading High School, ending its use as a public school. From left are Helen Poole, a former West Reading teacher; Arthur B. Himmelberger, a former principal; Winfred Brunner, a 1923 West Reading Graduate; West Reading Borough Manager Thomas H. Bagenstose of the last West Reading graduating class; and John H. Shaner, the school’s athletic director for 40 years. – Reading Eagle

Source: Wyomissing School District, Reading Eagle

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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.

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