Edit ModuleEdit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Undercover: ‘The Schenley Experiment’

A little while after the average freshman enters Schenley, he is aware of a new feeling, which pervades the atmosphere of the place, something which makes him extremely proud to be one of the Schenleyites. — “The Schenley Experiment: A Social History of Pittsburgh’s First Public High School”



Welcome back to school, class! I hope everyone had a fun and relaxing summer vacation. It went by so fast, didn’t it? I know you’re as eager as I am to jump back in, so let’s get started! Be sure to have a sharpened No. 2 pencil ready, because there will be a quiz.
 


“The Schenley Experiment: A Social History of Pittsburgh’s First Public High School”
by Jake Oresick 
Penn State University Press; $19.95.


Pittsburgh’s first public high school opened in September of 1855. Located in a downtown storefront on Smithfield Street, Pittsburgh Central High School’s first class of students boasted “fifty-seven girls and fifty-seven boys” who “ranged from ten to twenty years of age.”

The school was reorganized in 1916 as Schenley High School, which opened its doors at Centre Avenue and Bigelow Boulevard that same year in a state-of-the-art facility designed by the local architect Edward Stotz. Schenley High School was officially closed in 2008 by the school board, citing expensive asbestos removal and major renovations as mitigating factors in the controversial decision.

​Schenley alumnus Jake Oresick’s The Schenley Experiment: A Social History of Pittsburgh’s First Public High School is a highly readable account of the school’s colorful and varied history. Oresick capably renders the school’s story from its unpopular beginnings (the Daily Post called it “a very expensive public humbug”), to its arrival as a crown jewel of the Pittsburgh Public Schools, boasting college-level programs and a highly regarded teaching staff.

Oresick quotes James Reed, Class of 1925, “A little while after the average freshman enters Schenley, he is aware of a new feeling, which pervades the atmosphere of the place, something which makes him extremely proud to be one of the Schenleyites. He realizes that he belongs to Schenley’s family, and begins to desire to perform some outstanding work.” 

Oresick doesn’t shrink from discussing the hard times on which the school fell in the 1970s or the sometimes-volatile racial tensions experienced by the staff and student body. He stresses that by the 1990s, “Schenley had fully shaken its stigma and was not only viable but also hip.”

Many considered the school a paragon of public education. “For most of its ninety-five-year existence, Schenley reflected the vision of its first principal, James Noble Rule,” writes Oresick. “Principal Rule believed the modern secondary school should foster community and ‘functional equality’ across social strata.”
 


“The Pittsburgh Stories of Willa Cather,” 
Edited and with an Introduction by Peter Oresick 
Carnegie Mellon University Press; $19.95


One of Pittsburgh Central High School’s most revered teaching alums was Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Willa Cather.

Known primarily for her novels about homesteaders in Nebraska, The Pittsburgh Stories of Willa Cather shines a light on her lesser-known fiction set in the steel city. Of the six stories gathered here by editor Peter Oresick (Jake’s father), the oft-anthologized “Paul’s Case,” is both the most familiar and most successful, but all deal with the tensions between art and commerce in the United States.

Peter Oresick, who passed away last September, provides an excellent introductory essay to this wonderful edition to Cather’s enduring legacy.  

 



 

 

Speak Up

Sept. 8/ Naughty By Literature! A Literary Cabaret hosted by Literazzi takes over the stage at Cattivo for a cheeky (21 and over) good time. The show features naughty takes on favorite literary characters performed by Amoxie Villain, Artemis LaCreme, Cherri Baum and more. Literazzi is a poetry and performance troupe dedicated to raising awareness and funds for local literacy programs. Proceeds from this event benefit the Greater Pittsburgh Literacy Council. (Cattivo, 146 44th St., Lawrenceville; 412/687-2157)

Sept. 24/ The seventh annual Pittsburgh Zine Fair is here once again to offer its plethora of homemade literary wares. A zine is typically considered to be any self-published, usually photocopied, limited-run book or magazine; poetry, journals, music writing, politics and comics are all common features of the zine scene. A few participants of the 2011 Feminist Zine Symposium, hosted by the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, started the annual affair. Artists, writers, and activists from across the region will take part in this staple of the DIY community. (The Union Project, 801 N. Negley Ave., Highland Park; pghzinefair.com
 

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module

Edit ModuleShow TagsEdit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module Edit ModuleShow Tags

Add Some Culture to Your Life with Swan Lake

If you play your cards right, the beautiful production from Pittsburgh Ballet Theater will dazzle even novices.

The 5 Best Places to People Watch in Pittsburgh

A coffee shop, an iconic landmark, an airport and beyond — these are the best places to practice the art of people watching.

Our Dream Penthouse Used to be a Carpet Warehouse

The building that now houses a $1.05 million dollar penthouse was first used for a much less exciting purpose.

HGTV Renews ‘Restored by the Fords’ Starring Pittsburgh Siblings

The finale showcasing Leanne and Steve Ford airs Tuesday, and the duo already are looking for more local houses to restore for the show’s second season.

Five Fun Facts about Pittsburgh Bridges

With more than 440 bridges in the city to choose from, VisitPITTSBURGH shows off the most interesting bridges within the city in its new Official Visitors Guide.

WQED Event to Celebrate Mister Rogers Forever Stamp

USPS will dedicate a new forever stamp to Fred Rogers and celebrate with a party in March.

Mothers Know Best for This Pittsburgh Couple

For Cady Walter and Jared Heningin, happily ever after may never have happened if their mothers hadn’t acted as matchmakers.

Peters Township Native Wins Silver Medal in Speed Skating

After swine flu kept him from competing in Sochi in 2014, short track speed skater John-Henry Krueger finally won a spot on the podium at the Winter Olympic Games in Pyeongchang.

Perspectives: A Better Life

A former Pittsburgh television reporter recounts the lessons taught to him by his grandfather who spent more than four decades as a Pullman Porter.

Pittsburgh MultiStories: Phipps Legacy – The Fulton Building

With its distinctive seven-story archway, the Fulton Building (now the Renaissance Pittsburgh Hotel) remains a beloved Pittsburgh landmark.

Kick Back and Relax with a Baby Sloth

For $150 you can book an up-close hang out session with Vivien the two-toed sloth.

Jack Kerouac: Manager of the Pittsburgh Plymouths

In a league of his own making, the famous writer cast himself as the skipper of a (fantasy) Pittsburgh ball club.

Bucking the Trend: Gallagher’s Groovy Growing

Megan Gallagher is part of a small cadre of young farmers bucking demographic trends.

Meet the Woman bringing Dignity and Diversity to Twitter

As Twitter's vice president of intersectionality, culture and diversity, Candi Castleberry Singleton, who splits her time between Pittsburgh and San Francisco, works tirelessly to bring inclusion and respect to companies.

Where's the Flu Bug Biting Hardest? There's an App for That

The Doctors Report Illness Tracker has the scoop on germ hotspots all over the region and beyond.
Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags


Five Fun Facts about Pittsburgh Bridges

Five Fun Facts about Pittsburgh Bridges

With more than 440 bridges in the city to choose from, VisitPITTSBURGH shows off the most interesting bridges within the city in its new Official Visitors Guide.

Comments

WQED Event to Celebrate Mister Rogers Forever Stamp

WQED Event to Celebrate Mister Rogers Forever Stamp

USPS will dedicate a new forever stamp to Fred Rogers and celebrate with a party in March.

Comments


All the foodie news that's fit to blog
First Look: Poulet Bleu in Lawrenceville

First Look: Poulet Bleu in Lawrenceville

PM dining critic Hal B. Klein takes a look at the new Richard DeShantz restaurant ... and he has the scoop on what's next from the energetic restaurateur.

Comments

Avenue B is Closing

Avenue B is Closing

The Shadyside restaurant ends its 8-plus year run in a few weeks.

Comments


Not just good stuff. Great stuff.
The 5 Best Places to People Watch in Pittsburgh

The 5 Best Places to People Watch in Pittsburgh

A coffee shop, an iconic landmark, an airport and beyond — these are the best places to practice the art of people watching.

Comments

Sweet Ideas: Our Favorites for Valentine's Day

Sweet Ideas: Our Favorites for Valentine's Day

Where to eat, where to go, what to buy –– some of our favorites to make your Valentine's celebration memorable.

Comments


Add Some Culture to Your Life with Swan Lake

Add Some Culture to Your Life with Swan Lake

If you play your cards right, the beautiful production from Pittsburgh Ballet Theater will dazzle even novices.

Comments

After Dark Hall of Fame: Stage AE

After Dark Hall of Fame: Stage AE

The North Shore concert hotspot is the latest inductee in the After Dark Hall of Fame.

Comments


Mike Prisuta's Sports Section

A weekly look at the games people are playing and the people who are playing them.
The Quest is No Less Recognizable Even if Team USA Is Not

The Quest is No Less Recognizable Even if Team USA Is Not

They’re still playing hockey at the Winter Olympics, but without NHL players. Which means the guys doing the playing are relative nobodies. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

Comments

Steelers Headed in Wrong Direction on The Stairway to Seven

Steelers Headed in Wrong Direction on The Stairway to Seven

A year ago at this juncture, the Steelers could legitimately perceive the Patriots as the only team standing between them and yet another championship. Now, a lot more more than just one team is in the way.

Comments


The movies that are playing in Pittsburgh –– and, more importantly, whether or not they're worth your time.
Black Panther is Marvel's Best Film

Black Panther is Marvel's Best Film

Reviews of "Black Panther" and "Early Man," plus local movie news and notes.

Comments

At Last, We're Freed from Fifty Shades

At Last, We're Freed from Fifty Shades

Reviews of "Fifty Shades Freed" and "The Cloverfield Paradox," plus local movie news and notes.

Comments


Everything you need to know about getting married in Pittsburgh today.
Mothers Know Best for This Pittsburgh Couple

Mothers Know Best for This Pittsburgh Couple

For Cady Walter and Jared Heningin, happily ever after may never have happened if their mothers hadn’t acted as matchmakers.

Comments

Cookie Table Contest: And the Winner Is ...

Cookie Table Contest: And the Winner Is ...

We introduce the winner and the runners up for our biannual cookie table contest.

Comments


Weekly inspiration for your home from the editors of Pittsburgh Magazine
Our Dream Penthouse Used to be a Carpet Warehouse

Our Dream Penthouse Used to be a Carpet Warehouse

The building that now houses a $1.05 million dollar penthouse was first used for a much less exciting purpose.

Comments

HGTV Renews ‘Restored by the Fords’ Starring Pittsburgh Siblings

HGTV Renews ‘Restored by the Fords’ Starring Pittsburgh Siblings

The finale showcasing Leanne and Steve Ford airs Tuesday, and the duo already are looking for more local houses to restore for the show’s second season.

Comments