History of the Northern Lehigh School District

  • Prior to 1858, the children of Lower Slatington attended a school one-half mile north of the Borough of Slatington and the children of Upper Slatington attended the Friedensville School

    The first school within the present limits of Slatington was in the old stone mill in Lower Slatington in 1820 which was built by William Kern, but is was only operated for a year or two. The next school was opened in 1858. At this time, a Welsh Church divided and the School Directors of Washington Township rented the stone church building located on West Church Street in the borough. This building was used for school purposes until 1868. A school also operated for a time in the second story of the Lehigh Slate Company’s store.

    From 1857 to 1866 Rev. A.G. Hamed, pastor of the Presbyterian congregation, maintained a private school in the church. It was taught for a part of the term by Solomon Berry of Maine. Other schools were held in private houses, but in 1868 most of them gave way to the Public Schools. In that year, the new school house was erected. It was a substantial structure measuring 47 feet by 50 feet, two stories high and built at a cost of seven thousand ($7,000) dollars. Dedicated on Sunday, August 30, 1868, the schools were divided into four departments: primary, secondary, grammar and high school. Enrollment hovered near the 200 pupil mark. In 1875, Professor Frank J. Stettler, who directed the grammar school for two years, became the principal. He re-graded the schools, established a better classification, and introduced a regular course of study. At this time, the attendance increased considerably and another primary school was opened in the McDowell Hall in Slatington. Higher studies were also introduced for advanced pupils in the high school.

    In 1879, the number of pupils had increased substantially and more room was necessary. Consequently, an addition, two stories high and 25 feet by 45 feet, was built for twenty-five hundred ($2,500) dollars. The rooms were furnished for one thousand ($1,000) dollars.

    The Slatington High School became popular and was attended by nonresident pupils from Northampton and Carbon Counties, as well as from adjoining districts in Lehigh County. In 1883, the overcrowded conditions of the school demanded more room and another addition was built. In September, a total of eight schools were opened. Beginning in 1875, professor Stettler conducted a Summer Normal Institute for thirteen years during which time approximately 150 young men and women graduated as teachers. Most of them secured positions in Lehigh and the adjoining counties. Two night schools were conducted for several years, one attended by quarry and factory boys, the other by teachers and advanced pupils. In 1890, the school had again become so overcrowded that more room was absolutely necessary. During the summer of 1890, a two-story, four-room brick building, 50n feet by 50n feet, was erected on Fairview Avenue, in the Southeastern part of the Borough.

    In 1892, the Board elected an assistant teacher in the high school. However, the primary school in the new building became so overcrowded, it was necessary to employ an assistant teacher making 14 teachers in all. In 1897, the school authorities decided to require the high school to cover a period of three years instead of the former two year courses. This act retained the C years class in the high school for the years 1897 and 1898, and thus no graduation was held in the year 1897.

    In 1896 the school, overcrowded for several years, reached its highest enrollment. In the spring of 1897, the School Board broke ground for the erection of a new school building. The corner stone was laid on the 31st day of July 1897 by the R.W. Grand Lodge of F. and A.M. of the Grand Jurisdiction of Pennsylvania.

    The aforementioned information offers an overview of the beginning developments of our Slatington Schools. However, the next one hundred years reflect such drastic changes in our school and community that a time-line synopsis was developed.

Timeline of Events

  • Year Event
    2019 Renovations to Science Wing at Northern Lehigh High School, adding two new classrooms and redistributing locker commons area to hallways throughout the building.
    2012 A fully synthetic turf field was installed at the newly-renamed Bulldog Community Stadium, which allowed soccer and field hockey matches to be played in the stadium on a full-time basis along with football
    2011 Renovations to Slatington Elementary were completed in the fall of 2011, converting the school from an open-concept building to a classroom setting
    2002 New Library/Classroom Additions to Northern Lehigh High School to accommodate the transfer of 9th Grade from the Junior High. Planning for renovations of the Junior High which will be converted to a Middle School
    1992 Renovation of existing 1954 and 1966 Peters Elementary building – new construction of an additional two-story wing [Student enrollment for district – 2158]
    1990 Construction of new 50’ x 50’ weight room facility by Northern Lehigh Athletic Association parent
    1982 Renovation of old High School (600 North Diamond Street) to become new Northern Lehigh Junior High School
    1982 Smith Hall Athletic Complex was demolished
    1982 On October 2 – old Junior High School at main and Second Street, Slatington was sold
    1981 Construction of new Northern Lehigh High School, one Bulldog Lane, Slatington [Student enrollment for district - 2220]
    1981 May 1981 - Slatedale Elementary building was sold
    1980 On October 10 the Lincoln Elementary School property and Smith Hall Athletic Complex property were sold to Lehigh County Housing Authority for $75,000.00
    1980 The Slatington High School and Slatington Junior High School names were changed on June 11, 1980 to the Northern Lehigh High School and the Northern Lehigh Junior High School.
    1975 Demolition of the Lincoln Elementary building
    1975 Sale of the Walnutport Elementary building known as the Whitehouse Building
    1973 Construction of Slatington Elementary School and Administrative Offices at 1201 Shadow Oaks Lane, Slatington on October 11, 1973
    1966 On July 1, 1966, the Blue Valley Union School District and the Washington Township School District merged to form the Northern Lehigh School District as we know it today. The district is now comprised of the Boroughs of Walnutport, Slatington, and the Township of Washington; a total of 27 square miles.
    1966 Franklin School House, Emerald – Sold on August 27, 1966
    1966 Addition to Peters Elementary
    1959 Construction of new high school, 600 North Diamond Street, Slatington
    1956-57 Lynn-Heidelberg seniors will finish final year at Slatington High School
    1955-56 Last school year the children from Northwestern Joint School District(Lynn-Heidelberg) would be attending Slatington High School
    1954 Construction of Peters Elementary, Friedens
    1954 Addition of Slatedale Building
    1953 On August 20, 1953, a joint school agreement was made between the Blue Valley Union School District and the Washington Township School District known as the Northern Lehigh Joint Schools. From 1953 to 1966, three Board meetings were conducted each month; the Blue Valley Union School Board, the Washington Township School Board, and the Northern Lehigh Joint Schools. The Board of the Northern Lehigh Joint Schools was comprised of representatives from the two school district’s Boards.
    1953 Construction of new Walnutport Elementary School, Lincoln Avenue, Walnutport
    1952 On July 7, 1952, a merger between the Slatington School District and the Walnutport School District became reality. The new school district became the Blue Valley Union School District. Washington Township School District remained as before.
    1937 Construction of Smith Hall Athletic Complex
    1918 High School (Lincoln Building) rebuilt
    1917 Fire destroys high school (Lincoln Building)
    1916 Construction of New High School, Second and Main Street, Slatington
    1911-12 Construction Slatedale Elementary School, Slatedale, Washington Township
    1906 Construction of Roosevelt Elementary School, Walnut Street, Slatington
    1905 Construction of Franklin School House, Emerald, PA , Washington Township
    1897 New High School (Kuntz Alley) – Future Lincoln Building [Student enrollment – 777]
    1890 Construction of a two-story brick structure, 50’ x 50’, four classrooms, Grammar School, Fairview Avenue, Slatington
    1883 Addition to Second and Main Street Building – 47’ x 50’ – two-story structure
    1879 Addition to Second and Main Street Building – 25’ x 45’ – two-story structure
    1872 Purchased property – Emerald, PA, Washington Township on April 20, 1872
    1868 Construction - Two-story brick structure, 47’ x 50’ – dedicated August 30, 1868 – Second and Main Streets, Slatington [Student enrollment -- 200]; Lincoln Avenue, Walnutport, PA (Whitehouse School)
    1857-67 Welsh Church, West Church Street, Slatington; Presbyterian Church, Slatington; Lehigh Slate Co. Store, 2nd Floor, Slatington; Home of Moses Kuntz, Slatington
    1820 First school – Old Stone Mill, Lower Slatington