RIDLEY HIGH SCHOOL
Ridley High School
1001 Morton Avenue, Folsom, PA – 1966-2001
In 1966, Ridley Park, Eddystone, and Ridley Township School Districts joined together in a state-mandated merger, necessitating major changes. The Ridley Township Junior High School became “Ridley North” serving students of junior high school age who lived north of MacDade boulevard, while the former Ridley Park High School became “Ridley South” serving students who lived south of MacDate Boulevard in the former Ridley Park, and Eddystone Districts as well as those Township students from Crum Lynne, Leedom Estates, and parts of Milmont and Woodlyn.
At the high school, the additions referred to as the “A” Wing and the “B” (or “Stilted”) Wing were constructed. These wings, connected by two breezeways, provided additional classroom space, four rooms for large group instruction and audio-visual presentations, expanded science laboratory facilities, department office space, storage closets, and two separate offices (including darkroom facilities) for the newspaper and the yearbook. These wings would later house a T.V. studio and a radio station, foreshadowing Ridley’s present prominence in technology. High school enrollment continued to grow by leaps and bounds during the late ‘60s and early ‘70s reaching its peak in 1975 when the 274,275-square-foot building served more than 2,400 students and graduated 940 seniors from the Sun Center in Feltonville. The year 1972 saw the construction of a new Ridley South Junior High School behind the existing facility and the demolition of the building that was once Ridley Park High School.
By 1979, Ridley boasted state-of-the-art language labs, a Learning Enrichment Program which exceeded the federal requirements, and a Career Center complete with programs, which “infused” career awareness into all grade levels. This year also marked the close of the Ridley North Junior High School and the repurposing of that building into the Ridley Community Center. The year 1980 marked the beginning of a new tradition, as graduation was held for the first time on the Phil Marion Field instead of inside the Sun Center at Feltonville.
Decreasing enrollment in the high school reached its lowest in 1989 when total high school population was just under 1,000. This decrease accommodated the movement of the ninth grade into the high school as the district, embracing the currently popular middle school concept, reorganized Ridley Junior High School into a facility designed to serve grades 6-8.
In the 1993-94 school year, the Ridley board of School Directors purchased state-of-the-art technology financed through a community bond issue, and the high school initiated the first of several changes in the bell schedule resulting in shorter lunches, longer classes, and a six-day cycle. By 1995 grades and attendance were transmitted directly from classroom computers to an administration building server for the first time in Ridley history. Ridley also logged on to the Internet.
After two years of training in techniques such as cooperative learning, technology integration, learning accommodations, along with visitations to other schools, and department planning, Ridley made the move in 1997 to intensive scheduling—each student rosters four 85-minute classes per day with a 30-minute lunch period and study halls were eliminated. Paraprofessionals were hired to handle non-instructional duties such as cafeteria duty, hall supervision, and detentions. Each faculty member spends all of his or her time teaching or preparing to teach.
By the year 2001, student enrollment was expected to increase to approximately 2,000 students and will remain in that range for years to come. Many rooms that once were classrooms were being used for computer labs, the T.V. studio, the theater program, an alternative school program, a gifted education center, a career center, a large group meeting room, and various special education classrooms. New curriculum teaching techniques such as cooperative learning and interdisciplinary curriculums required more space and a new configuration. Also, the 1934 building, although still attractive from the outside, did no comply with the present Pennsylvania school code, was not completely handicapped accessible, and needed new plumbing, heating, wiring, and roofing.
When estimates for renovation of the present school proved only slightly lower than the projected cost of new construction, the Ridley Board of School Directors voted in October of 1997 to build a new school where the Ridley Community Center stood. Financed by a gradual increase in school taxes and by a community bond issue, groundbreaking began in spring 1999 following the demolition of the Community Center. The new high school opened in the school year 2001.
Designed to provide students with the best possible facility to prepare them for life and work in the 21st century, the building includes larger classrooms, a geothermal heating and air conditioning system, greater access to technology, a swimming pool, modern laboratories, improved media, library, choral, band, and drama facilities, and expanded athletic fields.
Thus, the end of a millennium marked the end of the lovely pink granite Neoclassic building which 63 years of graduating classes have called “alma mater.” A new millennium will watch The Green Mystique grow ever stronger in its futuristic new home on the hill.
901 Morton Avenue, Folsom, Pa – 2001 – Present
A new address, a new look, and continuing the traditions highlight the new Ridley High School. July of 2001 marked the beginning of the move from the old building to the new, $54-million one next door. One thousand boxes and a great deal of perspiration later, the Firpo Moving Company completed the short trip north on Morton Avenue. The remainder of the summer was spent unpacking and preparing the 349,500-square-foot space for students to occupy in the fall.
The beautiful new building opened on time and under budget for the start of the 2001-2002 school year. The seniors from the Class of 2002 were given the honor of being the first to attend classes in the building on August 28, 2001. Their day concluded with a class photo taken in front of the new high school. Juniors and sophomores had their own special day that included a scavenger hunt as a way to get to know the facility. The freshmen were on even footing with the upperclassmen when it came to finding their way around the school—the big difference was some being told to “turn right down by the swimming pool” (which actually were the true directions). Representatives from many of the school’s activities hosted a “Welcome Rally” for all the ninth-graders. All students were also given a Ridley Pide golf shirt to commemorate the day.
The new address and the new look of the building were complemented by the students’ new look. Coinciding with the opening of the building was the extension of the uniform policy from the elementary and middle levels to the high school. The high school organized a committee that created the uniform standards of dress policy. Students were expected to wear collared shirts, dress pants or skirts, and closed toe shoes. The committee left the choice of color to the students’ and parents’ discretion.
Being all dressed up, the district took the opportunity to showcase the high school. On Sunday, September 16, 2001, the dedication ceremony for the new Ridley High School was held along with an open house. Residents were treated to a complimentary lunch in the school’s new food court, The Raiders’ Den, and were given tours by student volunteers. Over 5,000 people were in attendance. Special lectures were also presented highlighting our school’s geothermal heating and cooling system and our technology infrastructure. Local clergy also held a memorial service in the school’s auditorium for the victims of the September 11th terrorist attacks in New York City, Washington D.C., and southwestern Pennsylvania. The building was not alone in getting public attention. The area designated for the outside flagpole was distinguished as a place for reflection. A memorial was designed for those former students within the community who made the ultimate sacrifice during a time of war. This hallowed location was dedicated on November 3, 2001.
These new observances, the updated ceremonies, and continuing other Ridley traditions were all part of the new facility. The Senior Awards Program marked the retirement of the honor trophies and the display of the new plaques for valedictorian, salutatorian, most representative girl and boy, and best male and female athlete. Each of these award winners was given a collector’s clock for recognition of these selections. The plaques are permanently mounted in The Great Hall. Due to the remnants of the construction project on the grounds, the commencement ceremonies for the Class of 2002 were held indoors. The gymnasium was converted to a formal concert hall, complete with a giant “RidleyVision” television screen. The new technology also allowed extra guests to view the live broadcast in the auditorium through the closed circuit television system. Drama and music programs continued to fill the house with their fall and spring productions. The publications of Archive, Green Raider, and Windscript repeated as award winners in their new expanded spaces. Athletic teams for girls and boys demonstrated success as Central League champions, playoff contenders, All-Americans, and in 2003 a state champion diver. Not lost in all of the new scenery was the commitment to maintaining a quality academic program.
If the early years in the new Ridley High School are any indication, the future of the Ridley School District will continue to reap great rewards. Alumni who walked the halls of either high school building will have cherished memories and share the common bond of “being green.”