Guido: Kiski Area celebrates golden anniversary

An aerial shot of Kiski Area High School on Aug. 15, 1962, several weeks before the school opened. Kiski Area will celebrate its 50th anniversary Oct. 4-6, 2012. VND file photo
An aerial shot of Kiski Area High School on Aug. 15, 1962, several weeks before the school opened. Kiski Area will celebrate its 50th anniversary Oct. 4-6, 2012. VND file photo
Photo by Valley News Dispatch
| Wednesday, Sept. 26, 2012, 12:36 a.m.

It's hard to believe Kiski Area High School has turned 50.It seems like just yesterday when Vandergrift and Bell-Avon high schools consolidated. Kiski Area became even bigger in 1966 when the former Washington Township High school joined the fold.

To commemorate the golden anniversary, Kiski Area has an array of events scheduled for the weekend of Oct. 5-6.

• Oct. 4: A 50th anniversary Homecoming bonfire and pep rally at 7 p.m. at the high school.

• Oct. 5: Spirit Day in all school district buildings with pep rallies. Everyone is urged to wear Kiski Area colors.

• Oct. 5: Homecoming parade from Vandergrift Elementary School through downtown Vandergrift to Davis Field at 6:30 p.m. Many of the past homecoming queens will be introduced.

• Oct. 5: Football game against long-time rival Norwin at 7:30 p.m. Norwin is a fitting opponent since the rivalry dates to 1962 in the old Foothills Conference. Kiski Area has an all-time record of 19-7 vs. the Knights.

• Oct. 6: A 5K run through downtown Vandergrift at 9 a.m.

• Oct. 6: High school open house from 10 a.m. to noon. How disappointed will the alumni be when they find out the infamous Kiski Area tunnel no longer exists?

• Oct. 6: Gala dinner at 7 p.m. at the Clarion Hotel, New Kensington. For tickets, go to At the same time, students will have their homecoming dance at the old high school gym.

The school district started in 1958 when each municipality had its own school district. Each borough and township was asked to send people to serve on a joint school board. The 48-member joint board was winnowed down to the current format of a nine-member board.

Gateway-Altoonameet again

Gateway and Altoona met last Friday night with the Gators posting a 42-7 victory.

The Gators (4-0, 4-0) are No. 2 in this week's Trib Total Media Class AAAA poll.

On Nov. 22, 1969, the schools met for the WPIAL title at Pitt Stadium, with Gateway winning, 22-15.

While last Friday's encounter may have been a key Quad East Conference game, it did not have the sociological impact of the 1969 game.

Until that 1969 Gateway victory, there was a belief around the WPIAL that a team from one of the post-World War II boom suburbs, such as Monroeville, couldn't win a championship.

Up until then, students from places such as Gateway, North Allegheny, Thomas Jefferson and Upper St. Clair were thought of as soft and spoiled with the suburban lifestyles — lacking the toughness of kids from the industrial, riverfront towns.

But Gateway and coach Pete Antimarino had other thoughts.

Mark Campbell, whose son played for Franklin Regional, had 80 yards rushing and Mike Devine added 74 yards on the ground. Quarterback Rich Hrenka was 4 for 4 passing, all to Dave Jagdmann.

Dave Bechtold intercepted a pass late in the game to preserve the Gateway victory.

Altoona had just rejoined the WPIAL in 1969 after a 25-year absence, and 1969 proved to be a watershed year in that community.

Long a railroading town, Altoona experienced an economic decline after the Penn Central Railroad declared bankruptcy in September 1969.

George Guido is a Valley News Dispatch scholastic sports correspondent. His column appears Wednesdays.

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