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District » History of the Lakeland School District

History of the Lakeland School District

During the 1950s, a trend began within the educational systems of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. When the Upper Valley/Lakeland Jointure was created in 1959, there were 2,227 school districts in the State. Act 561 of 1963 was created to streamline the amount of school districts through mergers or consolidations. Act 299 added financial incentives to school districts by providing special payments to united or consolidated schools. For the 1949-50 school year, there were 2,530 school districts across Pennsylvania.
Effective on July 1, 1959, the Mayfield-Carbondale Township School Jointure was expanded with the inclusion of the Jermyn District to form a consolidation known as the Upper Valley Jointure.

The first meeting of the Upper Valley Joint School Board of Mayfield Borough, Jermyn Borough and Carbondale Township was held on July 17, 1959 in the Home Economics Building at Mayfield with the following members present: John Rogari, Michael Guzey, Andrew Shurminsky, Bernard Fedor, Joseph Para, William Kresock, Milton Friedman, Frank Green, Samuel Mattise, Thomas Perry, Wallace Hrapchak, James Orlando, Paul Casey, Mr. Dipple, and Delmar Rosemorgey

The officers of the new jointure were: Milton Friedman of Jermyn, President; Thomas Perry of Mayfield, Vice president; Wallace Hrapchak, Mayfield was Secretary, and William Kresock, Carbondale Twp was elected Treasurer.

The merger had a direct bearing on athletics in all participating districts. The jointure was to be represented by one basketball team and one baseball team, instead of separate teams for individual districts. The basketball team in the fall of 1959 played as the Upper Valley Falcons.

Feasibility studies for consolidation had been under study for more than two years. A petition requesting approval of the merger was submitted to the State Department of Public Instruction June 22, 1959, and approval was granted on July 3 with the effective date set as July 1, 1959.

The original plan was to have two high schools, one each in Jermyn and Mayfield, while maintaining a pair of elementary schools in Mayfield and one each in Jermyn and Whites Crossing. The district also housed a home economics building.

On August 23, 1959 the Greenfield Township school directors voted to join the Upper Valley School District and an agreement was signed on August 24, 1959, by the School District of the Borough of Mayfield, the School District of the Township of Greenfield, the School District of the Borough of Jermyn, and the School District of the Township of Greenfield.

The agreement established a joint school board known as the Upper Valley Joint School Board. The general purpose of the agreement was to maintain one high school center housed in two buildings and to maintain elementary schools in each of the component districts. Plans were made for the construction of an annex building at Jermyn High School or a Junior-Senior High School to accommodate all high school pupils. However, in order to receive state funding, a district had to have a student population of 1,600.

While each school district was to contribute to the Jointure all physical school property including buildings, furniture, books, and supplies, title to existing real estate remained in the names of the respective districts in which the real estate was located.

Although the Joint Board was authorized to adopt a budget and pay all expenditures, all funds were to come from each of the four school districts which retained the power to levy taxes and pay their share of the expenditures of the Jointure.This resulted in the oddity of the school districts of Mayfield, Jermyn, Greenfield, and Carbondale Townships as well as School Board of the Jointure, conducting contiguous meetings from 1959 until June of 1969.

Greenfield added its student population of 180 to the Mayfield-Carbondale Township-Jermyn Jointure which had an enrollment of 750 students. The Supervising Principal of the Upper Valley Jointure was Joseph Grzywacz of Mayfield and Richard G. Speicher, supervising principal at Greenfield, was appointed as high school principal of the jointure.
On December 11, 1959 The Upper Valley Joint School District was increased to five members when Scott Township entered the jointure. The jointure continued to use high schools in Jermyn, Mayfield and Scott Township while plans were discussed for a new junior-senior high school in the Chapman Lake-Heart Lake area. The enlarged district consisted of approximately 1,600 pupils, 70 professional employees, 15 bus drivers and 15 nonprofessional employees.

On December 18, 1959 the Joint Board appointed Dr. Peter M. Mensky as Supervising Principal, Mr. Joseph Grzywacz as Secondary Education Principal and Mr. Richard Speicher as Elementary Principal of the new Jointure.

After a general discussion about the name of the new Jointure, it was agreed to vote on two choices: Lakeland and Lakeview. The final result after each board member was polled: Lakeland – 12 votes; Lakeview – 10 votes.

The new district was to be known as the Lakeland Joint School District. Milton M. Friedman of Jermyn was elected President, Thomas J. Snyder of Scott Twp Vice President; Maurice Gardner of Greenfield Twp. Second Vice President, Wallace Hrapchak of Mayfield Secretary, and William Kresock of Carbondale Twp as Treasurer.

With the addition of Scott Township the Jointure named a committee to survey locations in the area of Chapman and Heart Lakes for the building of a new high school.

On January 15, 1960, the Joint Board Officers were: President Milton M. Friedman Jermyn ,1st Vice President Thomas J. Snyder Scott Township,2nd Vice President Maurice Gardner Greenfield Township,Secretary Wallace Hrapchak Mayfield, Treasurer William Kresock Carbondale Township,School Directors Carbondale Township: Paul A. Casey President, John Rogari Vice President, William Kresock Secretary, Joseph J. Para Treasurer, Bernard Fedor Member, Greenfield Township: Raymond Wells President, Maurice Gardner Vice President, Harry Rivenburg Secretary, Kirt O. Miller Treasurer, Edward Simpson Member, Jermyn: Frank T. Green President, Williard Seymour Vice President, Milton M. Friedman Secretary, Samuel Mattise Treasurer, Delmar Rosemorgey Member, Mayfield:James Orlando President, Andrew Shurminsky Vice President, Wallace Hrapchak Secretary, Michael Guzey Treasurer, Thomas Perry Member, Scott Township: William Matechak President, Joseph A. Lick Vice President, Thomas J. Snyder Secretary, Walter Phillips Treasurer, John Yckowski Member

On February 21, 1960 the Lakeland Joint School Board approved a broad athletic program that provided for football, track and a summer recreation program. The sports program of athletics approved by the joint board provided for one baseball team to represent the enlarged district and the creation of an athletic association to operate all athletic programs.

The school colors selected symbolized the union of the school districts various sports team. Prior to the Jointure, the Jermyn Blue Jays colors were blue and white, the Mayfield Warriors colors were red and white, and the Scott Scotties colors wee blue and gold. The colors of the Lakeland Jointure selected the color blue representing the Scott team, the color white from the Jermyn school, and the color red from Mayfield. The Lakeland Lakers colors were now red, white, and blue.

Both football and track were to be initiated on a junior varsity level for the 1960 season with the program gradually elevated to varsity status. The football program played its first varsity game in 1961.

The Joint Board of Directors unanimously passed a resolution authorizing the erection of a new junior-senior high school under the Lakeland Joint School Municipal Building Authority.Commencement exercises of the newly created Lakeland Joint School District were held for the first time Friday evening, June 10, 1960 at the Clarks Summit Abington Heights High School auditorium. The principal speaker was the Rev. Dr. Samuel J. Truscott, superintendent of the Methodist Children’s Home at Binghamton.

Members of the senior class were presented by Dr.Peter M. Mensky, supervising principal and diplomas were awarded by Milton M. Friedman, president of the joint board. Invocation was offered by the Rev. Thomas Kline, First Methodist Church, Jermyn, and benediction by the Rev. W. Basil Stroyen, St. John’s Russian Orthodox Church, Mayfield.

Valedictory addresses were given by three students who were at the top in their respective schools: Monica Washko, Scott; Ann Telech, Mayfield; and Susan Friedman, Jermyn.

In April of 1961 the Lakeland Joint School Board named an authority to supervise financing and construction of a $2,000,000.00 junior-senior high school. Named to the Board –known as the Lakeland Joint School Building Authority-were Raymond J. Caucci, Carbondale Twp;, Charles W. Avery, Jermyn; H.W. Persbacker, Scott Twp.; Samuel J. Dreater, Mayfield; and Alfred P. Wells, Greenfield Twp. The same month the site selection committee recommended to the Joint Board that a tract of land along Route 247 owned by Verna Merritt Wilson be selected for the building of the new junior-senior high school. The tract consisted of 1,643 feet of frontage along Route 247 and a depth of 1900 feet. Known as the Merritt Manor plot, the property contained a residence and two barns. Building of the school would be financed by the Lakeland Joint School Building Authority with the State paying about 54% of the total costs. In May of 1961 the Joint Board authorized the purchase of the entire property for not more than $35,000.00. Condemnation procedures were to be instituted if agreement on the sale could not be reached by the parties involved.

Despite breaking ground for the high school on October 21, 1961, the district didn’t take possession of the plot until November of 1962, when the Lackawanna County Orphans Court awarded Mrs. Wilson a payment of $58,500.00 for the 66 acres.

On December 4, 1961 at a regular meeting of the School Directors of the Scott Township School District, the directors passed a resolution to withdraw from the Lakeland Joint School District effective the first Monday of July, 1962. Joseph Krushinski, secretary of the Scott Township Social Club, said that many members of the association were against continuing in the jointure because of the expense involved in building a new school. The position of the club was that a six-room annex to the present Scott school can be constructed at less cost to the taxpayers. The Resolution for withdrawal was received by the Joint Board on December 22, 1961. On March 28, 1962 the Joint Board directed their solicitor to initiate proceedings against the Scott Township School District in the form of a Writ of Mandamus to order the Scott Township District to comply with the Articles of Agreement that the five member districts signed on December 11, 1959.

On August 16, 1963 the Lakeland Joint School Board appointed Richard Speicher as Supervising Principal.

Construction of the new school was officially stopped in September of 1966 due to the legal proceedings.

On May 23, 1967, a special meeting was called by the Lackawanna County School Board to discuss reorganization problems concerning thirteen school districts. The President of the Lackawanna Board, Frank T. Green was joined at the meeting by County Superintendent Peter M. Mensky and representatives from school districts representing Archbald, Blakely, Carbondale City, Carbondale Township, Dickson City, Jermyn, Olyphant, Scott Township, and Throop. Representing Carbondale Township was Bernard Fedor, Charles Peduto, and Fred F. Gilbert; from Jermyn was Arthur Wilson and Carl Tomaine; and representing Scott was John D. Nichols and Leo Turissini.

The members were unanimous in supporting the original proposed Lackawanna County School Board Plan of Reorganization passed in 1964, encompassing four units for the thirteen districts involved as follows: Unit I to be composed of Carbondale City and Fell Township, Unit II to be composed of Carbondale Township, Mayfield Borough, Jermyn Borough, Scott Township, and Greenfield Township. Unit III to be composed of Archbald Borough, Blakely Borough, and Jessup Borough. Unit IV to be composed of Olyphant Borough, Dickson City Borough, and Throop Borough.

Scott Township School Board approved the County resolution on June 9, 1967. On October 9, 1967 the school board withdrew their appeal pending in Dauphin County courts.

On May 1, 1968 an agreement was consummated by the School District of the Borough of Mayfield, the School District of the Township of Carbondale, the School District of the Borough of Jermyn, the School District of the Township of Greenfield, and the School District of the Township of Scott. All parties agreed to establish a joint school district known as the Lakeland Joint School District.

The agreement included an agreement to build a new elementary school in the Borough of Mayfield and to construct a new Junior-Senior High School in the general vicinity of Chapman Lake-Heart Lake Area. The agreement was signed by the president of each individual school board and attested by the secretary. The names are: Mayfield, Michael Guzey and Wallace Hrapchak; Greenfield, Christy White and Robert C. Dance; Jermyn, Frank T. Green and Carl Tomaine; Carbondale Township, Bernard Fedor and Wilbur J. Morgan; and Scott, Leo Turissini and Thomas Kraky.

On August 26, 1968 a resolution was adopted accepting Scott Township School District as a member of the Lakeland Jointure. On October 23, 1968 the Lakeland Joint School Board elected the following officers: Robert C. Dance, Greenfield Township as President; Carl J. Tomaine, Jermyn as Vice President; Wallace Hrapchak of Mayfield as Secretary, and Charles J. Peduto of Greenfield Township as Treasurer.

Articles of Agreement for the Establishment of the Lackawanna County Area Vocational-Technical Schools were entered into on the 6th day of December, 1968 by 17 School Districts. Among those approving the agreement were Carbondale Township School District, Greenfield Township School District, Jermyn Borough School District, Mayfield Borough School District, and Scott Township School District. On Wednesday, January 15, 1969 the County Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Peter M. Mensky held a special convention of Directors of the Lakeland Jointure to pick nine (9) members of the Joint Board to be the interim operating committee as authorized and directed by Act 150 of the School Board. The establishment of the unit was to be effective July 1, 1969.

The directors elected were: James Orlando, Carl Tomaine and Thomas Kraky to serve until the first Monday in December, 1969; Wallace Hrapchak, Frank Green, and Michael Sheridan to serve until the first Monday in December, 1971; Samuel Colosimo, Albert Fortuner Jr., and Leo Turissini to serve until the first Monday in December, 1973. At the January 24, 1969 meeting of the Interim Committee of Lakeland, the new officers elected were: Frank Green as President, Mike Sheridan as Vice president, Sam Colosimo as treasurer, and Wallace Hrapchak as Secretary. The Interim Committee of Lakeland approved the name of the newly formed school district commencing July 1, 1969 to be the Lakeland School District. At a special meeting of the Interim Committee held February 7, 1969, a resolution was passed dividing the Lakeland District into three regions, subject to the approval of the Lackawanna County Court of Common Pleas. The regions were: First District – Greenfield Township and Jermyn Borough with a combined population of 3,384; Second District – Carbondale Township and Mayfield Borough with a combined population of 2,823; Third District – Scott Township with a population of 2,747. On June 26, 1969 the Mayfield School Board held its last meeting. On a motion to adjourn sign die by Orlando seconded by Hrapchak was approved at 9:20 p.m. It was the last meeting of the Mayfield School Board due to the reorganization. The new school district would be the Lakeland School District. Similar motions were made at the other four school districts. The last meeting of the Interim Committee of Lakeland was June 11, 1969. The first meeting of the Board of Directors of the Lakeland School District was held July 11, 1969.

On October 7, 1969 a suggestion was offered by Leo Turissini that a new name or mascot be adopted for Lakeland Athletics. Supervising Principal Speicher reported that the matter was being discussed among students and others and soon the results would be known. In November of 1969 it was reported that the students in grades 9 through 12 at Lakeland schools selected the name “Chiefs”. On September 4, 1974 the new Lakeland Junior-Senior High School at Chapman Lake was opened. Elementary schools in Jermyn and Mayfield were eliminated with students from those schools moving into their former high schools. On November 17, 1974 the dedication of the new Lakeland Junior-Senior High School took place. The School Board consisted of the following members: President Samuel Colosimo, Vice President Andrew Hanchak, Secretary Arthur N. Wilson, Treasurer Albert Fortuner Jr., and members Frank T. Green, John Nichols, Thomas Kraky, James Orlando Jr., and Stanley Sowinski. Thomas J. O’Donnell was Superintendent, Robert E. Ghigiarelli was High School principal, and George H. Kinback was Elementary Principal.

On May 13, 1978, the Greenfield Elementary School on Route 247 was destroyed by fire. A plan was put into place to move the affected students to the high school and Scott Elementary School, where they would remain until the end of the following year. On September 5, 1979, the displaced students from Greenfield along with those of Mayfield and Jermyn attended the newly opened elementary school in Mayfield. The school, known as Lakeland Mayfield Elementary Building, was officially dedicated on November 25, 1979. The school board members were: President William D. Moore, Vice President Andrew Hanchak, Secretary John Nichols, Treasurer Francis Surace, and members Stanley Sowinski, Jerome Giles, John Wallinger, Albert Fortuner Jr., and Samuel Colosimo. The administrators were: Superintendent Thomas J. O’Donnel, High School Principal Robert Ghigiarelli, and Elementary Principal Carl Klach. With the opening of the Mayfield Elementary Building, the former Jermyn and Mayfield High Schools were closed. The Jermyn school is currently the Jermyn Community Center, while the Mayfield School was turned into an apartment building.

The new Lakeland Elementary School at Chapman Lake was opened on September 9, 1981. Students from Scott and Greenfield Townships attended the new school located adjacent to the high school. The Scott Elementary School became the Joseph Terry Civic Center, named after the late educator, coach and athletic director from both the Scott and Lakeland School Districts.

On September 4, 1976 the new Lakeland Junior-Senior High School Athletic Complex was dedicated to Dr. Peter M. Mensky, Executive Directive of the NEIU #19. The Board of Education consisted of: President Andrew Hanchak, Vice President Samuel Colosimo, Secretary John Nichols, Treasurer Albert Fortuner Jr., and members Frank T. Green, William D. Moore, John Wallinger, Stanley Sowinski, and Francis J. Surace. The administrators were: Superintendent Thomas J. O’Donnell, Secondary Principal Robert E. Ghigiarelli, and Elementary Principal Carl Klach. Included in the sports complex was a full-size practice football field, a football field for interscholastic competition, a baseball field, a general purpose physical education field and a quarter-mile track field with six running lanes enclosed by a four-foot fence, a three bus garage with weight training room and outdoor equipment storage rooms. On September 16, 1995 the Lakeland Field House Complex was dedicated in honor of Gerald Wasilchak. The new fieldhouse included public restrooms, a locker room for the Chief’s football team, a weight training room and a freshman football locker room. Board member Tony Carito was the driving force behind the new fieldhouse. The school board members were: President Richard Koruszko, Vice President John Brennan, Secretary William MacGregor, Treasurer Anthony Carito, Albert Mushel, James Black, Michael Costa,John Uram and Russell Parry. Administrators were: Superintendent Robert Ghigiarelli, Secondary Principal Alexander J. Chelik, and Assistant Principal Raymond Caucci.
The school board dedicated the new building and renamed the stadium the Jerry Wasilchak Athletic Complex in honor of the legendary coach. Jerry Wasilchak began his tenure at the helm of the Lakeland Lakers in 1965 and coached the Chiefs until his retirement as head football coach following the 1984 season. Improvements were made to the fieldhouse in 2010.

Thank you to Alexander J. Chelik, Class of 1960, major contribuing historian of the Lakeland History