This is the fifth in a series of articles about the history of Norwin and its school system, written by Dr. Ronald B. Surmacz with original research by C.C. Pearsall.
In 1896, Otis J. Warnock of Larimer, was elected Township School Superintendent for a period of three (3) years. He reorganized the schools, including the system of grading used. His reforms were controversial and often denounced from the pulpits of local churches.
During his term in office, the first phonetic system of reading was introduced. The first township commencement was held April 22, 1898, the class consisting of fourteen members. Annual commencement exercises were held by eighth grade pupils promoted to the high school.
On August 15, 1899, the Township Board elected C, M. Slease to fill the office of truant officer, to deliver the supplies to the township schools during the school term and to have charge of the overseeing and supervising of teaching in the schools. From this position developed the title of “supervising principals.” Supervising principals were used for nearly 40 years until the position of Superintendent was reestablished. From 1899 to 1937, the Township supervising principals were:
- C.M. Slease, 1899-1901
- J. S. Best, 1901-1906
- C. G. Pierce, 1906-1909
- John A. Hay, 1909-1910
- J. D. Pierce, 1910-1912
- E. D. Hickman, 1912-1915
- James Hughes, 1918-1921
- R. W. Clawges, 1921-1932
- H. E. Brumbaugh, 1932-1934
- C. C. Piersall, 1934-1937
In 1937, Mr. Piersall was elected to be the Superintendent.
In the fall of 1916, “Norwin” opened its doors for its first term. Professor Samuel Fausold, who had come to Irwin High School as principal in 1914, served as the first principal of Norwin High School. There were ten (10) faculty members serving a student body of 340. The students came from North Huntingdon Township and Irwin Borough primarily, but also from North Irwin, Penn Township, Sewickley Township, Manor and Trafford.
In 1922, Mr. H. E, Brumbaugh succeeded Mr. Fausold as principal. During his term of twelve (12) years, the last three (3) as supervising principal, three important changes occurred. First, the agriculture course was discontinued in 1923 because of the decrease in the number of students it served. In 1931, due to overcrowded conditions and prospects of increasing enrollment, a double session day was instituted as the second change. School began at 8:10 a.m. and closed at 4:50 p.m. At mid-term, the schedule was reversed so that the groups which attended the morning session the first semester attended the afternoon session during the second semester. The third change came with Mr. Brumbaugh’s election to supervising principal for North Huntingdon and Irwin and the election of Mr. Jack W. Clawson to the position of assistant principal in February of 1932.
PHOTO: View of historic Norwin Union High School, circa 1929, Irwin, Pennsylvania. Norwin Historical Society/Jean Soyke Collection.