Gladstone History: 1970s


by JaQuay Edward Carter, Founder and President of the Greater Hazelwood Historical Society of Pittsburgh

Two city high schools - Fifth Avenue and Gladstone - were scheduled to close after the 1975-76 school year, after only 18 years serving in that capacity.

The closing was part of wide-ranging changes tied to the opening of the $23-million Brashear High School in Beechview, the city's most extensive realignment of schools since Allderdice High School was built in 1927. It was believed that the plan would help to integrate schools, produced partly to satisfy the State Human Relations Commission, which had been pressuring the school board to desegregate since 1968. The main building and annex of Gladstone School were built long before integration was even thought of. Hundreds of Hazelwood students would join together with 800 black students from the Hill District and 1,700 white students at Brashear. There were major concerns from parents in putting so many students together from different parts of the city. 

Gladstone students entering 7th and 8th grade were to be sent to Greenfield Elementary; those in grades 9-11 would go to Carrick High (if from the Burgwin school area) or to South High (if from the Gladstone school area). All students at Gladstone Elementary would now attend Burgwin Elementary after the 1975-76 school year. The Hazelwood students traveling the furthest would be the group of former Gladstone pupils reassigned to Carrick, traveling 6.6 miles. Helen Miscimarra, school board member tried to block the closing, arguing that the closing would "undermine the survival of Hazelwood as a neighborhood and create a source of vandalism."  

A Monday January 12, 1976 letter to the editor of the Pittsburgh Press reads,  

"We in Hazelwood are concerned about the harm caused our children by closing Gladstone and bussing them to already crowded schools in Greenfield, South Side, and Carrick. Proponents say that Hazelwood students can travel 6.6 miles to Carrick in 15 minutes. Have they ever bothered to take into consideration the heavy traffic in our locale at those hours of the day? What they are doing is helping to destroy our community. We have tried to show very important reasons to keep Gladstone open. Gladstone is the most racially balanced school in the Pittsburgh school district. The school is structurally sound and well maintained. We have a swimming pool (our elementary children will be sent to a school without a pool or cafeteria. Our seniors would be uprooted and forced to graduate from a strange school (many of them have attended Gladstone for 12 years). This is very important to them. Most important, we have 800 students who get along pretty well. But this seems to mean nothing to the board". - Written by William Stanziano, chairman of the Gladstone High School Parents Club    

The fate of the community, the school, and its students was uncertain. There was a major fight to make use of the building, keeping Gladstone open as a middle school, or at all. Pittsburgh School Superintendent, Jerry Olson stated that the enrollment of 239 students was "too low" to run a quality program at Gladstone Middle School. The school was originally scheduled to close altogether in June of 1976, but after months of testimony from neighborhood parents, the school board voted unanimously to keep Gladstone open with a limited enrollment until a feeder pattern was established and the buildings renovated, making Gladstone a full-fledged middle school.   

Emma CurtisComment