Gladstone History: 1980s and 1990s
by JaQuay Edward Carter, Founder and President of the Greater Hazelwood Historical Society of Pittsburgh
In 1980, Gladstone Junior High had become one of the city's magnet middle schools for the performing arts.
It had a predominately white enrollment, with the racial balance expected to be near 50-50 in the following years. 763 students were attending from Hazelwood, West Mifflin, Greenfield, the lower Southside, Brushton, and Arlington Heights.
In the 1990s, the school began staying open in the evenings in order to serve the community. Gladstone was open five nights a week, with Mondays containing the busiest evening class schedule. Eleven classes were offered during the week at no charge or for small fees in addition to basketball and swimming programs.
A Pittsburgh Post-Gazette article from November 29, 1993 reads:
“It’s 7:30 on a Monday night, but the classrooms, gymnasiums, and swimming pool of Gladstone Middle School are far from empty. In the Hazelwood school, which would have been dark at this time a year prior, Brian Elliott, 10, is making puppets in room 134. Jeanine Nagy, 13, is beginning to master a computer keyboard under an instructor's guidance in the next room. Two floors up, five women in sweat pants, and other casual clothes giggle in a small gym as they fiddle with the steps of country-western swing dancing. Elsewhere in the building, a dozen adults have just completed water aerobics, and 10 youths are getting a police officer's advice on drugs, alcohol, smoking, and other issues. In all on this night, about 100 people will pass through the Gladstone Community Center, a pilot program. The program was designed to make use of otherwise empty school buildings, giving children and adults access to more educational and recreational activities within their communities.”
A 1999 headline reads, "Gladstone's Youth Culinary Program a recipe for community involvement." The school was now functioning as a middle school and a community learning center, providing evening classes for kids and adults, just like it once did in the 1920s. However, Gladstone officially closed in 2001, despite protests from neighborhood residents and leaders. The Rev. Michael Murray, who lives nearby, said, "No community can succeed highly when they lose a valuable pillar, such as a good community school." Those words still hold true to this day as we fight another round to restore and preserve one of Hazelwood's most valuable pillars of the past.