Several readers have sent
inquiries about the history of the football program at Harrisburg High
School and its ancestor schools, John Harris and William Penn, which now
represent separate campuses of the school. Those schools, built in
1926, replaced the old Central and Technical High Schools. The
Technical High School building still stands as Old City Hall Apartments, taking its current name from its post
educational use for many years as Harrisburg's city hall, until the city moved
City Hall to
the King City Government Center on Second Street. The Central High
building, originally at Capitol and Forster Streets, no longer exists.
We welcome letters, reminiscences, feedback and general comments
regarding the topic. Send your comments to
Kimberly A Ross-Seals writes
The Harrisburg High Cheerleaders recently recognized the first black
cheerleader for William Penn High School at the Homecoming game this
past Saturday. They would also like to recognize the first
black cheerleader at John Harris High School. My father, Gary Ross,
and men of his age, were talking about this at the game and they
think it’s either Barbara Brown or Ruthie White. Would you or
Mr. Jackson know the answer? Thanks for all of your help.
How about it,
readers? Do you know the answer to this question? If so,
or if you have something to add to the conversation, please respond
to the email link below:
We sent out
some queries to the above question and received a few responses.
Calobe Jackson Jr. checked a 1957 yearbook but found that there were
no African American cheerleaders that year. Jim Avery of
Quechee, Vermont checked his yearbook. He graduated from John Harris
High School in 1966 and reports that senior Geraldine Hord was on
the cheer squad. Jim notes "You would think it was before
that," that the high school cheerleaders would have welcomed their
first African American member, but we will have to see if anyone
turns up earlier instances.
Thank you to
everyone so far for their interest. Don't forget to send in
your stories, photographs and reminiscences of high school days in
Kimberly A Ross-Seals writes back with the answer to the question
just wanted to let you guys know that I have been advised that the first
black cheerleaders for John Harris were Barbara Brown and Ruthie White.
This has been confirmed by a couple of graduates from the class of '63.
If anyone knows how to get in touch with them, could you please give
them my email address of
Mike Coleman adds
Your father, Gary "Skully"
Ross, was the best natural athlete ever to come out of the 'burg,
period, end of story. I graduated in 1959 with your uncle
Ollie and he was sensational also. Mike Coleman, WPHS, 1959
(March 15, 2006)
Jim Hoffman confirms
In regards to the
question of the first African-American Cheerleader at John Harris, I
think that it was Ruthie White from what I recall. I finished in
the class of "61". Please tell your dad I asked about him. We were
in school together along with Mike Settles, David Waters, Sam Mundy,
Melvin Elby, Floyd Manning and the list goes on. Jim Hoffman
Leah Burnette adds
I can confirm that Ruthie
White was indeed the first black cheerleader at Harrisburg High School.
How do I know this? She’s my mother!
I will let her know that you are looking for her. This project is
important and I am extremely proud to be even a small part of it.
your memories about African American community life
in the Harrisburg
Kimberly A Ross-Seals to Afrolumens Project, 18 October 2005; November
Correspondence, Calobe Jackson, Jr. to Afrolumens Project, 19 October
Correspondence, Jim Avery to Afrolumens Project, 19 October 2005.
Correspondence, James Hoffman to Afrolumens Project, 9 May 2006.
Correspondence, Leah Burnette to Afrolumens Project, 15 September 2006.
For more football material, see our
first page of Harrisburg High School memories,
photographs and memories from Sheila
Sheila has also sent an interesting article about the devotion that
Steelton residents have toward their high school football program.
Click here for that article.
Calobe Jackson, Jr. sent a photograph
and short bio of Dr. Charles Hoyt Crampton, medical advisor to decades
of Harrisburg high school athletes.
Click here to read it.