The History of Pleasant Valley
Pleasant Valley’s first schools were one-room and two-room school houses. They were quite small and quaint; attended by only 20 to 30 students, with just one teacher in each building. The first step towards a school district was the opening of Chestnuthill High School in 1925. It provided families with a free public education for their children, so that they did not have to pay the high tuition charged at local private academies such as the Fairview Academy and the Gilbert Polytechnic School. The following year, the Polk High School opened its doors.
In 1935, the president of the Chestnuthill School Board, Clyde Deitrich, presented John C. Mills, a Pleasant Valley native teaching in Long Island, with the idea of creating a school district in the West End complete with elementary schools and one centrally located high school. Mr. Mills took up Mr. Dietrich’s offer and created a district where none existed. Many area residents vehemently protested the idea of having one high school. They did not want to see the closing of the 32 one-room and two-room school houses, which were typical of rural areas. During one building project committee meeting over 300 people packed the Chestnuthill gym to protest. Mr. Mills had brought three state representatives to support his cause; however, because the crowd was so immense and rowdy, the representatives walked out.
Eventually, it was decided that a new school district would be formed, so construction could begin. The location of the new building was intensely debated. S.S. Kresge, the founder of K-mart offered to donate land if the school was dedicated to his name, but that never materialized. Eventually, land was chosen on a cabbage patch farmed by Stanley Kreger, and 53 acres were purchased from Henry Thompson, Minnie Hill, and Grace Kretzing. The original high school, which cost $1.56 million, called for tennis courts and a slant roof to prevent leaks. Unfortunately, flat roofs were the style of the times and the Department of Education dictated everything, including the roof design.
The high school’s colors were a compromise of Chestnuthill High School’s blue and gold and Polk High School’s red and white. The name Pleasant Valley, suggested by school director Haiden Murphy, had been in use since colonial days to describe the scenic region between Kresgeville and McIlhaney. Bernard Thomas, the first principal of the high school, chose the bear as the mascot.
On September 26, 1960, Pleasant Valley Junior-Senior High School opened its doors to students in grades seven through twelve. Yet, no school district actually existed. What did exist was the Pleasant Valley Jointure School District, which was the combination of four townships not bound together under legal codes. The state soon passed a law called the Consolidation Act, which would channel students from schools with insufficient enrollment into other schools. Pleasant Valley High School would have been forced to divide its students into the Pen Argyl, Palmerton, Pocono Mountain, Stroudsburg, and East Stroudsburg High Schools, had Mr. Mills not befriended the chairman of the Consolidation Committee. The committee made Pleasant Valley an exception to state law. On July 1, 1966, Pleasant Valley School District was chartered by state legislation, and has remained so to this date.
Adapted from “The Legacy of Pleasant Valley High School” by Glenn Burney