Cheltenham High School’s graduation ceremony: 1885 & Now

Local historian Chuck Langerman has shared some “then and now” fun facts about Cheltenham High School’s first and most recent graduation ceremonies.

According to Langerman, the first graduating class of CHS held its commencement at Parvin Hall (pictured below left), the Sunday School Building at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, located at Old York and Ashbourne Roads in Elkins Park, on Friday, June 26, 1885.

The Class of 1885 consisted of four students: Kathryn E. Murphy, Anna L. Fenton, Gertrude Howard, and Robert S. Summers. Three of those four students went on to higher education, Langerman said.

According to the Cheltenham High School Alumni Association, the George K. Heller School at 439 Ashbourne Road (below right) became the first Cheltenham High School in 1884.

The building was originally constructed in 1883 to house the first high school, and was expanded in 1893 and 1906.

In 1953, the building became the Cheltenham Arts Center, and still serves the community today. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2001. 

Fast Forward 139 years

On Wednesday, June 5, the Cheltenham High School Class of 2024 held their commencement exercises on the high school football field.

From the district’s summary:

340 students crossed the stage to receive their diplomas. CHS woodwind and percussion played the processional, alma mater, and a number of other tunes, while the choir sang “Irish Blessing” and “Cheltenham, We Sing Your Praises.” Class officers did introductions and Darson Antoine was the featured student speaker. Class president Gabrielle McLeod also made remarks and led the class in the turning of their tassels.

According to the district, approximately 82% of Cheltenham High School graduates continue a program
of higher education, where 59% of the class enroll in 4-year colleges and 23% in 2-year colleges. The 16% that do not attend higher education enroll in the military, participate in a gap year or are employed full-time.

The full album from Wednesday’s ceremony can be found here. A video of the ceremony can be found below:

For all the latest news, follow us on Facebook or sign up for Glenside Local’s “Daily Buzz” newsletter here.

Photos: CSD, Cheltenham HS Alumni Association