Raiders, Vikings, Cougars, Little Dutchmen, Cedars, and Falcons: together, they make up public schooling in Lebanon County.
All photographs by Will Trostel.
There are six school districts in the county’s public school system: Eastern Lebanon, Northern Lebanon, Palmyra Area, Annville-Cleona, Lebanon, and Cornwall-Lebanon.
As part of an ongoing series of articles documenting the area through drone photography, LebTown has gathered dozens of pictures of the districts, plus the now-closed private school Lebanon Catholic, over the last few months. Here’s where the county’s 20,000 public students are being educated in 2020. (Did we miss your school? Email us at [email protected] and we’ll try to feature it in a future story.)
Eastern Lebanon County School District
Eastern Lebanon County School District, better known as ELCO, is located in Myerstown. The district encompasses Jackson, Heidelberg, and Millcreek Townships and the boroughs of Myerstown and Richland. Students may attend Fort Zeller Elementary or Jackson Elementary School from kindergarten through second grade. From there, it’s on to ELCO Intermediate School (grades 3-5), ELCO Middle School (6-8), and finally ELCO High School (9-12).
The intermediate, middle, and high schools are all located in close proximity on a wide plot of land between Weavertown Road and Evergreen Drive. Over the summer, several of the district’s facilities, including the high school and Fort Zeller, underwent renovation work.
According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), 703 students were enrolled at ELCO High School during the 2018-2019 school year, 604 at ELCO Middle School, 572 at ELCO Intermediate School, 307 at Fort Zeller, and 248 at Jackson Elementary, adding up to 2,434 students in all.
Current ELCO graduate Janet Keens shared her perspective on attending school in a pandemic in the 2020 spring semester as a senior. Earlier this summer, intermediate school music teacher Holly Serio was recognized with Lebanon County’s 2020 Teacher Impact Award.
As ELCO Raiders, student athletes compete in football, baseball, basketball, bowling, cross country, and more. The school colors are blue and gold.
Northern Lebanon School District
Northern Lebanon School District is the largest district by land area, which measures up at 144 square miles. Students hail from Jonestown Borough and Cold Spring, Bethel, East Hanover, Union, and Swatara Townships. East Hanover, Fredericksburg, Jonestown, and Lickdale Elementary Schools serve students from grades 1-5, while the middle school and high school handle grades 6-8 and 9-12, respectively.
East Hanover Elementary counts 176 students, Fredericksburg Elementary 218, Jonestown Elementary 490, and Lickdale Elementary 193. Northern Lebanon Middle School enrolled 528 students in 2018-2019, while the high school enrolled 674. In all, the district counts 2,302 students.
According to the district’s webpage, Northern Lebanon was formed in 1955 from five separate school districts of the area, and the new high school was ready for classes by the fall of 1958. Northern Lebanon’s athletic teams are the Vikings, and it shares its school colors of blue and gold with ELCO.
In March, the district hired an architectural services firm to perform a feasibility study on its six schools’ facilities. Later in the summer, the school announced its three-choice plan for returning to school, which included all in-person classes, online classes, and a hybrid option.
Palmyra Area School District
The Palmyra Area School District contains six schools servicing North and South Londonderry Townships and Palmyra Borough. Its four elementary schools (Forge Road, Northside, Pine Street, and Lingle Avenue) run from kindergarten or first grade through fifth grade. The Palmyra Area Middle School (grades 6-8) is situated right in the town between RailRoad and Locust Streets, while the high school (grades 9-12) sits nearby between Park Drive and Campbelltown Road.
NCES data reveals that, in the 2018-2019 school year, 351 students attended Forge Road Elementary, 246 attended Northside Elementary, 365 attended Pine Street Elementary, 626 attended Lingle Avenue Elementary, 889 attended the middle school, and 1,141 attended the high school, making, in all, 3,618 students.
In the field of sports, Palmyra’s students are known as Cougars and boast orange and black as school colors. The high school offers two new turf fields this semester, the result of a $5.6 million project that was worked on over the summer.
In August, the district announced its plans for reopening its schools: full in-person classes for elementary students and an alternating day schedule for middle and high school students. Back in 2019, the US News & World Report ranked Palmyra Area High School 76 out of 688 schools in the state.
Annville-Cleona School District
The Annville-Cleona School District comprises an area including North and South Annville Townships and Annville and Cleona Boroughs. Its schools include the Annville and Cleona Elementary Schools and the Annville-Cleona Secondary School, which acts as both middle and high school for district students.
Cleona Elementary includes kindergarten through grade 2, followed by Annville Elementary for grades 3-6, Annville-Cleona Middle School for grades 7-8, and Annville-Cleona High School for grades 9-12.
At Annville Elementary in 2018-2019, 444 students were enrolled; at Cleona Elementary, 303; at the middle school division, 242; and at the high school division, 455. In all, 1,451 students attend the district, making it the smallest of the six by enrollment. Like Lebanon Valley College’s Dutchmen, Annville-Cleona students are nicknamed Little Dutchmen on the field.
In August, former HACC Lebanon Executive Director Laurie Bowersox began her new position as the principal of Annville-Cleona Secondary School. Bowersox was named to the Lebanon County Commission for Women Hall of Fame the same month. Shortly into the star of the new school year, Annville Elementary School was found to have structural damage and students of the school are temporarily attending class at the secondary school on an alternating day schedule.
Lebanon School District & Lebanon Catholic School
Lebanon School District was previously covered as part of a photo story on downtown Lebanon. The district serves Lebanon residents and is the smallest of the six by area. Its schools include the Northwest, Henry Houck, Southwest, Southeast, and Harding Elementary Schools (for students in pre-kindergarten up to grade 5), the Lebanon Middle School (grades 6-8), and the Lebanon High School (9-12).
Enrollment data shows that in the 2018-2019 school year, 688 students attended Northwest, 385 attended Henry Houck, 537 attended Southwest, 501 attended Southeast, 646 attended Harding, 1,097 attended the middle school, and 1,390 attended the high school. In all, that’s 5,267 students, the biggest student body of any district in the county.
The Lebanon Cedars represent the school on the field, a reference to the well-known species of tree native to the country of Lebanon.
The private Lebanon Catholic High School is located on Chestnut Street. When it closed at the end of the 2019-2020 school year and went up for auction, many alumni showed their support for their alma mater with rallies, public gatherings, and more.
The future of the campus is still up in the air. Some locals, including bidders Tom and Joya Morrissey, are holding out hope that the school will still be used for Catholic education in Lebanon. Meanwhile, the Lebanon School District is eyeing the space as a way to more evenly spread out its large student body.
The campus is notable for containing the historic Donaghmore Mansion, an estate of some of the city’s well-known families.
Cornwall-Lebanon School District
Rounding out the school districts is Cornwall-Lebanon, which LebTown previously included as part of a tour of South Lebanon.
The Cornwall-Lebanon School District enrolls students from North Cornwall, North Lebanon, South Lebanon, and West Cornwall Townships as well as the boroughs of Cornwall and Mt. Gretna. Its schools include the Ebenezer, Cornwall, South Lebanon, and Union Canal Elementary Schools, Cedar Crest Middle School, and Cedar Crest High School.
According to the NCES, Ebenezer counted 628 students in the 2018-2019 school year, Cornwall counted 547, South Lebanon counted 595, Union Canal counted 418, Cedar Crest Middle School counted 1,141, and Cedar Crest High School counted 1,569, making for a total of 4,898 students, the second largest student body behind Lebanon.
The middle and high school are located next to each other off of East Evergreen Road. Cedar Crest Falcons represent the school in sports, and the school colors are blue and gray.
In November of 2019, the district purchased almost 90 acres of farmland across from the middle and high schools. Back in June, a Cedar Crest alum received media attention for a N95 mask disinfection procedure while studying at the California Institute of Technology.
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