Student newspaper of Strath Haven High School

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Student newspaper of Strath Haven High School

Panther Press

Student newspaper of Strath Haven High School

Panther Press

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A 40-year past inspires Haven’s future

For teachers who have been here from the beginning, reminiscing highlights values to uphold 40 years into the future.
Kaitlyn Ho ’26
A collage shows the schedule of a Panther Pride lesson, the symbol of Strath Haven in the corner of a varsity arts letter, a whiteboard of math, and snippets of the Clubs and Activities Google Sites. Strath Haven is widely known for its robust music and arts programs.

Past, present, and future—some things about Strath Haven will never change.

It’s impossible to imagine what Strath Haven will be like in 40 years without wondering what Strath Haven was like 40 years ago.

Strath Haven was formed through the union of Nether Providence High School and Swarthmore High School, opening its doors as a merged school in the 1983-84 school year.

Music teacher Mr. John Shankweiler, who will be retiring this year, has been here for nearly all of the years since.

“I think the most exciting part of it is that I came in at a time when the program needed to be rebuilt,” Shankweiler said. “And in many ways, it was easy to come into that. There was no string program at all, in the district… I started strings at all the three elementary schools.”

Spanish teacher Mrs. Staci Gawne, who has been at the school for more than 30 years, feels that the student experience was vastly different from how it is today.

“I think at that time, there was way more time for just fun and high school stuff. And I feel like it was more like the movies, just like the homecoming and the dances—I felt it was different, just more relaxed,” Gawne said.

Technology is just one component of Strath Haven that has quickly evolved since its conception. Imagine what it will be like 40 years from now.

“I think [Strath Haven]’s going to be changed dramatically,” history teacher Mr. Richard Foulk, who has taught at Strath Haven for 32 years, said. “But do I even want to try and imagine what that is? 40 years, just the educational technology stuff is so different. And again, where we thought we were going to be 40 years ago is not where we’re at.”

Gawne remembers use of older technology, such as overheads, which were similar to today’s projectors.

“If you would have asked me thirty years ago, what would school be like now, I could have never imagined what it is, because there were no computers,” Gawne said. “There were no cell phones, iPhones, there was nothing when I started. So I couldn’t even imagine.”

Despite changes in technology, there are core aspects of Strath Haven that have sustained since the very beginning. Shankweiler hopes that those aspects will continue to be prevalent in 40 years.

“It was always about innovation and being different when I started here,” Shankweiler said. “Very much a quirky school district… It was a public school but yet had a private school flavor to it. Everybody’s quirkiness was embraced, and that was a big thing.”

Foulk believes Strath Haven harbored a special spark that made it stand out from the other schools.

“I think [Haven’s uniqueness is] changing. And I would agree with [Shankweiler]. It was different, and I think we were unique,” Foulk said.

Principal Dr. Greg Hilden would like to see music, academics, and strong relationships continue to be valued in the future, especially student socialization.

“I think you don’t want to lose human contact, right?” Hilden said. “We live in society because we are humans who relate to other people. I think there are alternate ways of educating people that are unique and fulfill a need for some people. But I think that we can’t lose the socialization piece.”

When Hilden was introduced to Strath Haven four years ago, he noticed an unusually high number of alumni tended to return to re-engage in the community.

“I’ve not been anywhere else where so many people come back to the school where they grew up, and want to be a part of it. And I think that says a lot about the identity of the school,” Hilden said.

The more eccentric parts of Strath Haven may be what attracts students to come back, and in 40 years, perhaps the students of today will feel the same.

“Can I just say, I hope Haven keeps its unique characteristics?” Shankweiler said. “Not playing to the masses but embracing the individual uniqueness of every student.”

“If we lose our character, we lose what makes us special,” he said. “We are a little bizarre, and we love it.”

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About the Contributor
Kaitlyn Ho '26
Kaitlyn Ho '26, Managing Editor of Web
Kaitlyn Ho is the current managing editor of web and the health and sciences editor of The Panther Press. Her first article was on the German Exchange Students. There was no turning back after that. She loves to learn about communicating complex science in simple ways, reading, dancing, artificial intelligence, and playing (badly) the piano and cello. Her future self can confirm that she will laugh at and enjoy every single thing her past self wrote.
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