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 School 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
First Black Cheerleader
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
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:
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.
you to everyone so far for their interest.
Don't forget to send in your stories,
photographs and reminiscences of high school
days in Harrisburg.
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
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.
Share your memories about African
American community life
in the Harrisburg area--write
Kimberly A Ross-Seals to Afrolumens Project, 18
October 2005; November 15, 2005.
Correspondence, Calobe Jackson, Jr. to Afrolumens
Project, 19 October 2005.
Correspondence, Jim Avery to Afrolumens Project, 19
Correspondence, James Hoffman to Afrolumens Project,
9 May 2006.
Correspondence, Leah Burnette to Afrolumens Project,
15 September 2006.
for more information
For more football material, see our
first page of Harrisburg
High School memories, and our photographs
and memories from Sheila Green-Stevenson.
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.