New plaque is dedicated to Penney High School

By Frances Taylor - Staff Writer
East Hartford - posted Fri., Feb. 17, 2012
A new plaque marking the location of the former George Penney High School, which is now East Hartford High School, was recently dedicated. Photo by Frances Taylor.
A new plaque marking the location of the former George Penney High School, which is now East Hartford High School, was recently dedicated. Photo by Frances Taylor.

Many East Hartford High School students may not know it, but the halls they pass through every day once belonged to a school of a different name. From the 1960s to the 1980s, it was George J. Penney High. East Hartford High School was actually several miles away, where East Hartford Middle School is located today.

Penney High School alumni, who held their first reunion last September, have long wanted their school and the man it was named after to be remembered, and a plaque dedicated to Penney High School was installed in the main corridor at East Hartford High School during a brief ceremony on Feb. 7. Russ Collins, who helped to lead the Penney reunion effort, said the plaque was paid for by Penney alumni.

From 1962 to 1985, students from East Hartford's south side went to Penney High School, and those from the north side attended East Hartford High School. Throughout the 1960s and 1970s, the two schools enjoyed a fierce sports rivalry.
As the baby boom began to taper off during the 1980s, the town made the decision to close one of the high schools. Penney High, which opened in 1965, was closed in 1985. Penney High School became East Hartford High School, and East Hartford High School became East Hartford Middle School.

Penney High was named after George J. Penney, a well-known public works director for the town who died of a stroke at the age of 47. During his time, he oversaw the construction of 14 of the town's schools. Penney High was built in 1962 and named to honor him. Penney High's legacy to East Hartford High also includes the school mascot - the Hornets - and the school colors, black and gold.


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