Germantown High's rich history

Before leading the "Tonight Show" band, Kevin Eubanks hit the books in Germantown High's historic halls.
Before leading the "Tonight Show" band, Kevin Eubanks hit the books in Germantown High's historic halls.
Posted: June 20, 2013

NEXT YEAR, the empty and quiet halls of Germantown High School will turn 100. The generations of students who called Germantown home will be gone, leaving behind only the school's rich history.  


Located on the same space since 1914, with a large addition built in 1965, Germantown's brick-and-stone facade is an example of Georgian Revival architecture.

Industrial beginnings

Germantown High was born into an industrial, working-class neighborhood. Its job was to turn out graduates ready to step into industrial jobs.

According to a district report from 1922, the students trained in a joinery shop, turning shop, pattern shop, chipping and filing shop, forge shop and a machine shop that was called one of the finest in the city.

Civil rights

In 1967, Germantown students began a citywide protest calling for an increased focused on black studies.

In 1972, Martin Luther King High School, into which Germantown will be folded next year, opened its doors to students from the Germantown and Mount Airy neighborhoods.

Originally, the district planned to conduct an experimental pairing of the two schools to create a unified student body with kids from middle-class and poorer neighborhoods. Students would attend MLK for the ninth and 10th grades, then move to Germantown for grades 11 and 12.

Protests from students and families prevented the plan from coming to fruition, and an intense rivalry between the schools began.


On the athletic fields, the Germantown Bears never won a state championship, but the football team won six Philadelphia Public League titles, most recently in 1999.

The school's men's basketball team won the city title in 1964, beating Cardinal Dougherty, 77-62.

Famous alumni

* Bill Cosby, who attended the school before dropping out and joining the Navy.

* Kevin Eubanks, class of '76, the director of Jay Leno's "Tonight Show" band.

* Ralph Roberts, founder of Comcast.

* Penn State and NFL player Charlie Janerette, the first African-American to play against Alabama.

* Linda Creed, class of '66, songwriter who penned "Stop, Look, Listen (To Your Heart)" and "Greatest Love of All."

* Lola Falana, singer, dancer and actress, who left school just months before graduating in 1961 so she could pursue her career in New York.

On Twitter: @JCMoritzTU

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