Wilmington High Red Devils, from 1901 to 1999

           Wilmington High School on Delaware Ave., from 1901 to 1960 

Wilmington High School on DuPont Rd. and Lancaster Ave. 1961 to 1999



   The class of 1912 was the first graduating  class to wear cap and gowns: the colors were not the "Cherry and White' but Black"

     Anyone who graduated before 1949 might be asked the question: were you a member of the January or June class? From 1924, until 1949, two separate graduations were held. This dated from the 1880s, when class were organized twice a year. Students finishing school in January wouldn't graduate until June.  In 1924 it was decided that those who completed classes in January should graduate in January.

   The first real Wilminton yearbook , produced fifty years afer the school had opened, was the Senior Annual of 1924 which contained the usual information about the senior class, the schools athletic teams and clubs.

    During the Depresssion and Wold War II, yearbooks were not published. The students couldn't afford to buy them during th Depression: and due to a paper shortage, yearbooks were a luxuary the effort couldn't permit. They returned 1945 with a new name, The Cherry and White. 

     Before yearbooks made their appearance at Wilmington High, another literary work fulfilled the need to recognize departing seniors. The WHISP, which stands for Wilmington High School Paper, first published in 1914, endured until 1960. In 1917, a copy of th WHISP cost fifteen cents: a year's subscription, or five editions, was fifty cents. It was a bargain at any price!

     In 1923 the Traffic Squad was created. This group of students was responsible for the traffic inside as well as outside the building. The T.S. ensured that their fellow students were not late to class , cleared the halls, and seated students for assemblies. It was a real honor to be on the Traffic Squad.

    The Late Court made its first appearance in 1941 and last into the sixties. Comprised predominantly of seniors, it was responsible for students who arrived late for school. A tardy student had to report to the Late Court and serve fifteen minutes for each late arrival.

   The Thespians, Drama Club and the interestingly named Citamard ("dramatic"spelled backwards) Club in 1928 provided students with the opportunity to participate in dramatic performances. Students with musical skill performed with the orchestra and the award-wining band and choirs.

    What would high school have been like without dances? Wilmington had all of the standard ones, i.e., Prom, Home-coming, Ring Dance, King and Queen dance as well as many others. What's more, students attending High School from the 1930s until 1960 dances could dance each day in the gym during lunch period. Some preferred to gaze down on the dancers from the second floor track that surrounded the gym. (Me and most of the jocks would just watch,) except Mario Renai...

    Of course you can't forget the famous Snake Dance at all the pep rallies and Victory celebrations. (I was always playing football, we were not allowed to go)...even though I cheated sometimes and went down to Canby Park and see the Big bonfire...It was a memorable sight. Students lined up one behind the other and paraded through the streets of Wilmington. Routes varied over the years, but one took the students from Canby Park, down 4th Street up Market Street and on to the "old" Wilmington High on Delaware Ave.

   Seniors at Wilmington High developed several of their own traditions...none of which was more entertaining the Senior Odd Day. For over forty years, seniors took a day and made it theirs. On Senior Odd Day, all of the seniors made and wore a hat of the same style or a more elaborate costume which they would autograph for each other. They posed for photographs in front of the school, had fun and generally took the day off. Here's a photo of 1949 Senior Odd Day in WHS's gym:


     When Wilmington High was still located on Delaware Avenue, students might take time off and walk to a movie theater to catch a matinee. Wilmington being a small city, this was not without risk, some did get caught! Pop's, Lindsay's Place and the Chocolate Shop were student soda shop hangouts near the school. Farther away there was Sandy's at 4th and Broom Streets, (my old hang out:-) 

    Because of its longevity, Wilmington High numbers among its alumni several generations of family members. Some of the teachers were like family, too. The year of his senior prom, in the thirties when money was scarce, Pete Grandell was not going to attend because he couldn't afford a tuxedo and all of the other trappings. Miss Anne Cain, one of Grandell's teachers, came to the rescue, providing him with the tuxedo, a ride and most importantly, a date for the prom. Teachers made the school the great place that it was...who was your favorite teacher? Mine...Miss Anne Cain also, she was a Wonderful human being, always had a smile on her face!

     Wilmington High School Alumni Associations began in 1875 with the first graduating class. The first annual reunion was held at the Clayton House at 5th and Market Streets. (Then a hotel, this building later housed the Queen Theater.) The Alumnae Association was formed in 1886. Over the years the associations have grown and prospered. Former students came together and shared memories of a simpler time. (One group meets every 2nd Friday at Delcastle Golf Course, check out the Calendar page)...These memories are the lasting tradition of good "ole" Wilmington High!


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