Pine Forge Academy Celebrates 70 Years
Story and photos by LaTasha Hewitt
In the 1940s, Elder John H. Wagner, Sr., former Allegheny Conference president, envisioned a boarding school in the North where African-American high school students could attend without the racial issues of schools in the South. After purchasing the 575-acre Rutter Estate near Pottstown, Pa., the conference opened Pine Forge Institute on September 9, 1946, with 90 students.
Last weekend the school, now Pine Forge Academy (PFA), celebrated Alumni Weekend and 70 years of existence during the weekend themed “Legacy of Excellence.”
The weekend kicked off Friday afternoon with a career day featuring PFA alumni who shared information about their careers and gave advice to current students. That evening attendees attended an evening vespers themed, “A Moment in Time: ‘Black in the Day'.” The honor classes of 1956, 1966, 1976, 1986, 1996 and 2006 performed special music, and alumni of PFA’s creative arts program provided a dramatic performance.
The Sabbath School program, presented by the Class of 1976, focused on “Remembering Pine Forge Academy” with a play, lesson study and tributes to their class sponsor, Verna Hill, and their deceased 1976 classmates.
Worship service followed with a roll call of classes, special welcomes from officials, musical selections from the PFA and Alumni Mass Choir. Senate Chaplain Barry Black (’66) (pictured) also preached “Striving to Be First by Finishing Last.”
A special highlight of the Sabbath service was special guest Lynda Johnson Robb, daughter of Lyndon Baines Johnson, 36th president of the United States. Members of the Class of 1966 invited her to honor her father’s commitment to social equality during their time at Pine Forge Academy.
The celebration continued that evening with an Awards Program and Concert, a 70th anniversary banquet, and an alumni versus current students basketball game.
On Sunday, the day started early with a “Race for the Forge” 5K Run/Walk to benefit the academy’s facilities.