$1.2 million needed to reopen William Penn pool

Jason Addy

York City School District officials and local lawmakers are teaming up to raise enough money to reopen the swimming facilities at William Penn Senior High School.

The swimming pool at William Penn Senior High has been used as a storage room for several years. (Photo: Jason Addy)

York City Mayor Kim Bracey and York County Economic Alliance CEO Kevin Schreiber, along with state Reps. Carol Hill-Evans, D-York City, and Kristin Phillips-Hill, R-York Township, will help York City school board member Juanita Kirkland and her husband, Kerry, coordinate a fundraising drive to raise $1.2 million to renovate the swimming pool and diving tank at the school.

From the podium, York City Mayor Kim Bracey and York County Economic Alliance CEO Kevin Schreiber thank York City school board member Juanita Kirkland and her husband, Kerry, for starting a drive to raise $1.2 million to repair the swimming pool and dive tank at William Penn Senior High. (Photo: Jason Addy)

School officials are hoping to reopen the facilities in January 2019. The pool must be made two inches longer and two inches wider in order to meet Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association standards for competition.

The money will be raised through volunteer efforts, alumni contributions and corporate sponsorships, including naming rights for the renovated natatorium, Kirkland said at a news conference Thursday, meaning the renovation will not generate a tax increase for York City residents.

A working pool will give students the opportunity to learn the basics of swimming and water safety, while the school will be able to compete with other schools in the area and offer new physical education classes that promote “lifelong activities that assist in healthy living," William Penn Principal Brandon Carter said.

“This would allow our school to again become the beacon of the York community,” Carter said.

Five former All-American swimmers were at the news conference to represent William Penn’s past greatness in swimming.

Fourth-graders from McKinley K-8 attended to represent the future Hall-of-Fame swimmers and divers who will come out of William Penn Senior High once the pool project is completed. The students showed their pride and excitement with a loud “Bearcats!” roar when introduced to the audience.

The negative message sent to students by the unused swimming facilities is undeniable, Bracey said, with students made to feel like they aren’t worthy of a pool.

“Swimming shouldn’t be considered a luxury for our city kids or any kids for that matter, particularly when the infrastructure is right in their faces,” said Bracey, a William Penn Class of 1981 alumna.

The swimming pool was built in 1971 and closed eight years ago, Kirkland said. Since then, it has been used as a storage space for unused desks, chairs, tables and filing cabinets.

The renovation project is about exposing youth to opportunities and providing new academic and athletic programs that will have an economic impact on the city, said Schreiber, a former state representative.

Schreiber said he is incredibly proud to be leading the fundraising effort and hopes it will bring the broader York community together to restore the York City School District.

“We’re asking everyone in the community at large to dive in, to jump in both feet first. We plan to make a splash,” Schreiber said, recognizing the laughs and groans his puns were eliciting. “We will lap the competition by building a giant pool of resources.”