SALTSBURG — There was a lot of activity Saturday at the school on the bluff.
Kiskiminetas Springs School — that was its name when Kiski opened in 1888 — celebrated its 125th anniversary with a full day of scheduled activities.
According to Denise Bender Klavon, director of communications at The Kiski School at Saltsburg, more than 500 friends and alums and their families were on hand for the occasion.
News of the event piqued my interest since my family lived at Kiski and that was our home the first seven years of my life.
My mother and father worked in the kitchen at Old Main, where he was the head chef and she was his assistant.
They are both mentioned in two books that were written about the school, “Kiski: The First 100 Years” and “Kiski, The Story of a Boys’ School.”
I vividly remember growing up on the beautiful campus that was pretty much shielded from the outside world.
Everything was right there.
There was no grade school at Kiski, so I walked to school in Saltsburg every day with other grade-schoolers who had parents who were faculty members or worked there.
It didn’t seem like such a long hike as we walked through the woods, down the steps next to Kiski Falls, across the bridge and up the hill to the Saltsburg school on Market Street, which at that time housed all 12 grades. Mostly I recall watching the football team play. Kiski was rated one of the top prep school teams in the nation and many former players went on to become stars at Division I schools.
There are 12 Kiski players in the College Football Hall of Fame, including former University of North Carolina coach Carl Snavely.
The 1949 team especially, with Olympics decathlete Bob Mathias at fullback and Harry Stuhldreher Jr. — whose father, Harry Stuhldreher Sr., also a Kiski graduate who went on to become one of the “Four Horsemen” at Notre Dame — was exciting to watch.
Chuck Klausing, legendary coach at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, came out of retirement to coach Kiski football in the early ’90s and won the Interstate League Championship in 1993.
There were many other Indiana connections at Kiski School.
Founders of the school were Andrew Wilson Jr. and Robert W. Fair.
Wilson married Beth Sansom, daughter of the editor of The Indiana Democrat newspaper.
From 1913 to 1930 the school prospered under the leadership of The Big Five, and one of its members was Frank D. St. Clair, who was born in Indiana and attended Indiana Normal School.
Sam and Nell Jack were deeply committed to Kiski School and both served on the board of trustees.
John Pidgeon made Indiana his home when he retired after 46 years as headmaster at Kiski. His daughter Regan Pidgeon Houser is currently employed at IUP.
Kiski has come a long way since the doors were open in 1888 with 26 boys in grades 7 through 12. There was one building on campus and the tuition, room and board was $400. There were six faculty members. Today there are 204 students in grades 9 through 12 with a post-graduate year for Naval Academy students. The campus has grown to 18 buildings and there are 42 members on the faculty. Tuition, room and board today is $48,300 for U.S. students and $52,050 for international students.
The school currently thrives under the leadership of Chris Brueningsen.
Happy 125th, Kiski.