Alumni of Keith School plan reunion
August 13, 2014 10:49 AM
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School is in, for one final time, for students from Indiana University of Pennsylvania’s John A.H. Keith School.

All students who attended Keith School, as well as the school’s former teachers, are invited to a reunion on Oct. 18.

It’s also a goodbye of sorts.

When IUP’s new building for the College of Humanities and Social Sciences is finished in January 2016, Keith and Leonard halls will be razed. For more than three decades — from 1939 to 1972 — Keith housed the campus laboratory school, named in honor of John A.H. Keith, who led Indiana State Normal School (now IUP) from 1917 to 1927 before leaving to assume the state’s highest education post.

During that time, more than 1,000 students in kindergarten through grade 10 studied there, and countless IUP student teachers and others did practice teaching.

In 1972, the school moved to the university’s Davis Hall, and the University School (as it was known) housed kindergarten through grade six. It was closed in 2001.

The reunion will start at 10 a.m. with refreshments, including Capitol rolls, made famous by the former Capitol Restaurant in downtown Indiana. The day’s events continue with a program at noon in the demonstration room, lunch at 1 p.m. in a tent adjacent to Keith Hall and campus tours from 2 to 3 p.m. provided by the IUP Ambassadors. The building will remain open until 4 p.m. for self-guided tours.

Invitations have been mailed to former students for whom addresses are known.

Elaine Reschini Judge (Keith School Class of 1958) and Margie Derwart Van Dyke (Class of 1957), both of Indiana County, are co-chairs for the reunion.

“The connection between the ‘Keith brats,’ as we were called in those days, is so strong,” Van Dyke said. “We’ve had mini-reunions before, and everyone just picks up where they left off. There’s a real feeling of closeness, like a family. Everyone that has gone to the Keith School thinks we are the luckiest students in the world.”

The school had its own alma mater and yearbook, the Acorn. There was no fee to attend Keith School in its early years.

“There’s a sense of contagious enthusiasm within the class about the reunion and about being back in Keith,” Van Dyke said.

In preparation for the reunion celebration, Keith School alumna Jacquie Jones Watkins (Class of 1958) designed an ornament with elements of the former Keith School, and Pittsburgh-based Tom Pollard Designs created the ornament in brass. It is available through the IUP Co-op Store for $12 or can be purchased at the reunion or pre-ordered through the reunion registration form.

Registration for the reunion is required by Sept. 29. The cost for refreshments and the luncheon is $23 per person.

Former students and student teachers who would like to register, or former students or teachers who did not get an invitation or who would like to receive more information, should send an email to or call (800) 937-2487.

In addition, the planning committee is collecting memories from students who attended Keith School. Memories may be sent to Kathy Rend Armstrong, 117 Greenview Drive, Indiana, PA 15701, or via email at by Aug. 29.

Other reunion committee members besides Armstrong (class of 1956), Judge, Van Dyke and Watkins, are Nancy Rend Bender ’46, Karen Philippi Gresh ’61, Carol Long Haldin ’53, Naomi Kipp ’54, Marianne Park Kuzneski ’60 and Linda Bordas Nance ’63.

PHOTO: Keith Hall, which housed IUP’s John A.H. Keith School for more than three decades, will be torn down once work is done on the new Humanities and Social Sciences building.
(Teri Enciso, Gazette)

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