A Brief History of
William Penn High School
Written by Tony Graham
William Penn High School has a long, rich hertitage of raising High Point youth.
Opened in 1891 as High Point Normal & Industrial Institute. It's mission was to educate African-Americans in High Point, NC. The property where high school is built began operations in 1910. William Penn High School, as it would become known, continued operations until 1968 when it was closed due to the desegregation of High Point Public Schools.
T. Wingate Andrews High School (T.W.A. or Andrews) owes much of its culture and legacy to that which started at William Penn. Many of the faculty and staff that opened Andrews High School doors in the fall of 1968 came from William Penn High School. Mr. Sam Burford, headmaster (principal) at the William Penn or sometimes more affectionately just Penn from 1933 until its closing, was chosen to head-up Andrews as the school's first principal. T.W.A. would become the "poster child" of integrated education as North Carolina's first school built for the intention of integrating children in high school. Mr. Burford and his staff in his 35 years at William Penn, like Mr. J.Y. Bell, director of bands at both institutions, built a legacy of educating the "best and brightest" launching many of their graduates to national and international prominence. This legacy continues at Andrews.
Later transformed into an alternative school by High Point Public Schools, William Penn's culture changed. It was no longer the school of prominence that its legacy was to known. It became known as a place that High Point sent "its problem children". Until Guilford County Schools, Greensboro City Schools and High Point City Schools merged and re-established Willam Penn as an anchor for its Performing Arts Magnet School in High Point, the Penn-Griffin School of Performing Arts.
To pay homage to Mr. Burford, those who came before him and the many William Penn alumni and staff who have paved and continue to pave the way for our community, Elite Performance Sports NC, Inc. has named its youth athletics programs, the Piedmont Tigers to acknowledge each and everyone who understands and understood what being a William Penn Tiger means and has meant to the Greater High Point and Triad communities and beyond. We want our youth to understand and honor the legacy that many Penn alumni have left for all of the citizens of High Point and world.