History of Obama Academy

History of Obama Academy

2/23/22, Cora Myers (Sophomore)

This year marks the tenth anniversary of the first graduating class of Obama. Let’s look at the history of our building and school.

Peabody High School was part of the Pittsburgh Public Schools and was opened in 1911 in the neighborhood of East Liberty. The school opened after renovations of the former Margaretta Street Elementary School and was then rededicated in honor of Benjamin H. Peabody (Highland Park Doctor). Two major renovations were made to the building, the first in 1925, and the second in 1975. The 1975 one is more apparent to us as it covered up the Classical Revival facade with bricks, installed narrow orange lockers, and filled in the courtyard with a cafeteria and library. After 100 years in operation, the school board voted to close the school and graduate its final class in 2011.

Peabody High School. Credit: Chellee Siegel

However, many things happened prior to Peabody becoming Obama. Where did our student body originate? And why do we honor Schenley High School in our history? 

5 years after Peabody was established, PPS opened Schenley high school, located in Oakland at the edge of the Hill District. Schenley was the first high school in the U.S. that cost over $1,000,000 to build. The Schenley sports teams won many city and state championships, including 5 state basketball titles. In the early 1980’s Schenley underwent a huge transformation. It gained the International Baccalaureate program, and the school was rededicated as the Schenley High School Teacher Center. This was an innovative program where district teachers had opportunities for continuing education and would cycle through the school to update current teaching methods.     

In 2008, Schenley High school closed due to severe maintenance problems. This came after an immense renovation bill came to light. In 2009 the Frick Middle School and Schenley High School combined and moved into the old Reizenstein Middle School building. The freshmen, sophomores, and juniors who were enrolled in Schenley when it closed graduated as Schenley students. The Schenley name was not retired until its final class graduated on June 12, 2011. In 2012 Obama Academy found a permanent home in the former Peabody high school building beginning in the 2012-2013 school year.

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