History of Stetson
The original Stetson Middle School opened as South Junior High School serving grades 7-9 in 1959. In 1962, the building was named after Dr. George Arthur Stetson, the retiring Superintendent of Schools. In 1977, Stetson became a middle school serving grades 6-8.
A native of Crawford County, Pennsylvania, Dr. Stetson held an undergraduate degree from Allegheny College in Meadville, a master's degree from Columbia University in New York City, and a doctorate in education from the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. He taught for a time in Titusville High School and was superintendent of the Titusville schools just prior to coming to West Chester as the newly appointed superintendent in 1938. He was the fourth superintendent of schools, serving 24 years from 1938 to 1962. Over that period, he saw numerous changes, including the growth West Chester schools from an enrollment of 2,454 to 6,526 students. The latter figure included the joint enrollment of youth in West Chester's secondary schools before the district was consolidated.
Perhaps the biggest challenge that faced Dr. Stetson during his superintendency occurred when the old West Chester High School at Church and Washington Streets was destroyed in a fire in December 1947. Dr. Stetson was responsible for guaranteeing an uninterrupted education to the students who lost their classrooms, textbooks, and school records. He did this by arranging double sessions for junior/ senior high school students in the adjacent, undamaged West Chester Junior High building.
Dr. Stetson oversaw the construction of a new high school that forms the core of Henderson High School today. He also oversaw the construction of three new junior high schools, including South. In addition, he was responsible for integrating the borough's all-black Gay Street Elementary School and for integrating the all-white junior/ senior high school faculty. He was active in the YMCA and the Rotary Club in West Chester. He died March 21, 1977, at the age of 80. His obituary in the Daily Local News stated he "gently maneuvered the overall curriculum into one of the finest in the state."