History of the Northampton Area School District
The largest number of early settlers that came to Pennsylvania arrived from Germany as the result of political and religious upheaval at home. William Penn offered these settlers religious freedom that many could not find at home. These early arrivals moved in great numbers to the Lehigh Valley and took up farming to practice a life that was unavailable to them back home.
By the 1880s, the descendants of these settlers and more found themselves sitting on very fertile soil that also had huge layers of some of the greatest limestone deposits the world has ever seen – rock that was perfect for making cement.
This resulted in an explosion of cement plants, 62 in all, that in these early stages worked with limited technology and depended on manual labor. A labor shortage sent most of these plants to Eastern Europe in order to meet the labor needs of the plants.
When these workers arrived, they found a large portion of the citizens here spoke a form of German called, by us, Pennsylvania Dutch. In fact, a major factor in the creation of the Free Public-School Act in Pennsylvania was an effort to teach English to the families of German extraction.
High Schools in our area actually sprang up during the same time as our cement plants. As these high schools began to identify with school mascots or identifying labels, Northampton chose the name Konkrete Kids.
The name has stuck for more than 100 years. It was based on the feeling that cement being produced here was used to make buildings and bridges and more – wherever strength in building materials was required. The cement became concrete, but the Pennsylvania German that was still spoken here into the late 20th century, along with the many Eastern European workers who could speak German, applied their spelling so it became Konkrete. It just helped that they could match it with Kids.
In 1922, Northampton was the center of the world’s cement industry. The Atlas Portland Cement Company was the world’s largest cement producer and contributed to projects such as the Panama Canal, the Empire State Building, and the Holland Tunnel just to name a few. Many German, Austrian, Slovaks, Polish and other Eastern European immigrants came to the area to work in the cement plants. Individuals within the Northampton Area School District worked long hours to support their families. They took pride in their schools and community because they endeavored to provide their children with the education they were unable to achieve.
The Northampton Area School District athletic teams were composed of tough blue collar young men and women. They were referred to as the Konkrete Kids. In honor of the immigrants, the spelling of concrete was changed to konkrete, the spelling as it appears in the German language. The Konkrete Kids name was solidified when the football team carried their gear in cement bags from the Atlas Cement Company. In addition, the Borough of Northampton is home to the Atlas Cement Museum, a tribute to the cement industry of the area.
Northampton Area School District is located in the heart of the Lehigh Valley. Covering 97.3 square miles in Northampton County, the school district is comprised of the boroughs of Bath, Chapman, and Northampton; and the townships of Allen, East Allen, Lehigh and Moore. The population of the district is more than 38,500.
The school district is located 10 miles from the cities of Allentown and Bethlehem, 70 miles from Philadelphia and 90 miles from New York City. There is easy access to major roadways, including the Pennsylvania Turnpike, Interstate 78, Route 22, Route 145, Route 329 and Route 248.
The District currently serves approximately 5,500 students through four elementary schools, a middle school, and a high school.