The legacy of William Penn is wide-ranging. As an institution, it has had a powerful impact on generations of black families in High Point and the surrounding communities.Its alumni have worked across the nation and the globe as medical and legal professionals, educators, business leaders, public servants, and international diplomats. Its memory has a powerful influence on a variety of communities in the city, from the alumni who gather every year to celebrate their alma mater to the current high school students who attend Penn-Griffin School for the Arts (PGSA), which stands on the same site and inhabits the same buildings as William Penn As part of an ongoing consideration of the legacy of William Penn, these PGSA students, many of whom helped to create the mural commemorating the 1960 sit-ins that adorns the lobby of their school, offer their thoughts about what William Penn means to them.
“The legacy of William Penn-Griffin is the introduction of diversity in the school system showing how diversity can work together without separation.”
Aaron G. (12th Grade)
“I think William Penn’s legacy is to fix problems without violence."
Amirah S. (9th Grade)
“William Penn is remembered as one of the schools that started hopes and dreams. It’s a place where you can be who you are and not be afraid to show your true colors.”
Daniela L. (9th Grade)
“The legacy of Penn-Griffin has become a place that shapes people into better versions of themselves. What the students that came before us represent continues to resonate with us and makes us want to inspire others as they did.”
Camille C. (9th Grade)
“The legacy of William Penn is how the school strived as a whole to make a more accepting school and community.”
Chris K. (9th Grade)
“To me, William Penn’s legacy is the expressive and passionate students. The students who grow everyday while learning and experiencing the outs.”
Hanna B. (12th Grade)
“The legacy of William Penn is seen throughout the entire school because we are very culturally diverse. Being that Penn was a Quaker, he would have wanted to see a school full of different people all learning to pursue their artistic dreams.”
Morgan J. (12th Grade)
“The legacy of William Penn has allowed Penn-Griffin, to continue to thrive as a diverse, welcoming school for the arts. I am able to have friends from different backgrounds, races and religions. This has led me to be more open-minded and continue to live my life judgment free.”
Tatyana S. (12th Grade)
"I think the legacy of William Penn is that it started off being an all-black high school that supported its students in all aspect of life. John Coltrane also attended the high school and his career is centered in the arts."
Akira H. (10th Grade)
"I believe that William Penn’s Legacy was about individuality and creating your own path. Here at Penn-Griffin as a student you are surrounded by different personalities and open minds with different dreams and goals.”
Kaylin C. (12th Grade)
I think the legacy of William Penn is courage. We have had students come through this school who have made large impacts in their communities and even the world. We have had musicians like John Coltrane who left their mark in music. The students who fought for equality in the February 11th sit-in. All of these students passed on a legacy of courage to do big things.”
Zander A. (12th Grade)