By the beginning of the 20th century in Reading there was an urgent need for a Catholic secondary school. In order to meet the advanced academic needs of the Reading high school-age population, St. Peter High School was founded in 1911. St. Peter’s High School was housed in the elementary school building at 225 S. 5th Street.
On June 25, 1914, the first annual commencement of St. Peter’s High School was celebrated. The graduates were: Grace E. Dow, Anna M. Hasson, Raymond C. Kohl and Aloysius P. McGran. Rev. John F. Kiernan, rector of St. Peter’s Catholic Church, presented the medals and diplomas. On bended knees the graduates accepted the honors and bowed to the audience on their return to their seats.
By 1930, the Pennsylvania Department of the Commonwealth accredited St. Peter’s High School as a first-class high school.
Catholic education was in its prime in the early 1960s. Overcrowding at Central Catholic High School and St. Peter’s High School necessitated the need for another High School.
In 1961, Bishop Joseph McShea, of the newly created Allentown Diocese, inaugurated a massive building campaign which culminated in the construction of three new high schools: Bethlehem Catholic High School in Bethlehem, Marian High School in Tamaqua, and Holy Name High School in West Reading.
On May 6, 1963, a ground breaking ceremony marked the start of construction of a new Roman Catholic High School what would become Holy Name at Wyomissing Boulevard and McClellan Street in the 18th Ward.
St. Peter’s High School closed its doors permanently in June 1964. The final graduating class numbered 26 students and took place on June 4, 1964.
Below: The last class to graduate from Reading Catholic High School walks along 5th Street to St. Peter’s Catholic Church for commencement exercises. (June 14, 1964).
In the Fall of 1964, when Holy Name High School was built, students from Central Catholic were divided: Students on the East side of 5th Street stayed at Central Catholic, and Students on the West side were to switch over to the new Holy Name. Seniors had the option of finishing their last year at Central Catholic or moving to Holy Name. St. Peter Catholic students all went to Holy Name.