Montgomery County

Abington High School Does About Face: Not Changing Its Name to Include Billionaire Schwarzman After All

Some Abington residents are still interested in what the agreement with the billionaire fully entails.

Abington High School becoming Abington Schwarzman High School is not going to be happening after all.

School officials in the Montgomery County town announced earlier in the week that the high school would change its name to include the last name of a billionaire, Stephen Schwarzman.

Schwarzman, an alumnus of the school who made his fortune in New York City finance, promised to donate $25 million to the high school. It has been called the largest donation to a single high school in the country.

As part of the agreement between the district and the billionaire, the school board agreed to rename the high school to include Schwarzman's name. 

There was immediate backlash in the community, and the district on Saturday rescinded the name change, according to a letter from the superintendent to the community.

"The donor's representatives conveyed that nothing should detract from our important mission and agree that the school's name should remain as is," Superintendent Amy Sichel wrote in the letter dated March 31.

Some in the community were struck by the sudden announcement of the name change following a vote at the local board. The name change had previously not been publicly discussed in the weeks since Schwarzman announced he was donating the massive sum to the high school, residents said this week.

It became part of the agreement between the district and Schwarzman that the board approved.

"On behalf of the Abington community, I would like to express my sincere thanks to Mr. Schwarzman for his generosity and vision surrounding the project," Sichel wrote

The donation will fund "a full-scale renovation" of the high school, including the addition of a new science and technology center, according to the district, which noted that the money will also go toward an "expanded and innovative curriculum in the evolving workforce."

"Abington will revamp its existing curriculum to ensure students are prepared for the nation's fastest growing industries," according to the district's initial announcement of the donation posted Feb. 14.

One Abington resident, Theresa Keenan, who has a son at the high school, said Saturday that the name change is only part of the discussion many in the community are having about the $25 million donation.

"People may think that now that the name change isn't happening, that this is over," Keenan said. "But there are a lot of other elements. He is looking for some sort of curriculum input. That's a private citizen who would have say over what is taught in a public school."

The school district was closed Thursday and Friday, and will be closed Monday, for the Passover and Easter holidays.

Contact Us