MOUNT CARMEL - One hundred years ago - the countries of Europe had just set out toward the goal of annihilating each other in the opening battles of World War I. For Mount Carmel residents, the "big news" was something much closer to home - the dedication of their beautiful new high school.

"Dedication" is an understatement. What ensued was actually a gala community celebration. The school's official opening was marked on Labor Day 1914 with a series of events throughout the day. The three-division parade featured 2,000 borough elementary students among the marchers. An outdoor program followed in front of the new building, and an official dedication program was held in the school auditorium that evening.

Classes has actually opened at the "new" Mount Carmel High School a week earlier, with the enrollment reported at 190 (67 freshmen, 50 sophomores, 45 juniors and 28 seniors),

It was the class of 1914, not the class of 1915, that was the first to graduate from the new building. Because the auditorium was completed by then, 29 seniors - 20 girls and 9 boys - graduated from there in June 1914, even though they never attended any classes in the building.

The last senior class to have classes in the school at Third and Market - the class of 1977 - had 220 members. By then, commencement services were conducted at the Mount Carmel Area High School Stadium after a span in which they were held at the Victoria Theater on Third Street. The Victoria, and later the stadium, became the commencement venues because they could accommodate the larger classes following the growth of the school district through mergers. Since the new junior-senior high school opened in 1977, graduation ceremonies have been held in the school gymnasium.

The building at Third and Market was referred to, in succession, as Mount Carmel High School, then Mount Carmel Joint High School (after the jointure between the borough and Mount Carmel Township schools in 1951) and finally, Mount Carmel Area High School following the merger with Kulpmont in 1964,

Some other local communities have had the satisfaction of seeing their former high schools maintained for educational or community purposes. The former Shamokin High School on Arch Street became Shamokin Area High School, then Shamokin Area Middle School, and it is now the Northumberland County Career and Arts Center. The former Kulpmont High School is now Roosevelt Court. The former Trevorton High School is now the Line Mountain Elementary School. Time was not as good to the former Mount Carmel High School building, however.

The Mount Carmel school was never again used for classes after 1977. Mount Carmel Borough, which was deeded title to the school by the Mount Carmel Area School District, considered coverting the school into a municipal building, but even by the 1970s, the interior had deteriorated to such a condition that renovations were deemed cost-prohibitive.

The school was considered for a time for conversion as a "mid rise" to house senior citizens displaced by the Centralia mine fire, but that proposal fell through. The borough eventually sold the building to a private owner in 1985, and the school was eventually demolished in 1987-1988, after a life span of just three-quarters of a century.