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High school fraternities and sororities

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Fraternities and sororities exist for high school students as well as college students. Like their college counterparts, most have Greek letter names. Although there were countless local high school fraternities and sororities with only one or two chapters, many secondary fraternities founded in the nineteenth, and twentieth, century in the United States grew into national organizations with a highly evolved governing structure and regularly chartered chapters in multiple regions. Many of the local chapters of these national fraternities were not tied to (or affiliated with) individual high schools but were instead area based, often drawing membership from multiple high schools in a given area.

Finally, in 1988, West Philadelphia High School became home of ATOPHI Fraternity, a local high school fraternity that was not tied to or affiliated with a local college or national fraternity although inspired by the Black Greek-lettered fraternities and sororities. With the help of 4-5 others, Tony Dphax King (from University City) lead the organization as president as well as introduced the fraternity to Temple University in 1990 - its first university chapt which included Orloff Phillips from Bethlehem, Pa. and eight others.


High school fraternities and sororities were inspired by and modeled after Greek-letter organizations which became prevalent in North American colleges and universities during the nineteenth century (Owen 492). In some respects, these fraternities and sororities are designed to better prepare individuals for college-level fraternities. The first known high school fraternity was Torch and Dagger in Council Bluffs, Iowa, founded in 1859. This organization existed with lapses from 1861 to 1866 and again from 1880 to 1893. In 1900 it was renamed Omega Eta Tau and began expanding nationally. Gamma Sigma was organized in October 1869 at Brockport Normal School (then a high school-level institution, but now a college). Gamma Sigma also became the first International High School Fraternity when it chartered a chapter in Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada in late 1927- the Alpha Zeta chapter. LaSalle Sr. High School in Niagara Falls New York was also home to multiple fraternities and sororities, dating back to the 1950s. Alpha Zeta came into existence at the Union Classical Institute in Schenectady, New York (associated with Union College, home of the college fraternity movement) on December 8, 1869, Alpha Phi followed one year later at the Colgate Academy (connected with Colgate University) and Pi Phi was founded in 1878 at Rochester Free Academy (associated with University of Rochester). Pi Phi spread to more than 110 chapters before lapsing into solely alumni chapters in the 1980s. Phi Sigma Chi, founded on November 28, 1900, in Zanesville, OH, may have chartered the most chapters of any high school fraternity: 117. Most of the American secondary fraternities that were successful in the twentieth century had national governing bodies, produced regular publications and convened in regular (often annual) national conventions. They also each possessed a secret ritual and handshake and a Greek-letter name which, like college fraternities was usually derived from the abbreviation of a secret Greek motto. These groups were identified by a coat-of-arms and members wore distinctive fraternity badges or pins.

In the 1900s, some state governments banned fraternities and sororities in public schools, driving them underground, or out of existence. California, for example, passed a law banning them in 1906.

See also

Temple News, an article about a college brawl between two fraternities titled "Noon Time Diversion" written between 1991 and 1995.


  • Owen, William Bishop. "The good of High School Fraternities" The School Review Vol. 14 No. 7 492-504. The University of Chicago Press, 1906.
  • Sigma Alpha Rho Handbook, 9th Edition
  • Perkins, Glen O. "The good of Fraternities and Sororities in the Tucson High School" The School Review, Vol. 31, No. 3. (Mar. 1923), pp. 224–226.
  • Brown, J. Ward. "American Secondary School Fraternities" Published by the Maske Brown Company, New York, Copyright 1913. 213 pages with a 16-page supplement, June 1914.
  • Baird, William Raymond. "American College Fraternities" Fourth edition, copyright 1890. Published by James P. Downs, New York. Pages 287-288.

The Record, West Philadelphia High School yearbook. 1990

This page was last edited on 29 September 2019, at 23:39
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