On October 7, 1965, Lenape Area Vocational-Technical School (AVTS) opened in Armstrong County with eight vocational-technical programs. Lenape was the first AVTS in Pennsylvania that allowed students to receive both their academic and vocational-technical requirements in the same building. The full-time school concept afforded student the advantage of taking academic classes tailored to complement their vocational-technical training. In 1975, due to student and community interest, six additional programs were added, along with a new academic wing. This included a new library, a gymnasium and a cafetorium. In 1986 the school had its second expansion and added an Agricultural and Environmental Science program to bring the total number of programs to fifteen.
Students in Apollo-Ridge, Armstrong, Freeport, and Leechburg school districts have the opportunity to choose to attend Lenape AVTS for their junior and senior years. As the county's AVTS, yearly operating costs are shared by the four school districts based on each individual district's student enrollment.
Each of Lenape's fifteen programs is structured to provide the most up-to-date instruction possible. Representatives from business, industry, education and community service serve on Occupational Advisory Committees, helping to ensure that the curriculum remains current. The committees meet at least annually with Lenape administrators and teachers to review, revise and update each program.
Lenape students have a number of opportunities available after graduation. Most students who desire to become employed are employed full time in a position related to their program area as soon as they graduate. Others choose to pursue further education, in many cases with advanced standing or a scholarship.
High school students are not the only ones who benefit from Lenape's programs. The Adult and Continuing Education program offers many classes, specializing in business and industry training programs, education for employment, and education for enjoyment. Classes are held in the evenings or on Saturdays at Lenape. Topics range from general (aerobics, photography, sign language, acupressure, boating safety, and golf), medical, and computer-related courses, to trades and industry courses.
In the 80's Lenape became the site for Butler County Community College's Armstrong County campus. This partnership offers convenient, affordable credit and non-credit college courses to local residents during evening hours. Many high school students take advantage of college classes. Juniors with a grade average of "B" or higher and permission from their guidance counselor can also take courses.
Looking toward the future, plans are being made to expand again. Research has been conducted to determine which vocational-technical areas are compatible with the needs of the local job market. To better serve both the students and the community, academies are being formed. Six academies, under which related programs will fall, will give students opportunities to gain a wider variety of skills. Additions to Lenape programs being considered are related to electro-optics, business, child and eldercare, communications and other areas of technology. Lenape representative attend meetings with County Commissioners, the Chamber of Commerce, and other community planning organizations in order to contribute to economic development in Armstrong County.