The City of Easton borders the state of New Jersey and is located on the eastern boundary of Pennsylvania at the confluence of the Lehigh and Delaware Rivers. Within two hours of both New York and Philadelphia, the Easton Area School District encompasses the City of Easton and the townships of Palmer, Forks and Lower Mount Bethel, all of which are located within the boundaries of Northampton County. Easton is a city rich in history, tradition and ethnicity and was founded in 1752 by Thomas Penn, a son of William Penn, who laid out a grid pattern of streets surrounding the “Great Square.” The Lenape Native Indians called the junction of the Delaware and Lehigh Rivers “Lechauwitank” – which translates to “the place at the forks.” In those days, the land where Easton now stands was wilderness, a high plain surrounded by wooded ridges.
In colonial times, the Indian and colonial leaders made treaties in Easton that helped the English conquer the Ohio Valley. Easton served as the administrative center for almost all of Northeastern Pennsylvania. During the American Revolution, Easton was an important economic center and a vital military depot. It was the staging area for John Sullivan’s expedition against the British-allied Iroquois in New York State.
During the nineteenth century, Easton became one of America’s earliest industrial centers because of its location at the junction of the Lehigh, Delaware and Morris Canals, and the five major railroads. These commercial arteries gave Easton ready access to New York, Philadelphia and the booming anthracite coal regions. This prosperity and civic pride was reflected by both the founding of Lafayette College in 1832 and the construction of magnificent architecture during this period.
Easton has a distinguished place in American History, for the Northampton County Liberty Bell was rung on the occasion of the official reading of the Declaration of Independence from the steps of the Centre Square Courthouse on July 8, 1776. The Easton flag was unfurled on this same occasion, and it is venerated as one of the oldest flag designs of the United Colonies.
The population of approximately 63,000 people in the community reside in a mixture of rural, industrial, college, urban, and residential-suburban areas, and the Easton Area School District takes great pride in its history of tradition, its appreciation and celebration of diversity, and its inclusive environment. The district provides educational opportunities for students in kindergarten through grade twelve. As of August 2016, the schools served approximately 9,200 students. They are subdivided into groupings of the K-5, grades 6-8 and grades 9-12 schools. The population is racially and culturally diverse, with representation of approximately 59% Caucasian, 18% African-American, 18% Hispanic, and 5% Asian.
The most appropriate general socio-economic designation for the district would be middle class. However, the student population ranges from low economic status to upper class. Additionally, the district also encompasses rural, suburban, and urban settings. A steady increase of new students has been occurring as a result of rapid home developments in Palmer and Forks Townships; however, recent trends show that the student population growth may be slowing.
The District is comprised of eleven (11) schools: Easton Area High School, Easton Area Middle School 6 - 8, and seven (7) elementary schools: Ada B. Cheston, Forks, Francis A. March, Palmer, Paxinosa, Shawnee and Edward Tracy. Additionally the district offers Easton Area Academy which is Alternative Education program for grades 6-12, as well as the Easton Cyber Academy for students who choose the cyber school option.
In terms of student growth, approximately 40% of graduating seniors currently go on to a four-year institution of higher learning, with 42% choosing to go on to a two-year institution of higher learning. Another 1.4% enters the military, and the remainder enters the workforce.