1954: Sudden Need for a Second New School

  • The new school was running out of space. Not long after the Rush-Henrietta Central School District was established 75 years ago, it became apparent the building created for all students in grades K-12 that opened in 1952 would not suffice.

    The image accompanying this story shows a 1949 Rochester Times Union graph predicting R-H student population growth. The graph seriously underestimated what was about to happen. Families were moving to the popular new district by the hundreds, and Rush-Henrietta leaders knew it soon would be unable to accommodate each student who wished to attend. In the early 1950s, more than 400 homes were being built within school boundaries each year.

    In response, the district began to consider the construction of a second school, one devoted to serving younger children. They received an unexpected offer from James P. Wilmot, president of Wilmorite Corp. He proposed giving the district 15 free acres of land as a site for a new school. Originally referred to as The Suburban Heights School, projections showed the building would be filled to capacity as soon as it opened. First, though, residents had to vote to accept the land.

    An intriguing community debate began. A significant number of residents believed additional school buildings should be built on the district’s original 65-acre site on East Henrietta Road, where Roth Junior High School stands. They were opposed to the idea of the neighborhood schools concept that Rush-Henrietta eventually embraced.

    A letter to the editor printed by The Honeoye Falls Times newspaper in 1954 challenged the idea of building anew in a different part of the community. “If we accept this site, we will be decentralizing our schools,” wrote Mrs. Robert C. Kelley, of Pinnacle Road. “Without a doubt, the school population has grown so much that additional facilities are necessary. The question is whether they should be scattered throughout the area or whether they should be kept on a centralized site.” Those against the proposal said approving it would be akin to decentralizing the district less than a decade after it formed.

    During a December 30, 1954, vote, residents were asked whether the district should accept the land. See Post 16 to find out what happened with this vote and potential second school!

    [Post 15] #75posts75years

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