1975: Rush-Henrietta’s High School Reaches Capacity

  • As a community, Henrietta was thriving in the early 1970s. What once was known as a sleepy farming town just two decades earlier had emerged as a model for suburban living. People continued to move to our area in droves, placing an increasing strain on a school district that had done its best to keep up with demand.

    In fact, district literature from the early 1970s predicted student enrollment would rise from 11,000 to 20,000 in the coming years. That incredible projection never materialized, but it was obvious to everyone that Sperry High School was bursting at the seams. By the mid-1970s, it was home to 2,400 students, twice as many as walk the halls of that building - now known as Rush-Henrietta Senior High School - today.

    When addressing the Class of 2021 during graduation ceremonies at Elmer Gordon Stadium, Diane McBride reflected on what everyday life was like for students at the time. McBride, a longtime Board of Education trustee and now its president, was a member of the Class of 1975.

    “When I was in high school - going to class in the building just behind us - there were so many students that we had to attend in two different shifts that were separated by several hours,” McBride shared with students and their families. “That arrangement was necessary, but difficult, and it came with a number of challenges. For example, we did not get to see many of our friends, who started and ended their day before us. From clubs to music to sports, this had a great impact on us during our teen years - and well into the future.”

    With these less-than-ideal conditions capturing the attention of the community, the Board of Education decided to create a second high school. The building now known as Roth Junior High School would be transformed into a high school in 1975, providing ample space and opportunities for all students.

    The district would operate dual high schools for more than a decade.

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