1987: New High School Name Helps Community Heal
This much was clear to Rush-Henrietta leaders by the mid-1980s: Declining student enrollment made it unsustainable for the district to operate two high schools.
That is why discussions began regarding the possibility of combining both high schools into a single building that would serve high schoolers from throughout the community - the way it had been before two high schools were created to alleviate a serious space crunch in 1975.
While Roth High School and Sperry High School served their student populations well, having separate buildings came with several downsides. While both schools rightly developed their own building culture, those distinctions made the schools quite different from the start.
In addition, in the academic and athletic arenas, these neighboring schools were set to engage in spirited competition that could have led to hard feelings within the community.
“We did play a Roth vs. Sperry football game,” recalls Rick Page, a retired administrator and football coach who worked in the district from 1968 to 2005. Quickly, it was decided the two schools would not compete against each other in sports moving forward.
“Roth won and the powers that be felt right away that it was not in the best interest of the students or the staff to potentially divide the district with unnecessary sports competitions,” Page says. “The two schools - as well as members of the coaching staff - had recently split up and were very close both in and out of school. I think it was a wise decision that allowed us to support one another and root for one R-H family.”
After much public discussion, the Board of Education decided to consolidate high schools. Both Roth High School and Sperry High School ceased to exist in 1987. That year, all students who attended these schools began attending the newly named Rush-Henrietta Senior High School. As part of this decision, the district also created a single junior high school for grades 7-8 at Roth.
Understanding the importance of continuing to honor James E. Sperry, for whom Sperry High School was named, the district kept the physical building named in his honor. That is why the front of the high school notes that Rush-Henrietta Senior High School is located in the James E. Sperry Building. Sperry was a local surveyor who provided needed leadership in fostering local education two centuries ago. He lived in Henrietta from 1811 to 1861. In 1825, Sperry was part of a group devoted to building an educational academy. Their efforts resulted in the creation of Monroe Academy the following year.
Since the challenging merger in 1987, the school has been referred to as Rush-Henrietta Senior High School. The straightforward name signifies the level of schooling that happens there, while providing a strong name that, 35 years later, continues to welcome students from throughout the district to a high school dedicated to serving the entire community.
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