How We Became the Royal Comets

  • Between its inception in 1946 and its peak enrollment in the early 1970s, the Rush-Henrietta Central School District went from dozens of students to many thousands. Thanks to strong leadership and an understanding community, the district managed manage dramatic changes in student enrollment. Others would have faltered if faced with similar circumstances.

    After an impressive period of sustained growth in the 1960s and 1970s, Rush-Henrietta had nearly 11,000 students in its classrooms. By 1975, Sperry High School, only seven years old, was so jam-packed the Board of Education agreed to open a second building, Roth High School. The schools operated simultaneously through 1986, when declining enrollment dictated that the district return to its original one-building format for high schoolers.

    Amidst controversy, the Board of Education made a commitment to move all students to Sperry High School in 1987. This decision caused lingering resentment among students, families, and staff of both buildings. In an attempt to bring the community together, Sperry High School was renamed Rush-Henrietta Senior High School. This is why the high school is referred to by this unifying name even today.

    But what would become of the district’s dual mascots - the Royals of Roth and the Comets of Sperry?

    A Democrat and Chronicle story from the time explains what happened next: “In these days of combined district teams, some schools neglect one of the most important elements of their new identity. A nickname. Not Rush-Henrietta’s girls’ basketball team. When Roth and Sperry merged this season, they bumped their names together: Royal Comets. “‘It’s not official,’” Coach Tom Dulmage told the newspaper. ‘We’re just using it for tournament programs until we get an official name.’”

    As it happened, it turned out that a replacement name wasn’t a necessity after all, reporter Brett Avery observed. “If an 18-0 record for the emerging Monroe County League power was good enough this season, why isn’t the nickname?”

    And so we became the Rush-Henrietta Royal Comets. We are proud of this most unique name!

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