Clubs have long been an important aspect of the school experience, offering optional activities outside of the school day that reflect student interests. As noted in the 1965 Rush-Henrietta yearbook, “Clubs fulfill an important function in school life. They supplement the student’s education by allowing him to learn more about his fields of interest and to explore new areas that he may find equally absorbing.” The yearbook also acknowledged the social aspect of clubs, noting they “give people a place to meet with other people who share the same interests.”
In some ways, the clubs offered are like a time capsule for that era. In 1968, students joined the Bridge Club to play the then-popular card game, while others tried to impart culture through the Enterprise, a “publication of poems, short stories, art work, and brilliant thoughts of the student body…” That club seemed to be short-lived, as the yearbook stated, “This year in particular, the Enterprise staff has attempted to make the publication popular among and appreciated by the students of R-H.”
Not all student publications struggled for acceptance. The 1956 Rush-Henrietta News won an award from the Empire State School Press Association. The R-H Factor student newsletter published news and photos for many years, and the Kaleidoscope literary magazine ran school-wide contests with cash prizes.
In 1965, members of the Junior Red Cross assisted the local Red Cross chapter with humanitarian efforts. For a few years in the 1970s, Taxidermy Club had several students trying their hand at that craft while a 1979 photo of the Karate Club boasted 35 members. In 1981, the Pep Club promoted school spirit and was instrumental in arranging an exciting Homecoming, including an entrance by helicopter for the Homecoming queen.
In other ways, the clubs offered show the timelessness of certain interests. Music performance groups, art clubs, science clubs, and language studies are weaved throughout the decades. There was a Dance Band in 1959 that played at school dances and assemblies. Pep Band, formed in 1956 by Mr. Stamm to “add entertainment to home games,” did so gleefully through the 1960s. Music teacher Roger Eckers conducted the Comets Marching Band beginning in the mid-70s, and members continued marching to their beat through the early 2000s.
Some clubs allow exploration of careers, including the 1950s and 60s’ Future Secretaries, Future Teachers, Future Nurses, and Future Farmers of America. The career and technical organization DECA, formerly Distributive Education Clubs of America, has allowed students to explore a variety of business interests at R-H since the 1950s. Members ran the bookstore for many years, and today operate the Comet Cafe’ at the Senior High School.
Other clubs promote outdoor activities and sports, including the Equestrian Club, which was a favorite in the 1980s. The 1979 Ski Club at Roth High School had 200 members and filled four buses for each trip to Bristol.
Some clubs offer competitive opportunities. In 1988, Brain Stormers was a trivia game show for area high school students on WXXI. In 1998, Masterminds offered a similar, non-televised competition among high school students that still goes on today.
For many alumni, the clubs and extracurricular activities are highlights of their school days and provide lasting memories of their time in Rush-Henrietta.
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