The first public high school in Rochester began in 1857. Classes were held in buildings that also housed elementary children until Rochester High School was built in 1901 on Wakefield Street. A three-story brick building with separate doors for boys and girls, the Rochester Courier newspaper called it a “splendid high school structure.”
Gym classes were held in the basement and a ramp led to a bicycle storage area for those who rode a bicycle to school. No transportation was provided for high school students. An assembly hall was on the third floor. There was no cafeteria, but according to graduate Florence Smith there was no need for one because classes ended at 1 p.m.
More students began attending high school and the building soon became so crowded the assembly hall was used for classes. Assemblies and graduations, as well as basketball games, were held in the Rochester Opera House in City Hall. Many changes in education meant different classes were needed to meet the needs of students not planning to go to college. In 1926 a vocational building was added.
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