A New School Is Born
In 1907 when Benson became a city of the second class, it was necessary to organize a city school district and a new board was elected. The members were: A. C. Christiansen, Fred Hawkins, F. S. Bon and W. F. Rice.
During the school year 1906-1907 a group of Benson youngsters were going to school in a store building because of the crowded conditions in neighboring schools. On June 10, 1907 the school board of Benson purchased three lots at 56th and Corby. On this land a two room frame school building was erected, thus relieving the crowded conditions in the schools of Benson, NE.
The name for this school was not difficult to choose since the hillsides of the area were covered with wild roses. It seemed only right to call the school Rose Hill.
The two room school was opened on October 21, 1907 with Miss Nealie Beals as principal. Added attractions to this new school were a playground, a block square with shade trees, slides and swings. To the east of the school was the Country Club with more trees, green grass, and wild roses. The Country Club extended east from 56th to approximately 52 street. A few large summer homes were south of the playground area but the school was basically in a yet to be developed area of Benson.
S. R. O. Era
In 1910, Miss Bess Bedell became principal of the S. R. O. (standing room only) school. The original two room school house was converted into a five room building by an addition and replanning of the old building. Miss Bedell's sixteen years of service at Rose Hill as principal saw more changes in the building.
In 1916, it was again necessary to enlarge Rose Hill. The frame building was turned to face the east and was brick veneered. A brick structure was added to increase the capacity to eight classrooms, an auditorium and gymnasium.
The following year, 1917, the city of Benson was annexed to Omaha and Rose Hill, with the other Benson City Schools, became part of the Omaha Public School system.
School continued per pattern - after the annexation, Miss Bedell and the faculty then became members of the Omaha Public School staff. At the close of the 1926 school year, Miss Bedell retired and Miss Ethel Lynn became the third principal of Rose Hill School.
By 1928, the "standing room only" was more in truth than fiction. The overcrowded conditions required the precious auditorium to be made into two classrooms. A west wing consisting of an office, a kindergarten room and two classrooms were added to the building.
In 1935, the population growth made it necessary to complete the west wing by the addition of two classrooms on the upper floor.
The school enrollment in 1936 was 600 pupils. The problems of a growing community were present.
This period brought about many changes in Rose Hill School. The district it served became smaller and more concentrated, for new schools had been built to take care of the increased population in this section of the city. Many fine homes were built in what had been the Country Club grounds and golf course. The economic status of the families changed, for these new home were built by people who were financially well off for the time.
The parents of Rose Hill appeared many times before the Board of Education with petitions for consideration of the needs of Rose Hill School. The school stood at the bottom of the list in playground facilities - due to the increase in pupils and building expansions. P.T.A. members petitioned the School Board to lease a track of lots across the street from the school for playground purposes.
Large sums of money were needed to carry on the work of this growing community with its many interests and projects. Family fun nights, suppers, musical reviews, carnivals, movies, puppet shows, style shows, talent shows and card parties all provided means of financial support. Some of these activities were presented to the public at the Benson High School Auditorium.
The War Years
The "forties" opened new interest areas for the Rose Hill people. Outstanding during these years were the projects of the "Work Work Committee" and the all-out war effort of all the members of the school. Classes in First Aid and Home Nursing were offered at Rose Hill and were well attended. Funds were collected and donations were made from the P.T.A. treasury to the Community Chest, Red Cross and T.B. Seals campaign. The school sponsored salvage drives to collect waste paper, metals and other materials needed to help win the war. Books were collected and sent to soldiers. A victory garden campaign was sponsored. The parents helped in booths to sell defense stamps at school. Rose Hill ranked third in the city in the sale of war stamps.
In 1942, the following organizations were under the sponsorship of the school: Girl Scouts and Brownies, Boy Scouts and Cubs, Fire Patrol, Safety Patrol, First Aid Courses, Junior Red Cross and the Rose Hill Civic Club. The latter was a pupil organization with a fourfold purpose which included pride in appearance of building and grounds, peace and order, courtesy to others, and obedience to the law.
1943 will long be remembered for the sale of Defense Stamps and Bonds. For the school year 1942-43 a total of $10,042.95 were purchased by the teachers, pupils and community.
After faithfully serving the pupils and their parents for seventeen years, Miss Ethel Lynn retired as principal of Rose Hill in June, 1943. Mrs. Ethel McConney was appointed principal as of September, 1943, to be the fourth principal of the 36-year-old school.
In September, 1949 when the children and teachers returned they were happy to find a clean and beautifully decorated building. The coat halls for the two west classrooms on the first floor had been converted into a nurse's office and lockers placed in the hallway for the coats. The School Board had also purchased three lots to the west of the building and increased the play area.
Post War Activities
The fear of "removal of certain federal school subsidies" was prevalent in the 1953 school term. Dr. Burke, then superintendent of the Omaha Public Schools stated that, "In all probability, cash subsidies for the school lunch program will also be eliminated." Grants for lunches for the 1952-53 school year were $109,000.00. Although Rose Hill school children did not have a cafeteria at that time, parents were most interested in this problem because of the number of families living in our district who had children in Benson High School.
The June, 1954 eighth grade graduation class was the last for this 47-year-old school. Even though Rose Hill had always been classified a kindergarten - eighth grade school, because of the crowded conditions that periodically existed, the seventh and eighth grade pupils were housed at Benson High School. In all, 27 eighth grade classes were educated in the Rose Hill building. In September of 1955, Omaha's first "true" Junior High School, Monroe Junior High, was opened and Rose Hill officially became a Kindergarten - Grade Six school.
In the fall of 1956, Mrs. McConney fell and her injury necessitated the appointment of an acting principal to Rose Hill School. Mrs. Doris Field received the appointment. In May, Mrs. McConney resigned her position and Mrs. Field was selected to be Rose Hill's fifth principal.
During the era that Mrs. Field was principal of the school, Rose Hill pupils chose, as their mascot, a rooster named "Rosie." The Rose Hill Rooster the first school paper was published which contained school news and original writings of the students.
In the fall of 1961, Mrs. Field was assigned a new position, and Mrs. Margaret I. Baker was appointed principal of Rose Hill School.
The building was badly in need of modernization, and a program of updating the facilities was begun during the fall of 1962. A complete fire detection system was installed. Following the approval of the fire detection system, a renovation job was begun. No major remodeling projects to the building itself were undertaken, however, the needs of additional cupboards, storage space, chalk boards, etc. were recognized and cared for at this time.
In 1964, a Student Council was organized. Each classroom, first grade through sixth grade, was represented in the organization. The purpose, as stated in the constitution, are:
1. To furnish citizenship training.
2. To allow pupils to participate in or manage extra curricular activities.
3. To provide for pupil expression and initiative.
4. To develop the ability of the student to accept responsibility.
5. To stimulate and develop wholesome school spirit.
6. To promote proper pupil/faculty relationships.
7. To develop an awareness of the community and the pupil obligation to it.
Rose Hill had the distinction of having its own elementary school flag. Its design was presented to the student body by a fellow student, Mitchell Katzkee. The flag portrayed the school's mascot "Rosie" on a red and white background.
The Library Study Period was another activity sponsored by the Student Council. Study time preceding and following the school's regular hours was offered to the boys and girls twice a week.
The first major addition to the building since 1935 was scheduled for the fall of 1966. A new multipurpose room was to be built. This multipurpose room would consist of a cafeteria, stage, and gym area which may also be used as an auditorium. This will be the first time since 1928 that Rose Hill could boast of adequate auditorium space for the school. In 1968, the new addition was dedicated and Rose Hill was on its way to a new era.
In 1983, Mr. Samuel Crawford joined the staff as principal. He remained as principal until the 1989-90 school year. He was asked to take on the principalship of Sunny Slope Elementary in west Omaha.
For the 1990-91 school year, Mr. Robert Acamo became principal of Rose Hill Elementary. With his tremendous foresight and the hard work of the staff, he developed new ideas in curriculum, and policies that took the school and its students into the next century.
Melissa Orlando became principal of Rose Hill for l999-2000. Many changes took place in the year 2000-01 as the school was renovated and the students had class at the old US Mills building on 30th & Ames. Students and staff moved into the new Rose Hill on March 5, 2002 and held a formal dedication ceremony on May 5, 2002. One of the many changes that took place was that the name of our school reverted back to being written as two words (Rosehill to Rose Hill).
The future of Rose Hill is hopeful. One thing is certain, with the strong history, heritage, and tradition this school has, there remains no doubt that the effect of the school upon the students and community will forever be one of which all pupils - former, present, and future - can be very proud.