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our history

Roosevelt High School is named after the 26th president of the United States, Theodore Roosevelt. Built in 1921, the total construction cost for the school, including landscaping and athletic fields, was $1,331,600. Roosevelt was one of the first schools in the nation to be built at a cost exceeding a million dollars, and was referred to as the “The Million Dollar School” for several years. In 1923, the school opened its doors to 1,282 students in grades seven through 12. Architects, Proudfoot, Bird and Rawson designed and built a modified Gothic style building set on a beautiful 20-acre campus. The building continues to impress today, particularly when viewed from Polk Boulevard.

Roosevelt  has served thousands of students since its opening and prepared them for their adult lives. Throughout Roosevelt’s 80-plus-year history, it has provided students with a broad-based curriculum that includes a rigorous academic programs in English, mathematics, science, social science, and foreign language, as well as family and consumer sciences, fine arts, education technology, and business education. Academically, it is considered one of the top Iowa high schools, and is known nationally for its educational achievement. The school has a proud history of producing a large number of National Merit and Advanced Placement Scholars each year. Twenty-eight percent of the student body is identified as talented and gifted. And typically, 85% of Roosevelt graduates attend college. Few schools in Iowa send more students to Ivy League schools than does Roosevelt.

Roosevelt has one of the highest student participation rates in athletics and extracurricular activities of any high school in the state. Sporting the school colors of navy blue and white, Roughrider teams have won many metro, conference, and state championships in all areas of athletics. On a national level, Roosevelt also has won titles in track, swimming, tennis, and soccer. The school is well known in national debate circles, as well as for its art, drama, and music programs.

Today, Roosevelt High School educates approximately 2,200 students in grades nine through 12. The student population is one of the most socially, economically, and culturally diverse in Iowa, with a cultural percentage mix of 30%. Roosevelt students represent 32 different countries, including 15 different ethnicity groups, such as Asian American, African American Sudanese, Bosnian, and Hispanic/Latino. More than 25 languages are spoken by Roosevelt students, making it a truly cosmopolitan place.

The school has had several additions to meet the needs of increasing enrollment and an expanded and changing curriculum. These included a science and laboratory wing, large gymnasium, swimming pool, dressing room, weight room, counseling suite, and recently, an industrial arts addition. Extensive remodeling has provided improved facilities for the art department, the journalism department, a faculty lounge and storage areas. The building has also been renovated over the years by remodeling science rooms, painting, new lockers, fire doors, a new sound system, new curtains for the auditorium, new storm windows for the entire building, new ceilings in many classrooms, air conditioning of some areas, and replacement of classroom doors, auditorium seats, and other interior improvements. A baseball diamond was added on the east side of the football field in 1986. In 1987 an all-weather running track, added faculty and visitor parking, a remodeled west entrance and extensive landscaping further improved the exterior facilities.

The present remodeled building now includes features that effectively serve the student body and the community. The auditorium, which seats 1,974, occupies a large part of the interior. Another smaller theater serves as a library and has a seating capacity for 160 students. The library’s collection has grown to a current 21,000 volumes, along with an extensive file of periodicals, and a wide variety of other reference materials including many modern electronic aids. A career library is maintained in the counseling center. A former storage area on the first floor was converted into a journalism classroom and laboratory for use in the publications of the five-time award-winning student newspaper and year-book. One of the most beautiful places in the building is the enlarged art department on the third floor where three classrooms and a foyer, with many growing plants reaching to the sky-lighted ceiling, furnish space for potential artists.

Combining innovative techniques with well-established academic practices, Roosevelt has adapted to changing conditions and needs. These innovations include Chinese, African American History, Psychology, American studies, computers, and interactive cable television learning. In addition the students are now offered the opportunity to serve in the National Honor Society and earn academic letters. Some of the innovations, such as the large TV classes established for 11th grade English in the early 1960’s, have been abandoned; while others, such as optional levels in social studies and advance standing programs for advanced students, have been retained. Faculty participation in decision-making has been enhanced through the Faculty Senate, the School-Based Council and the School Growth Team. Parents and students have become a part of the school decision-making through the School-Based Council.

Roosevelt has a tradition of excellence, both academically and in various extracurricular activities, that is a source of pride to the community, the students, the faculty, and the alumni. Although the public image is most frequently focused on the competitive achievement in sports, music, debate and other activities, the school commands respect for its academic achievement and its nurturing of outstanding leaders and good citizens, people who contribute importantly to their communities and their families.

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