Alumni share memories of Roseville High School

‘School on the Hill’ celebrating 100th anniversary
By: Sena Christian, The Press Tribune
-A +A

For decades, Roseville High School has been known as the “High School on the Hill.”

Now, the fact that the campus sits on a slight incline is difficult to notice as the land around the school has developed with neighborhoods, paved streets and businesses.

The school celebrates its 100th anniversary this year and the Roseville High School Alumni Association has several special events and projects planned to commemorate the Centennial Celebration.

In 1911, two years after Roseville incorporated as a city, the newly formed Roseville Women’s Improvement Club circulated petitions urging support for a local high school. Voters passed the initiative and the Roseville Union High School District formed in 1912.

Students first attended class in the Golden Eagle Hotel. A total of 85 teenagers — including only a handful of girls — went to school there. Because the hotel lacked a library, students read books in Carnegie Library, which opened in October 1912, also at the behest of the women’s club.

Roseville Union High School was built in 1915 and classes began January 1916.

John Piches graduated from the high school in 1939, and is one of only a handful of remaining alumni from that decade.

His folks moved here from Lincoln in 1908 because of the railroad, he said. After graduation, he joined the service and served in the South Pacific. He was later involved in the development of the Sierra Gardens neighborhood and the Roseville Square shopping center on Harding Boulevard.

Sixteen members of the school’s graduating class of 1941 celebrated their 70th reunion in November. These alumni, averaging 88 years old, remember a campus of about 540 students from Roseville, Rocklin and the western part of Loomis.

Angelo Simone graduated in 1946 and some 65 years later continues to keep in touch with classmates in the form of their band, The Discords.

“We were at a golf tournament in Mexico (in 2006) and we had some drinks and we started singing. We thought why don’t we put on a show?” Simone said. “I got into singing after high school and sang for 30 years. I traveled all over the state singing.”

That golf trip to Acapulco included Ted Harris, class of 1948, and Tony Butto, class of 1949, who sang a few bars of “Show Me the Way to Go Home.” They decided to form a group to sing at their high school reunions. They’ve now performed at more than 10 reunions, with the help of several other former members of Roseville High School’s J.B. Gale’s Men’s Glee Club.

June Wanish (maiden name Howe) also attended Roseville High School in the 1940s. She went on to serve on the Roseville City Council. She said her tenure coincided with a lot of the changes that led to the city of today, including significant residential and commercial development.

“If you don’t grow, you die,” Wanish said.

June 19 is June Wanish Day in Roseville.

Judy Aguilar (maiden name Pugliese) attended school in the late 1960s and early 1970s — experiencing the changing social norms of that era.

“One of the things that was very different from today is that the girls weren’t allowed to wear pants to school until the end of my senior year, which I rather liked, as I preferred wearing dresses and skirts anyway,” Aguilar said.

The original campus was torn down in 1969 and rebuilt.

Former Press Tribune reporter Nathan Donato-Weinstein attended Roseville High School in the late 1990s and recalls an era of positive change.

“Computers were nothing new in schools, but the Internet was just getting off the ground,” Donato-Weinstein said. “I can remember the first time the librarian sat us down to talk about looking for information on the Internet. Now it seems like old hat, but back then this was new stuff.”

He was part of the Y2K class, graduating in 2000.

“Graduating in 2000 was something really special because the economy was humming along, Roseville was developing at a fast clip and there was a sense of general optimism,” he said.

Sena Christian can be reached at Follow her on Twitter at SenaC_RsvPT.


EDITOR’S NOTE: The Press Tribune is doing a series on the Roseville High School Centennial Celebration. For all stories, visit


To get involved with the Roseville High School Centennial Celebration, visit the RHS Alumni Association website at The association meets at 6 p.m. on the third Wednesday of the month in the library at Roseville High School, 1 Tiger Way.