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A century of Rosemount High School memories: Family has strong ties to school

Maureen Kelly-Carroll stands with her mother Mary Jean Kelly (left) and her aunt Alice McMenomy, all of whom graduated from Rosemount High School and still live in their hometown, along with extended family. They share family photos and a graduation diploma from Margaret Mary Cunniff, who graduated in the first class of Rosemount High School on May 24, 1918. Kara Hildreth / contributor

Generations chose to raise families who become graduates of Rosemount High School, and some are celebrating that history this week.

Rosemount High School hosts its centennial celebration Friday and Saturday, Sept. 22-23, with many events and activities chronicling the last 100 years.

"We don't go very far and most of us have stayed in Dakota County and it is a great school," said Maureen Kelly-Carroll, who graduated from Rosemount High School and worked for 31 years in special education for Rosemount. "It has everything that all the other schools offer but it feels like a small-town school because everyone knows everyone."

Carroll sat recently to share family photographs and stories with her mother, Mary Jean Kelly, and her aunt, Alice McMenomy. All three women still live in Rosemount and graduated from the high school. All of their children graduated from Rosemount and many still live in town or close to their hometown.

The women shared a special, ornate graduation diploma from 100 years when their relative Margaret Mary Cunniff graduated in Rosemount High School's first class on May 24, 1918.

There were four graduates in the Class of 1918 that included three other classmates: Josephine Gibson, Florence Gibbons and Margaret Quigley. Margaret's father John Cunniff served on the school board at the time.

Margaret lived in a house on Biscayne Avenue in Rosemount in a family of seven children. Her mother died of pneumonia when she was very young and she helped raise her siblings. She attended a one-room schoolhouse that later became a doctor's office and then a funeral home in Rosemount.

After high school graduation she stayed on the farm to take care of her brothers and sisters and did not marry until age 28. "That was older for that time period and there was a reason for it because she was helping out with the children," Carroll said.

"I imagine they all helped each other," Kelly added. "Even after she got married, the brothers came and lived in her house."

Margaret married a farmer, James Oster, from Farmington in 1928. After the couple married, he delivered gas to farmers before buying his own gas truck.

The women shared how Margaret was way more than a homemaker. Besides raising her own siblings who lived with her until each was ready to marry, she was involved in the community, including Mothers Club.

Margaret and James had four children and all of her children lived in Rosemount, attended Rosemount schools and graduated from Rosemount High School. She lived to be 79.

"She was a smart woman," Carroll said, showing Margaret's report cards from 1916 and 1917 that showed a mastery of different concepts.

As a grandmother, Margaret was a great cook and a baker known for her pastries and canned preserves like jams and jellies. She even made her own ketchup.

"She was very involved at St. Joseph's Church that is now the Steeple Center and she taught catechism in her house and babysat children because she did not know how to say 'no,'" Kelly said, smiling.

The women reminisced about going to Farmington on Fridays by bus to see movies and taking the train home. As girls, the women recall shopping in Farmington at Griebie's department store and grocery market under one roof.

"We always had class reunions and they were always fun and as we grew older," McMenomy said.

All the family members have been proud graduates of Rosemount High School. Today most choose to live and raise their families in their hometown.

"My mom had four children, Ellen had four children and Alice had six children and Jim had six children," Carroll said.

Today great-grandchildren and descendants of Margaret attend the high school and that is unusual, Carroll said.

"She has great-great grandchildren, two go to St. Joseph's in town and one at Rosemount Middle school, and two are at Red Pine Elementary and all stayed here," Carroll said.

Both McMenomy and Kelly plan to attend a tour of the old school and the Steeple Center this week, along with share in a special breakfast. Carroll will attend the breakfast and give tours at the middle school on Saturday.

McMenomy and Kelly attended the old brown school for all 12 years of education. That building is part of the middle school. In 1964 Rosemount High School was built and has undergone many additions since.

"Our children have all stayed close by because Rosemount is such a great place and the school district has so much to offer for our children," Kelly said.

If you go:

Rosemount High School's centennial celebration

What: Rosemount High School celebrates 100 years with a two-day celebration. Entertaining events include 1918 to 1964 class reunions, a homecoming parade and dance, varsity sports contests, pancake breakfast, classic car show, 5K Fun Run and all day student music and concerts.

Who: Rosemount High School alumni, retired and former staff, present students and parents, the public

When: Friday and Saturday, Sept. 22-23

Connect: Facebook centennial celebration page or click on the featured link at Rosemount High School's website: public.district196.org/rhs/.

A Rosemount Alumni & Community Dance will entertain with live music from three bands that will play popular songs from three generations. Proceeds benefit Rosemount High School Foundation and support the school's academics, arts and athletics, along with funding teacher grants.

Get tickets at www.rosemountHSfoundation.eventbrite.com.

Guests can take a self-guided tour of the 1918 school building and Rosemount High School from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 23.

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