FIRST HILLCREST ELEMENTARY SCHOOL
The boundary of the Ruston School District #1 was enlarged and redrawn in 1922. The School Board the next year called the tremendous $175,000 bond election which included the construction of a school in the north side of Ruston.
The building was referred to as the Northside School. The architect was J. W. Smith and site selected was the original home site of R.E. Russ. This site was located at the corner of North Monroe Street and West Maryland Avenue. Coushatta Street bounded the site on the east. The site was a high hill which was the highest point in Ruston. This location was the basis for the school being named Hillcrest Elementary. The contract for building the school was $55,325.00.
According to Mr. H.E. Townsend, the first principal of Hillcrest was Miss May Huey. The school enrollment grew through the years as much by consolidating schools just outside Ruston as by the growth of Ruston. Miss Mattie Kendall was principal of the school in the mid 1930’s. These two principals were not only principals, but they taught a full teaching load.
The following is a list of people who have served as principal:
1925 Miss May Huey
1933 Miss Mattie Kendall
1940-41 Miss Hattie Winfree
1941-43 Mr. James W. Ware
1943-55 W. H. Rockhold
1955-66 Mrs. Lizzie Riser
1966-75 Mr. Murphy J. Barr
1975-79 Mr. Owen Jean Hall
1979-80 Mrs. Bobbie Sue Lann
1980-84 Dr. Owen Jean Hall
1984-86 Dr. Glenn Wilkins
1986-87 Dr. Owen Jean Hall
1987-97 Mrs. Ann Gilbert
1997-2020 Ms. Patrice Hilton
2020-Present Mrs. Lauren Keen
On at least two occasions, strong moves were made by the school patrons to rename the school Russ Memorial Elementary School. Neither move was strong enough to actually change the name. A major alteration was made to the building in 1949 by Lincoln Builders for $34,419. The basic instructional program consisted of reading, language, spelling, and writing and math, science, social studies, and health and physical education. A large number of students were brought to school by buses. The 4-H Club was an active club but was sponsored by the Agricultural Extension Office. Health services began to be available. Later, both hearing and vision checks were administered to students in designated grades. A special education class was added to Hillcrest to help students with special needs.
THE NEW HILLCREST SCHOOL
The rapid growth of Ruston in the 1950’s and early 1960’s resulted in overcrowding at the aging Hillcrest School. Many subdivisions sprang up on the north side of town. The move to modernize schools was led by Superintendent of Schools, Morelle Emmons. The original Hillcrest building was 40 years old.
The plans were made to build a new elementary school on the north side of town. The school board bought the W. W. Johnson property, 900’ X 726’ tract on Kentucky Avenue and Northwood Drive, for $950 per acre. The new Hillcrest was part of a building program which included the construction of Hillcrest, Cypress Springs, Glen View Junior High, and addition to Ruston High. The contract for Hillcrest went to R. J. Jones and Sons of Alexandria for a total bid of $362,841. The new building was accepted in August, 1962 in time for the 1962-63 school year. The Hillcrest PTA preferred the Hillcrest for the new school.
In 1963, the principalship at Hillcrest and Cypress Springs were made into fulltime positions. The new Hillcrest school had a fine period of development with an excellent devoted faculty, a supportive parent group, and an energetic and enthusiastic student body.
The Hillcrest PTA (Parent Teacher Association), due to differences with the national PTA in some basic beliefs, changed its name to PTC(Parent Teacher Club) and was no longer affiliated with the PTA. The PTC continued as an active group. The PTC has conducted fund raising activities at the school to purchase needed items for the school and its students.
Kindergarten was added to Hillcrest in the 1967-68 school year with half day morning and afternoon sessions. In 1970-71, the court ordered an integration plan that brought full integration to Hillcrest with faculty and students. In the 1980’s, the emphasis was on mastering designated reading and math skills at set grade levels. The school adjusted to these changes and continues to provide good sound education for just over 450 students.
The new school has a very large playground area and a variety of playground equipment that is age-appropriate. An indoor gymnasium provides a place for an excellent physical education program for Kindergarten-Fifth students. The school also offers music, art, computer lab, gifted and talented classes for students. The auxiliary classes combined with basic classes provide a sound educational background for each student at Hillcrest Elementary.
1983/1985 Building Addition
Renovations were done to the existing building in 1985. Four classrooms were added. A library was built. Books were donated from individual classrooms and also purchased to begin the first centralized library for Hillcrest students. A multi-purpose room was added to be used for school-wide functions, parent-teacher meetings, music classes. Two restrooms were added. A computer lab was also added, but was used as a regular classroom before it was actually a computer lab.
The next major renovation began in the spring of 2005 funded by the Bond Millage renewal in 2004. This project took about two years to complete. Michael Walpole, Architect, headed up this project. The entire building got new lighting, flooring, ceiling tile, roofing, and paint. All rooms got new heat/cool units with additional venting. A new wing was added to the back of the building which included one large room for multi-purpose use. New restrooms for students and one new faculty restroom was in this area. Five classrooms were also included in this wing. A new bookroom was added here. A new intercom and fire alarm system were added to the entire building. Students got new chairs and desks for all classrooms. Old restrooms were updated with new fixtures, tile, lighting, etc. The office area was renovated. During this time, the Parent Teacher Club purchased new equipment for the playground. They also bought a stage curtain for the gym.
At this time, Hillcrest has a faculty that consists of 54. This includes 22 Kindergarten-Fifth Grade teachers, 3 special education teachers, 7 paraprofessionals, a librarian, computer lab proctor, art, music, speech, GT, visually-impaired and office staff. We have an enrollment of about 455 students, Kindergarten through Fifth Grade with two self-contained special education classes and one inclusion setting. The state of Louisiana places a great deal of importance on test results and schools receive a school performance score based on test scores, attendance, etc.
For the 2007-08 school year, Hillcrest received a school performance score of
109. 0. This is a growth of 6.4 points from the previous year. The growth label for the year is Exemplary Academic Growth.
Hillcrest proudly reached a school performance score of 111.5 for the 2008-2009 school year. This is a 3-star ranking. Teachers and students worked very hard to accomplish this by following the La. Comprehensive Curriculum; words of the week; DIBELS; and other parish initiatives. The growth score for 2009-2010 has been announced to be 119.2. This is quite an accomplishment and at this time this is the highest public school score.
For the 2010-2011 school year, Hillcrest continued to have four sections of Kindergarten, First Grade, and Second Grade. A fourth section of Third Grade was added because of an increase in student numbers. There were three sections each of Fourth and Fifth Grades.
Plans are underway at the present time for the number of sections to have in each grade level. Student numbers and funding cuts are the basis for the consideration in the number of sections and teachers each year. In 2010-11, the School Performance Score was 118.4 giving Hillcrest a B+ ranking according to state standards. In 2011-12, the enrollment at the end of the year was 475. That number of students was consistent throughout the year.
2012-13 brings about a monumental change for Hillcrest. Due to a desegregation order from the Justice Department in the 1960’s, the four elementary schools in Ruston (Cypress Springs, Glenview, Hillcrest, Ruston Elementary) will be reconfigured and paired. Hillcrest will be paired with Ruston Elementary and Glenview will be paired with Cypress Springs. Hillcrest and Glenview will house K, 1st, and 2nd. Cypress Springs and Ruston Elementary will house 3rd, 4th, and 5th. School faculties will be restructured with Ruston Elementary K, 1, 2 teachers going to Hillcrest and Hillcrest 3, 4, 5 teachers going to Ruston Elementary. City schools will share common supply lists, dress code, and student handbooks. Paired schools will work closely with each other. All four city elementary schools will work together to ensure similarities with K-2 and 3-5.
We are excited about this change and will work to make it successful.
The Hillcrest faculty and staff strive to provide a safe environment to insure that all students achieve high academic standards and develop good character. The goal is for all students to become productive adults in today’s society.
We are continuing our K-2 school configuration for 2014-15. Faculty and administration are ready to make changes and/or fine tune some changes put into place last year. Teachers, parents, and students will know what to expect this year.
2014-15 will be our third year with our Kindergarten-2nd grade students.
We are looking forward to a successful year.
In the spring of 2014, Hillcrest celebrated its 90th birthday. We hosted a
birthday celebration and invited former students, school board personnel, and
Hillcrest friends. Our guests toured the building with our teachers and staff providing directions and updated information for Hillcrest. After a tour, guests visited in the gym, had refreshments, and looked at Hillcrest photos and memorabilia. This celebration was a wonderful opportunity share the successes of Hillcrest.
2015-16 marked another renovation to Hillcrest. We added classrooms,
restrooms, and replaced carpet in our existing library. The classrooms will house special education inclusion, speech, SBLC/small testing area. There is room for growth if we are able to add additional sections of a grade level. We also added a security door system where visitors must be buzzed into the building, more cameras for security, and a redo of the front windows and doors.
2017-18 begins a new era for Hillcrest and the other city elementary schools. The Department of Justice has now dismissed the desegregation order from the 1960’s. We had the opportunity to redraw the zoning lines to make the zones more equal for the number of students attending each of the schools. This should allow Hillcrest to have an increase in enrollment. At this point we will continue with the same number of class sections with the understanding that more will be added as enrollment increases.
2018-19 will be a continuation of all of the good instructional time at Hillcrest. Students are always challenged academically. We place much stress on good behavior and teaching life skills. Our hope is to have this school year be our best yet.