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KHS History


Washington Street School, an all grades school, was built in 1904. It was from this school, the first graduation took place. By 1935 it was in such poor condition it could no longer be used as a school.

The first class to graduate in Kennewick, WA. Year - 1908
Standing: Fannie Smith, Nima Hoadly, Mae Sercombe, Ethel Thomkins Seated: Jay Perry, Audrey Fullerton, Lloyd Haxton
Not Pictured: Guy Story

Kennewick was officially incorporated on February 5, 1904. Previously, the town had been known by many names, the strangest was "Tehe" which was allegedly attributed to the reaction from a native girl's laughter when asked the name of the region.

The name "Kennewick" is believed to be a native word meaning "grassy place." It has also been called "winter paradise," mostly because of the mild winters in the area.

Our school is named after the city in which it resides.



The first Kennewick High School erected in 1911. It was located across from Keewaydin Park

Kennewick High School exact date unknown. Approximately 20 years later.

"The school bond election in February, 1911, carried with a vote of 383 to 207. Construction on the new high school commenced on July 21. In November the (local) paper reported, "Kennewick's new $50,000 school building stands complete and is one of the finest buildings in the northwest."

From the local paper on 5/24/1911:
- It is expected that ground will be broken for Kennewick's new $50,000 high school building next week. The building is to be erected of pressed brick, trimmed with glazed terra cotta and will be thoroughly modern throughout. It will have 27 rooms, an assembly hall, gymnasium, science laboratories, manual training and domestic science equipment.
(As reprinted in the Tri-City Herald under "On This Day" on 24 May 2007)

Beginning in 1912, the Kennewick school system contracted with the Pacific Lyceum for lectures, literary presentations, poetry readings and musical numbers to be held in the high school but open to adults as well as students. These continued until 1925 after being combined in 1921 with the Chataqua, which first came to Kennewick in 1917.

The first Kennewick High School annual was published by the class of 1920.

In September 1925 Kennewick had 614 students. Washington School had 8 rooms and 214 students; the high school-grade unit had 2 rooms and the extension, 3 rooms with 224 students. The high school had 142 students."

In April (of 1935), the school district announced it was facing capacity enrollment. Forty-five students graduated in 1935, but 84 were moving up from the eighth grade. Superintendent E. S. Black stressed the need for a new high school, or the school must rent quarters by the end of the year. The school board requested a federal grant to defray 45% of the cost. A school bond levy was put to a vote in July, but was turned down by voters. However, when the levy was put up again in September it carried with 25 votes to spare.

But this did not solve all the school problems. In August the state school inspector found Washington School in bad condition - floors sagged, the roof was improperly supported, the window frames and sashes were loose because of improper mortar, the west walls and footing had settled and the floors needed replacing.


KHS, built in 1936. High School students had classes on the east side of the building. Junior High students had classes on the west side of the building

KHS in 1953-1954 school year

Work on the new junior-senior high school started in January (1936) and the cornerstone was laid in April. All stores closed from 3:30 to 4:30 to allow a good attendance. E. S. Black, superintendent, reported the new school was most modern in every detail; reinforced concrete on outer walls and frame liner on inner walls, with central heating system and thermostatic control of all rooms."

The new school was 230 feet long and 133 feet deep, built on three sides of a hollow square. It faced north and was placed south and east of the previous high school building. It could comfortably house 600 pupils, with enrollment for the fall of 1936 expected to be around 500. Grades seventh through twelfth were housed in this new school. The high school built in 1912 was to be turned into an all lower grades school.

Before the new school was ever built, there was much debate on what emblem would be used as the school insignia. The freshmen class supported the "Lion"; sophomores, the "Panther"; juniors, the "Lion"; and the seniors, the "Viking." The vote was done by ballot with the final vote ending victoriously for the name "Lions"
(Source : "KIN-I-WAK, KENEWICK, TEHE, KENNEWICK" by Martha Berry Parker & article in the local newspaper April 5, 1934 & April 1, 1936)

Epidemic of Flu Hits School
In the afternoon of November 19, 1945, the school were ordered closed by order of Dr. Tudor due to an epidemic of flu which had hit the Kennewick-Pasco area. It was thought school would resume after the Thanksgiving holiday but, in fact, the school did not fully resume until December 3rd, giving students and teachers almost two full weeks of vacation time.

The week previous to the closure was marked with an increasing number of absences. All day Friday (16th) and the following Monday (19th), the nurses' room was full of patients. On Monday, Ilene Markham made trip after trip, taking home people who had become ill after coming to school. It was necessary to rush down town and get additional thermometers to take care of the students waiting to have their temperature taken. Anyone having any flu symptoms was sent home immediately. 365 students were absent with the flu. Several teachers were home with the flu, making it difficult to find substitutes for all of them.

School doors opened again on November 26th, but on taking roll, it was discovered that more students and teachers were absent than previous. There were now 475 students absent. At about 11 o'clock everyone was released and the school was closed for another week.
(Source: Lion's Roar November 23, 1945 & December 7, 1945)

Erwin S. Black
Erwin S. Black was Superintendant of Schools from 1936 to 1953.
(for more info on controversy surrounding E.S. Black, see court document on the page "KHS History - Part II")







KHS of 1936 is gone and the garden area at KHS has changed, yet the retaining wall and steps still exist 70 years later. Nov. 18, 2006






At one time the Lion's Den had only wooden bleachers. That changed in the mid 1960's with the construction of concrete bleachers on the south side of the stadium

Construction finished, the new concrete bleachers were a vast improvement over the old wooden bleachers which were still being used on the opposite side of the field.

From the Tri-City Herald, June 7, 1995, reprinted in the Tri-City Herald, June 7, 2007 under "On This Day" -

The renovation of the old Kennewick High School Stadium took another step closer to completion Wednesday with the announcement of the proposed name for the state-of-the-art facility - Neil F. Lampson Stadium. Lampson has been part of the community since 1917 and the owner of Neil F. Lampson Inc., which services cranes, trucks and barges nationwide.










Our thanks to Anji Fraser Pickard (1989) for the use of the book, "KIN-I-WAK, KENEWICK, TEHE, KENNEWICK", Donna Fisher for the picture of the 1936 KHS and Jerry & Deloris Sleater for the 1945 - 1946 Lion's Roar

for all your new, used and abused computers.


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