School History

Washington High School

Location: 7340 Leavenworth Road

Named for US President George Washington

Other Name:  Rural High School District No. 2 of Wyandotte County, Kansas, was formed by an election of electors of the district held June 10, 1930. At that time there was voted the location of the present building site, the boundary established and the issuance of $175,000.00 in bonds for the purchase of the building site and the construction of a new high school building.  (See additional information on page for Welborn Elementary.)

“A History of the Origin and Establishment of Washington Rural High School – Bethel, Kansas” – As contained in news articles found in the Kansas City Star and Times, Kansas City Kansan, and the Bonner Springs Chieftain – Apr 1929 to Feb 1932 – submitted by David C. Grove, Jan 1966  (.pdf)  (Containing excerpts relative to Welborn, Vance, Bethel, Hazel Grove, Lindbergh, Pomeroy, Nearman, Wolcott, Pleasant Ridge, and White Church schools/communities.)

History of consolidation as related in KCKs Public Schools in Years of Change, 1962-1986, Dr. Oren L. Plucker, 1987

On July 14, 1930, the newly formed Rural High School District No. 2 held an election at the Vance Church for the purpose of electing the board. H.J. Perry was elected Director, J.J. Bigham, Clerk, and Earl B. Newby, Treasurer.

The progress of the formation of the district, the purchase of the site and the construction of the new school building was temporarily delayed by the filing of an injunction suite in the District Court of Wyandotte County, Kansas, by several taxpayers who claimed irregularities in the formation of the district and the election of its officers. The suit was filed the latter part of August, 1930, and by decree of the Honorable William H. McCamish, Judge of Division No. 3, of the District Court of Wyandotte County, Kansas, on October 9, 1930, the formation of the district and all proceedings in relation thereto was held to be regular. Still more delay was occasioned by an appeal of this action to the Supreme Court of the State of Kansas, but on March 7, 1931, the Supreme Court rendered its decision, written by Justice Burch, in which the ruling of Judge McCamish was upheld and validity of the district firmly established.

The board has been assisted in its work by an advisory committee composed of the following members, Vorhies Sorter, District No. 18; R. Schuler, District No. 14; V. L. Miller, District No. 23; H. L. Deister, District No. 34; August Haase, District No. 36; Wm. C Keltner, District No. 6; J. H. Ford, District No. 11; A. D. Shepherd, District No. 25; Harry G. Randall, District No. 10, who, with the help of the departments of education of the University of Kansas, and the Kansas State College of Manhattan, Kansas, rendered invaluable services to the board in the selection of suitable plans for the new building.

On the 24th day of March, 1931, the board of the district received bids and sold $125,000.00 in bonds of the district of authorized issue of $175,000.00 and on the 18th day of May, 1931, proceeded to receive bids for the construction of a new high school building according to the plans and specifications prepared by Peterson and Almon, architects. The contract for the construction of the building was let to E. D. Shuck, a general contractor and a resident of the district.

On April 9, 1931, the district held its first Annual Meeting in the White Church School building at 2:00 p.m. At this meeting H. J. Perry was re-elected Director for the ensuing three year term.

In constructing the present building, Rural High School District No. 2 of Wyandotte County, Kansas has completed an immense temple of education. It is estimated that the cost of the new building will be approximately $142,690.00. It is situated on a beautiful eight acre tract of land at one of the highest points within the district.

The cornerstone of the new high school building was laid on August 15, 1931, at 3:00 p.m. and ceremonies in connection therewith were conducted by the Honorable J. Forest Ayers, Grand Master of the Masonic Lodge of the State of Kansas. Mr. Ayers used the same trowel which was used by George Washington in laying the cornerstone of the national Capitol at Washington, D.C. 1793. This historic trowel is the property of the Alexandria Lodge of Alexandria, Virginia, and its use in the laying of the cornerstone of the high school building was the first time it has been in the State of Kansas. In order to secure this trowel for the ceremonies it was necessary under the rules and requirements of that lodge, that three officers of the lodge accompany the trowel on its journey here and return. The expense of bringing the trowel with its custodians to the ceremony was raised by popular subscription. The cornerstone was purchased by residents of the district and their friends, some living outside of the district. Each subscription toward the corner stone was limited to ten cents and Mrs. J. I. Reeder of Welborn, Kansas, was named by the board as general chairman to raise the required amount. The laying of the cornerstone and the ceremonies were officially conducted by the Delaware Masonic Lodge of White Church of which Henry Danielson was the Worshipful Master. The oration of the occasion was delivered by his Honorable U. S. Guyer, Representative in Congress from this district, and the music was furnished by the Koontz Girls Band.

Rural High School District No. 2 functioned as such for the first time by taking over the Welborn High School from District No. 10, and continued as a Barnes High School the last month of the school year of 1930-31 under the following faculty:  Mr. H. F. Wilson, Miss Florence Hart, Miss Vera Stockwell, Mr. Loren Hancuff, Miss Loretta Burns, Miss Effie Covell, Mr. Kenneth Davis, Miss Iva Allen

In May, 1931, the following students were graduated from the school:  Roy Lee Baker, Delores A. Judd, Urban Singleton, Margaret G. Brown, Sarah E. Keister, Esther A. Sammons, Virginia Lee Burns, Bessie Keltner, Grace H. Swallow, Howard Campbell, Fredric Arthur Kiene, Mary A Stratton, Katheryn J. Curry, Ralph W. Meyn, John Hamilton Wacaser, Marguerite E. J. Custer, Mary Francis Morrison, Gladys Ione Umphrey, Thomas Melvin, Daniel Armin, C. Ogden, Joseph A. Wahlin, Olive Thelma Dillon, Robert F. Patterson, Gertrude Elizabeth Younghans, Anna Bell Freeman, Virginia Viola Phillips, Margaret E. Gill, Claude Y. Pitts, Houston A. Guinan, Winifred Eleanor Wilson, Louise Elda Horstman, John L. Roemerman, Lester L. Johnson, Emma Lucille Reeder

On September 14, 1931, Rural High School District No. 2 opened school at the Welborn Community Church at Welborn with the following faculty in charge:  Mr. O. H. Coberly, Miss Ruth Anderson, Miss Effie Covell, Mr. Kenneth Davis, Miss Iva Allen, Mrs. Eunice Pomeroy, Mr. Claude Huyck, Miss Vera Stockwell, Miss Ellen Eagle, Mr. Loren Hancuff.

During the fall of 1931, much discussion was had in the district relative to a suitable name for the new high school. Finally, the name Washington Rural High School was suggested and the adoption of that name resulted. On Monday, January 4, 1932, classes were held in the new Washington Rural High school building for the first time.

Much credit is due the Washington Rural High School Parent Teachers Association for the invaluable services and assistance rendered the board in the publication of this souvenir booklet and in the preparation of the dedicatory program.

On the occasion of the dedication of the Washington Rural High School the district finds itself in possession of one of the most modern and up-to-date high school buildings in the state of Kansas, a noble monument to education and an institution that will live long in the memories of the students. Every resident in the district should be justly proud of the achievement in which he has participated.


1929 – A delegation of patrons of the Welborn School conferred with Olive I. Thompson, County Superintendent, in regard to enlargement of school facilities. Enrollment was over 500 in grades, junior high and high school.

It was suggested that district might consolidate with another district or KCK school board might be asked to annex Welborn.

In June, Welborn citizens were interested in making community a third class city, thus retaining its identity, rather then be taken into a larger city. The patrons want a high school.

The Welborn School was originally the Six Mile School (six miles west of Kansas City, Kansas), the original building being designed by D.B. Peterson, with four classrooms. In 1929/1930, the District was notified that KCK school districts could no longer accept students from county districts even if they paid the $90 required tuition, because of overcrowded conditions in city schools.

Bond election for funds to build new building carried 366 for to 324 against.

1930 – In February of 1930, Bond elections were invalid because of insufficient and improper petition being made in calling the election.

March: Petition signed by 514 taxpayers to create a new high school district under the Barnes school law. Districts proposed to consolidate into high school district are: Pleasant Hill, Hazel Grove, White Church, Pomeroy, Wolcott, Nearman and Welborn. The community was divided on high school consolidation program or bind program for Welborn district; and in April, the Welborn bond proposal was defeated.

The proposed district boundaries for consolidation high school district were: South, Reidy Road; North, the Missouri River; West, the limits of the Piper School District; east, the school limits of Kansas City, Kansas.

In June, the vote for a new high school district carried and it was to be known as Rural High School District #2 (later to become USD 201, and being consolidated with USD 500 in January of 1967). Three propositions were voted on: creation of rural district; providing $175,000 in bonds for a new building; and locating the new school at a point on the Leavenworth Road and the Leavenworth inter-urban between Vance and Bethel.

All propositions carried and it was anticipated that the building would be completed by September, 1931.

1931 – August 15: Cornerstone laid.

NOTE: From the Historical and Architectural Survey, KC Planning & Zoning, Phase 4, 1994: Almon and Peterson, Architects. Built in 1931-32, Washington High School features Art Deco ornamentation in its use of low-relief geometrical designs and stylized floral motifs. Curiously, the pyramidal roof tower at the central bay echoes some of Rose’s early school projects ( Franklin and Lowell Elementary Schools ).  Washington was originally a rural school serving the western part of Wyandotte County. Eventually surrounded by post World War II suburban development, it became part of the KCKs school system following annexation of the area in 1965-67. Extensive additions were carried out in the post war era by Joseph W. Radotinsky.

1932 – February 22: Dedication of building.

1947 – Bus service for Washington High School begin with their inauguran run in 1947; the bus being drive by Principal Claude Huyck.  (Thank you to Mrs. Mary Ann Heinson for the newspaper article.)

1952 – Addition of classrooms, gymnasium and cafeteria.Schools in KCKs in Years of Change 1962-1986, Dr. Oren L. Plucker, 1986

1962 – Girls gymnasium remodeled.

The Washington district, known as District #201, was formed in 1962 with the merger of a number of elementary school districts into one unified district and with the Washington Rural High School District. Because of enrollment growth and overcrowding in the elementary districts, two junior high schools, Arrowhead and Coronado, were established for grades 7-9 by the Washington district and were opened in 1961 prior to the official establishment of USD #201. Schools in KCKs in Years of Change 1962-1986, Dr. Oren L. Plucker, 1986

1965 – Addition of classrooms, pool, auditorium and remodeling. Schools in KCKs in Years of Change 1962-1986, Dr. Oren L. Plucker, 1986

1967 – The election, held on February 3, 1966 in the Washington district only, resulted in approval by a narrow margin, 2363 “no” votes and 2602 “yes” votes or a majority of only 239. The merger posed various political, financial, educational, and staffing problems which would be addressed with the merger. Schools in KCKs in Years of Change 1962-1986, Dr. Oren L. Plucker, 1986

January 1: Official acceptance by the BOE of KCKs (USD 500) of the attachment of the Washington district, assuming responsibility for the 10,497 students of District #201. Schools in KCKs in Years of Change 1962-1986, Dr. Oren L. Plucker, 1986

1974 – New all-weather track built.  Schools in KCKs in Years of Change 1962-1986, Dr. Oren L. Plucker, 1986

Enrollment in the Washington area increased at an unprecedented pace as a result of migration to the suburban area. The migration was almost totally white. The Washington Rural High School district and the various elementary school districts had, even before the 1954 Brown vs. BOE, operated on a non-segregated basis, enrolling both Black and white students. However, with the exception of the small Vernon elementary district (located in the extreme northeast corner of the Washington district), numbers of minority students were very small. “Schools in KCKs in Years of Change, 1964-86,Schools in KCKs in Years of Change 1962-1986, Dr. Oren L. Plucker, 1986

1993-94 – Became a Citizenship and Public Affairs Magnet School. First year serves grade 9 only. One grade will be added each year until magnet serves grades 9-12 in 1997-98. First year of Air Force JROTC program.

1994 – District stadium at Washington named “H.D. Neill Stadium,” in honor of former principal, Hobert D. Neill. Dedication services in April, 1994 during Washington Track Relays, started by Mr. Neill.

2003 – Voters approved a proposed $120 million bond issue at the Municipal Election Tuesday (April 3, 2001) to air-condition schools, improve technology, and make other upgrades to schools and public libraries. Washington was part of Phase III, which was completed in the summer of 2003.

2004 – Received a “Great IDEAS” grant (funded/sponsored by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Fund) for the 2004-05 school year, which encourages teachers in SLC’s (Small Learning Communities) to work together to develop innovative programs and projects to improve student learning.  Received $5,000.

2006: “Were you aware that the Washington High School Athletic Field will be 50 this fall? It was opened on September 28, 1956 with a 19-14 victory over Atchison.”
Dave Pinkelman – Washington HS 1959