Henry Foss High School

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Henry Foss High School
2112 South Tyler Street
Type Public, Coeducational high school
Established 1973
Principal Bonnie McGuire
Faculty 140
Grades 9-12
Number of students 1,085 (2011)
Color(s) Green, Gold, White
Mascot Falcons
Newspaper Foss Focus
Yearbook Calypso

Henry Foss High School is an American high school in Tacoma, Washington. Named after civic leader and tugboat tycoon Henry Foss, the school first opened in 1973. It is currently a part of the Tacoma Public School District.


In 1982, Foss became the first high school in Washington State to introduce the International Baccalaureate Diploma Program.[1][2]

In the spring of 2001, the school was selected by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation as an Achiever High School in Washington State. The school received a $9 million grant to restructure college preparation efforts, as well as an additional $100 million in scholarships.[3] Among the efforts funded by these grants was a restructuring of the school into smaller "academies", a move unpopular with some faculty and students. In April 2004, a group of Foss sophomores threatened to boycott Washington Assessment of Student Learning (WASL) standardized tests if the school board did not promise to retain pre-IB honors courses in English and history. The principal and school board promised to offer these honor classes in the academies, and the boycott was called off. However, the school ultimately removed the pre-IB classes and replaced them with Honors courses.[4]

In March 2006, the faculty voted by a 60-40 margin not to apply for a renewal of the Gates Foundation grant; those opposed argued that the grant "destroyed good programs" in the school, including the IB Program and the "team teaching" structure.[5] Shortly after, Tacoma Schools Superintendent Jim Shoemaker directed the school's principal to override this decision and apply for a grant extension.[6]

January 2007 shooting[edit]

On January 2,2007, 17-year-old Samnang Kok was shot to death in the school's hallway in the early morning. The 18-year-old student Douglas Chanthabouly was convicted of Kok's murder, and was sentenced to 23 years in prison.[7]

Notable alumni[edit]


Coordinates: 47°14′22″N 122°29′43″W / 47.23944°N 122.49528°W / 47.23944; -122.49528