Ballard High School (Seattle)

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Ballard High School
1418 Northwest 65th Street


CoordinatesCoordinates: 47°40′36″N 122°22′30″W / 47.676564°N 122.375037°W / 47.676564; -122.375037
TypePublic, coeducational
MottoTo honor thee we trophies bring
Established1903, 116 years ago
School districtSeattle Public Schools
PrincipalKeven Wynkoop
Athletic DirectorJason Thurston
Enrollment1,856[1] (2016-2017)
Average class size27
Campus size12.71 acres (51,436 m²)
Color(s)Red and black          
Fight song"Cheer Cheer"
Athletics18 varsity teams
Athletics conferenceSea-King: Metro 3A
RivalRoosevelt High School
NewspaperThe Talisman[2]
YearbookThe Shingle
Communities servedBallard, Queen Anne, Magnolia, Greenwood, Crown Hill, Phinney Ridge, Fremont, Interbay
Feeder schoolsMarcus Whitman Middle School, McClure Middle School, Salmon Bay K-8, Hamilton International Middle School
Ballard HS 02 entry.jpg
Main entrance
Main south facade

Ballard High School is a high school in Seattle, Washington, United States, located in the Ballard neighborhood.

Mission statement[edit]

The school's mission statement, adopted in May, 2008, is "Ballard High School is an inclusive, supportive community that cultivates a tradition of excellence for all students."[3]


Ballard High School began in the fall of 1901, when the Ballard School District added grades eleven and twelve to the already existing Central School, creating the first four-year high school in the Ballard area. The very small school, soon to be known as Ballard High School, was located at 5308 Tallman Avenue. There were three people on the faculty, including the principal, Harry F. Giles. The first graduating class had four students and held its commencement on June 23, 1902.[3]

By 1905, enrollment had grown to 80 students. Ballard became part of the city of Seattle in 1907, and the high school became part of the Seattle Public School System.[3]

Ballard High School moved to its present location during Christmas vacation 1915. The school could accommodate 1,000 students. Three hundred of them were transferred from Lincoln.

The building was remodeled three times, once in 1925, then again in 1941 and for the last time in 1959. At that time, the student body had grown to over 2,000.[3]

That structure was demolished in the summer of 1997 due to asbestos contamination, and was replaced with the current facility. The student body was housed in the old Lincoln High School building during the 1997-98 and 1998-99 school years. Lincoln was undergoing a remodel to become a middle school. The students who attended Ballard at Lincoln High had no bells to mark classes, limited classrooms, and cubically separated classrooms in the library and gymnasium facilities for the 1997-98 school year. This was due to the fact that half of the facility at Lincoln was still closed for renovations (the half that held the majority of the divided classrooms). Finally in September 1999, Ballard High School returned to 1418 NW 65th Street to occupy a new building with the ability to accommodate evolving technology and more than 1,500 students. There are several classrooms that do not have windows.[3]

1994 shooting[edit]

The first murder ever of a student on Seattle School District property happened in 1994 outside Ballard High School.[4] Then 16-year-old Brian Ronquillo, a student at Shorewood High School, fired a gun eight times into a group of students as a car he was in drove past Ballard High School. Melissa Fernandes, a 16-year-old Ballard student, was shot and killed, although she was not the intended target. Ronquillo was sentenced to 51 years in prison for the gang-related shooting.[5]

Clubs and organizations[edit]

Speech and Debate Team[edit]

The Speech and Debate Team returned to BHS after nearly 20 years without a forensics program at the school. The team offers all types of debate and speech events recognized by the National Forensics League. Students in the program participate in Policy Debate, Lincoln Douglas Debate, Public Forum Debate, Extemporaneous Speaking, Original Oratory and Dramatic Interpretation.[6] It is the only completely paperless high school team in the state of Washington.[citation needed]

BHS Viking Robotics[edit]

Ballard High School's Viking Robotics - Team 2928 was founded in 2008 by Craig Nielsen. Currently, the team has over 60 member and aims to teach students the values of engineering, and to provide the students with real world experience with the engineering process. Viking Robotics competes in the FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC), FRC is a high school level robotics competition that combines the excitement of sport with the rigors of science and technology. Under strict rules, limited resources, and time limits, teams of 25 students or more are challenged to raise funds, hone teamwork skills, and build and program robots to perform in a complex competitions. Volunteer professional mentors lend their time and talents to guide each team. In 2017, Viking Robotics won the FRC World Championship in Houston, becoming the first team from the Pacific Northwest to win the FIRST Championship.[7] Viking Robotics has 5 sub teams that each work on a different aspect of the robot. Mechanical builds the robot, Electrical wires the robot, programming programs the robot and Business designs the website, team shirts, summits the awards for competitions, and raises the $100,000 necessary to build, compete, and travel to competitions. [8]

Academic programs[edit]

Academies (schools within a school)[edit]

Ballard High maintains three formal academies on campus: Biotechnology Career Academy, Finance Academy, and Maritime Academy. Each comprises an integrated curriculum across content areas. Students enrolled in these academies are part of the Ballard student population but have chosen to participate in a specific content area of focus.

The Biotechnology Career Academy is a three-year program that links science, language arts, and mathematics as the integrated curriculum. This academy enrolls one starting ninth grade cohort and one tenth grade cohort each year, and has done so since 1997. The science focus begins with biology in the first year, followed by chemistry the second year, and concludes with genetics in the third and final year. Each year, a student project helps prepare students for public speaking, project organization and writing skills.

The Finance Academy integrates class work with interactive project that prepare students for career positions.

The Maritime Academy combines classroom experience with field trips that include active learning. Students have acted as crew on the schooner Zodiac and the Virginia V, the only active wooden steamboat on the west coast. The students receive state boater cards. The academy is home to exclusive internships aboard the Virginia V. It is currently the only high school program of its kind in the United States.

Digital Filmmaking Program[edit]

Since its beginning in the fall of 2001, students from the BHS Digital Filmmaking Program have won hundreds of awards at regional, state, national, and international film festivals.[9] Based on their portfolios they have won numerous honors from the National YoungArts Foundation and the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, and have consistently gained admission to prestigious college programs of film and television, sometimes with large scholarships.[10][11] They have been invited to show their work and make presentations at numerous film festivals, media conferences, and art museums. Some of the students have even made history. Jesse Harris (’04) became the youngest person ever to write and direct a feature film that received multi-state theatrical release when his senior project, the film Living Life, opened in Landmark Theaters the April after he graduated.[12] In 2007, Kyle Seago (’07) and Jesse Harris (’04) co-founded the National Film Festival for Talented Youth (NFFTY). NFFTY has since become the largest youth film festival in the world. The program has provided professional production internships through a variety of media organizations and businesses, as well as a number of feature films. A Professional Advisory Committee supports the program. The Digital Filmmaking Program is open to BHS students in all grades. Students planning to pursue degrees or careers in film/television production, broadcast journalism, art, advertising, media studies, or public relations should enroll no later than their sophomore year to begin to build a portfolio that meets college and industry application requirements. All classes are electives, fulfill either the Fine Art or the Occupational Education requirement, and result in a digital portfolio.[13]


The award-winning Ballard High School Music Department, the most complete high school music program in the city, is proud of its rich musical history.[citation needed] Under the direction of Michael James, Elizabeth Fortune, and Courtney Rowley, the program has gained a reputation throughout the Northwest and beyond for its high level of musical excellence.[citation needed] BHS students have the opportunity to participate in a wide range of music ensembles and experiences, including a full range of offerings in choir, band, orchestra, and jazz. Opportunities include concerts, community performances, parades, festivals, competitions, camps, and group travel. The program fosters an atmosphere which allows all students to grow musically while learning to be team members and develop individual artistry. Over 300 students participate in the music program, and Ballard's music alumni have gone on to attend many of the nation’s most prestigious music schools.[citation needed] In 2012, Ballard's advanced jazz ensemble qualified for the first time to participate in the Starbucks Hot Java Cool Jazz performance at the Paramount Theatre in Seattle as well as the Essentially Ellington Jazz Competition in New York City.[14]

Notable alumni[edit]


  1. ^ "School Report for the 2016–2017 School Year" (PDF). Seattle Public Schools. Retrieved 4 July 2018.
  2. ^ The Talisman
  3. ^ a b c d e History of Ballard High School
  4. ^ Tizon, Alex. "The Story Of A Drive-By Murder". The Seattle Times. Retrieved 22 March 2014.
  5. ^ de Leon, John. "Man sentenced 2nd time for 1994 shooting at Ballard High School". The Seattle Times. Retrieved 22 March 2014.
  6. ^ "Ballard Beavers Speech and Debate". About the Team. Archived from the original on September 19, 2011. Retrieved Sep 18, 2011.
  7. ^ "Seattle high school robotics team brings home world championship by beating 400 other groups". Retrieved Feb 13, 2019.
  8. ^ "Viking Robotics About the team". Retrieved Feb 13, 2019.
  9. ^
  10. ^
  11. ^
  12. ^
  13. ^ BHS Video Production Program blog
  14. ^ [1]
  15. ^ a b c d e f g h i "Wall of Recognition". Ballard High School Foundation. Retrieved January 22, 2017.
  16. ^ "Smart '69". Ballard High School Foundation. Retrieved January 22, 2017.

External links[edit]