Henry Foss High School

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Henry Foss High School
2112 South Tyler Street
Tacoma, Washington 98405

(Pierce County)
Type Public, Coeducational high school
Established 1973
Status Open
School district Tacoma Public Schools
CEEB code 481383
Principal Lysandra D.M. Ness
Faculty 140
Grades 9-12
Number of students 1,085 (2011)
Campus type Closed
Color(s) Green and Gold and 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]


Daffodil Festival[edit]

Each year, Henry Foss High School participates in the Pierce County Daffodil Festival, a regional tradition since 1933. Each year a competition is held in the fall within the school, for the title of Henry Foss Daffodil Princess. Once selected, the Henry Foss Princess joins other area school representatives in competition for the title of Daffodil Festival Queen. A prestigious regional award, Henry Foss princesses often return to the parade as area celebrity alumni. At Henry Foss High School, every princess is professionally photographed, and her portrait is displayed alongside every other Henry Foss Princess in the school hallway.

Air Force Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps[edit]

Henry Foss High School is host to an AFJROTC program. It develops leadership, self-discipline, citizenship, and patriotism within students.

January 2007 shooting[edit]

On January 3, 2007, 17-year-old student Samnang Kok was shot to death in the school's hallway as classes were about to resume after Winter break. 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]


  1. ^ "International Baccalaureate". Ibo.org. Retrieved 2013-10-25. 
  2. ^ "Tacoma Public Schools". Retrieved 2013-10-25. 
  3. ^ "Gates opens college doors Education grants - 7 South Sound high schools among 16 in state to share $109 million for restructuring & scholarships". Pqasb.pqarchiver.com. Retrieved 2013-10-03. 
  4. ^ "Threat to boycott WASL test defused". Pqasb.pqarchiver.com. Retrieved 2013-10-03. 
  5. ^ "Faculty at Foss like the old way". Pqasb.pqarchiver.com. Retrieved 2013-10-03. 
  6. ^ [1] Archived May 20, 2006, at the Wayback Machine.
  7. ^ "Foss High School killer gets 23-year prison term". KOMO News. 2009-06-05. Retrieved 2016-07-21. 

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