Richland High School (Washington)

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Coordinates: 46°16′43″N 119°17′17″W / 46.27861°N 119.28806°W / 46.27861; -119.28806

Richland High School
930 Long Ave
Richland, WA 99352
Type Public
Established 1910
School district Richland School District
Principal Mr. Tim Praino[1]
Enrollment +2000
Color(s)      Green
Information (509) 967-6535

Richland High School is located in Richland, Washington, in the south-eastern part of the state. It was founded as Columbia High School in 1910 to serve the educational needs of the small town of Richland. The building was replaced with a much larger structure by the US Army Corps of Engineers in 1944 as part of the Manhattan Project. The campus is located at 930 Long Ave.

The facilities were extensively renovated ca 1964. The facilities have also been remodeled in stages between 1995 and 2006. Until the founding of Hanford High School in 1972, Richland High served as the only high school in the entire city. The school is part of the Richland School District.

Name change[edit]

The school was named Columbia High School, or, as the students called it, Col Hi (pronounced 'cole high'), until the early 1980s. The official name was then changed to Richland High School . Popular sentiment at the time was to preserve the association between the name of the city and the high school basketball and football teams due to other schools in Washington State having the same or very similar names to Columbia High School. Prior to planning and construction of Hanford School in 1972, the initials "RHS" were strongly identified with Columbia High School. Cheers chanted at athletic competitions referred to "RHS", and the letters "RHS" were prominently displayed above the entrance to the school's gymnasium. Some say that the name was changed so that the smaller high-school component of the Hanford K-12 complex then under construction would not claim to be "Richland High School". Regardless, there was very strong feeling about the Col Hi basketball team which fueled some of the popular opposition to the bond issue which paid for construction of Hanford School through the proceeds of Col cat house. This opposition was most intense in the North end of town whose students would be enrolled in the new school and not at Col Hi. Some of the students who at the time voted against the change claim that the name was changed to avoid confusion with the nearby, and much smaller, Columbia High School in Burbank, Washington. Given the fact that Col Hi had been known as Columbia High School for a long time and played in a different division than the Burbank school, they believed that there was little reason to believe this argument and thus voted against the change. Many alumni from the era still refer to the school as Col Hi.


Richland highschool students take the EOC as their standardized test replacing the WASL in 2009. More information on the EOC can be found here.


Richland High has roughly 2,000 students, making it a 4A school by Washington's state classifications.

Art Dawald, the legendary Richland Bombers basketball coach who generated some of the state's best teams spanning four decades, died Thursday, September 30, 1993. Dawald and the Bombers were synonymous during his coaching career that ended in 1970. His teams were respected throughout the state. Dawald had a 406-149 record at Richland and took the Bombers to the state tournament 16 times. Dawald's teams were 225-54 in the Big Nine Conference. The Richland High basketball gym is named Art Dawald Gym in his honor.

Legendary Richland High coach Fran Rish died in early February 2006 at age 89, following a battle with lung cancer. Rish was Richland's football coach in the mid-1940s, and later was Richland's baseball coach. The football stadium, which is used for both Richland and Hanford High School events, is located immediately adjacent to the grounds of Richland High School, and was named Fran Rish Stadium in his honor in 1986.


Richland High has a strong and proud tradition in football. The Bombers were state champions in 1981 and 1999, and played in the title game in 1975, 1981, 1996, and 1999. The 1981 football team State champions were coached by Coach J.D. Covington,[2] whose history in Texas college football led the students to adopting the "hook 'em horns" logo and hand signs at that year's football games. The local Burger King offered commemorative glasses with both the Bomb/Mushroom cloud logo on one side and the 'Horns on the other. For four straight years under Coach Lonnie Pierson, between 1987–1990, the Bombers were undefeated in league play, and they were ranked nationally in 1989 and 1990.

Cross country[edit]

Richland was a cross country power in the early 1970s, winning a then-record five straight AAA state boys' titles under coaches Max Jensen (1970–72) and Mike Hepper (1973–74). Jensen went on to be a successful coach at Spokane Community College. The RHS girls' cross-country team won the state championship in 1993 under coach Mike Mills, and also qualified for state in 2005 and 2006.


RHS has a very strong girls and boys soccer program. The 1999 state champion team, led by future United States World Cup and Gold Medalist winning goalkeeper Hope Solo, was undefeated and ranked fourth in the nation. Both the boys' and girls' team were state champions in 2003.

Octavio DoValle Sr. has been the Richland High School boys soccer coach since 1987. Under his direction, the soccer program built the first dedicated high school soccer stadium in state history.


Richland High School's baseball team has been highly successful, winning four state titles in eleven years (1999,2005,2007,2009). Current coach Ben Jacobs is the winningest coach in school history with over 400 wins. One of Jacobs' notable alumni is Travis Buck of the Cleveland Indians, formerly of the Oakland Athletics.


Originally the school had no mascot (1910 to 1922). From 1922 to 1937 the mascot was the Colts; from 1938 to 1944, the Beaver. In the fall of 1945, after the atomic bombs were dropped, the war ended and many employees at Hanford donated a day's pay to an effort to raise money for a military airplane to contribute to the war effort, student decided to change the mascot to a bomb (of traditional elongated shape) painted in the school colors of green and gold (hence 'the Bombers'). After the end of World War II, students and Richland residents learned about the pivotal role the little community played is producing plutonium for the nuclear bomb dropped on Nagasaki. The actual timeframe belies this however. In June 1944 the campaign by Hanford workers to raise funds for the B-17 was conducted, with nearly 90% of the workers contributing. Upon completion of this warplane, it was flown to the Hanford construction camp (a community which has since been dismantled) and a dedication ceremony was conducted on July 23, 1944 and was documented in the community newspaper. On December 6, 1945 a group of civic-minded residents brought up the idea of purchasing the plane, but the concept never came to fruition. At no time in any documentation in any newspapers during this period was there mention of the high school in reference to this plane, nor was there any mention of it in the high school's yearbook of that year. 1944-1945 was the first official school year of the high school, and the nickname "Beavers" was the name appearing in that year's yearbook. A dented practice bomb painted the school colors of green and gold became the mascot, dragged onto the field at football games and pulled onto the basketball court on a cart. The mascot "The Bombers" is clearly shown in pictures of that year and for many years following. To this date, there are no pictures showing an airplane as a mascot for the school in its early years that have been produced, nor any school yearbooks or newspapers mentioning the warplane. The school was opened before the war ended, and there is no official record anywhere attaching the "Day's Pay" B-17 warplane to the high school during the early years of the high school. Into the 1950s and 1960s and through the 1980s, lettermen and "Pep Squad" logos awarded were in the distinct shape of a bomb and were colored green with gold lettering or numbers.[3] In later years, the nuclear cloud and phrase "Nuke 'Em," among others, became the unofficial mascots for the school. The nuclear cloud in conjunction with the old civic arms of Richland, WA appeared class rings and similar memorabilia. The civic arms consisted of an escutcheon divided by a Hopi sun symbol divided into four quadrants featuring such things as the PRTR nuclear reactor building, a schematic representation of an atom, and other references to local history and industry. This was typical of 1950's civic pride. The annual civic festival was called "Atomic Frontier Days" and various local businesses had "atomic" in their name. It is unknown whether or when a bomber officially became the mascot of the school. Depictions of bombers were not employed by Columbia High School during the 1950s and 1960s. Rather a bomb was carried into central court and set upright on its fins by a cheerleader during half time. There are claims that a B-17 bomber called "A Day's Pay" is currently the official mascot of the school. In 1988, amidst visits by Tom Brokaw (NBC Nightly News) and Japanese delegates, a vote was taken by the students making the Bomb (with the Mushroom Cloud logo) the official mascot of Richland High School.[4][5]

Timeline of the Mascot of Richland High School (Columbia High School)
1910 to 1922 - NO MASCOT
1922 to 1937 - RHS Colts
1938 to 1944 - RHS Broncs
-[ July, 1944 - B-17, "Day's Pay", delivered to USAAF—purchased by construction workers at Hanford Construction Camp]
1944 - Fall - from Broncs to Beavers (44-45 school year)
-08/06/45 - First A-Bomb (Little Boy) dropped on Hiroshima by B-29 Enola Gay.
-08/09/45 - Hanford-plutonium A-Bomb (Fat Man) dropped on Nagasaki by B-29 Bock's Car
-08/14/45 - WWII ended
10/12/45 - from Beavers to Bombers (45-46 school year)
12/15/10 - Bomb Mascot adopted (10-11 school year) this is not true, the ' bomb' was used as mascot well before the 2010 school year. Alumni from the early 60's have Letterman jackets, sweaters, and other school memorabilia adorned with a bomb. The tile mosaic of a bomb that was originally in the mixing area was there for at least two decades prior to the class of 2011. Alumni from the 1970s and early 1980s report sophomores (the school was only grades 10-12 at that time) were strongly discouraged (putting it mildly) from walking on the bomb inlaid in the mixing area floor.

The 1945-1946 Year book was adorned with Atomic symbols in reference to the contribution made in producing plutonium. First visible Mascot [1] was a Bomb. The mushroom cloud was adopted in the 1970s.

The history of the school, its nicknames, mascots and associations with the Hanford Works Project and the "Day's Pay" B-17 are well documented, with verifiable sources and references, and chronology in "The Bomber, The Bomb and the Bombers"[6] by Keith Maupin.



"Richland High Overview".