Richland High School (Washington)

Richland High School (Washington)

Infobox_School | name=Richland High School

principal=Mr. Gordon Comfort
enrollment=1,935 (As of 2006)
Green & Gold
location=930 Long Ave
Richland, WA 99352
website= [ Richland High School, Home of the Bombers]
information= (509) 967-6535

Richland High School is a public high school 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

The school was named Columbia High School, or, as the students called it, Col Hi (pronounced 'cole high'), until the mid 1970s. The official name was then changed to Richland High School, circa 1983. Popular sentiment at the time was to preserve the association between the name of the city and the high school basketball team. Prior to planning and construction of Hanford School, Columbia High School was also referred to as "RHS" in cheers chanted at athletic competitions. 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. 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.


RHS 10th grade students take the WASL (Washington Assessment of Student Learning) to measure how well students are progressing in meeting state academic standards. In 2005-06, the percentages of students passing the WASL standards were: Reading, 100%; Math, 58.6%; Writing, 83.0%; and Science, 40.1%. These scores are higher than the average score for the whole state. Additional information may be found at the [ WASL web site]


Richland High has roughly 2,000 students, making it a 4A school by Washington's state classifications. In 2005, the varsity boys' basketball team made it to regionals, the girls' basketball team made it to state, and the varsity baseball team won the state title in 1999, 2005, and 2007.

Art Dawald, the legendary Richland Bomber 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 feared -- and respected -- from one corner of the state to the other. 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 name 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 1975, 1981, 1996, and 1999 Bomber teams played for the state championship, coming home as State Champs in '81 and '99. For four straight years under Coach Lonnie Pearson, between 1987 - 1990, the Bombers were undefeated in league play and ranked nationally in '89 and '90.

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 successful coach at Spokane Community College. The RHS girls' cross-country team qualified for state in 2005 and 2006.

RHS has a very strong girls soccer program. The 1999 state champion team, led by future United States World Cup goalkeeper Hope Solo, was undefeated and ranked fourth in the nation.

Famous Students

*James (Jim) F. Albaugh - Executive Vice President, The Boeing Company, class of 1968
*Travis Buck - Oakland Athletics outfielder, class of 2002
*Larry Coryell - Jazz guitarist, class of 1961
*Gene Conley - Major League Basketball and Baseball player, class of 1947?
*Westley Allan Dodd - Serial killer and child molester, class of 1979, hanged January 5, 1993
*James N. Mattis - Lieutenant General, United States Marine Corps class of 1968
*George Naughton - Research Support Scientist II, CNR, University of Idaho
*Hope Solo - United States women's national soccer team goalkeeper, class of 1999
*Sharon Tate - Actress, murder victim, Miss Richland 1959, moved before graduatuon
*Dale Merrill - Choreographer, former artistic director of Spectrum Dance Theater, class of 1976


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 an atomic bomb was dropped on Nagasaki, students changed the mascot to a bomb and called themselves the Bombers. The plutonium that was in that bomb was manufactured by workers at nearby Hanford Nuclear Site as part of the Manhattan Project. Use of the mushroom cloud painted on a bomb as a mascot has been the subject of intermittent controversy. 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 R-MushroomCloud logo) the official mascot of Richland High School.

Many recent students have also attached themselves to another symbol, a B-17 Flying Fortress bomber named Day's Pay — Hanford workers donated a day's pay to fund construction of the bomber airplane by Boeing.

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