Education plays an important role in the history of our community. Washougal School District has the distinction of operating the first public school North of the Columbia River. In 1852 Washougal was the first school district to file with the Clark County Commissioners to be established as a public school district. At this time, much schooling was done at home or classes were held in churches and public buildings. The exact location of the first public school in Washougal is not known, but it was likely near the river, the site of many early land claims. A second school was built around 1847 on Joseph Gibbons’ property, now the Orchard Hills Golf Course. The first class of WHS students graduated in 1914 with a total of four graduates. Over the years more rural schools became part of Washougal School District, including Mt. Norway, Bear Prairie, and finally in 1966 Cape Horn-Skye joined the district.
In 1999, Washougal voters approved a 20-year general obligation bond to modernize and upgrade several district schools, including Washougal High School, Hathaway Elementary and Gause Elementary. At the same time, Cape Horn-Skye was also modernized and Canyon Creek Middle School was built.
In 2015, the Washougal community again supported schools with a general obligation bond to modernize schools and build a new K-5. Bond projects included safety and security upgrades at all sites, plus a new Columbia River Gorge Elementary, a complete demolition and reconstruction of Jemtegaard Middle School, and the construction of a new Excelsior building as an annex of WHS. The bond also funded improvements to WHS’ Fishback stadium bathroom and concessions, Gause parking lot and circulation, and a new Transportation facility on the property with the District Office and Maintenance facilities.
Ryan Schafte, class of 2009, scanned copies of several Washougal yearbooks as part of his Senior Project. These files are quite large, so they may take several minutes to download.
2014 was the WHS 100th Anniversary Commencement
“We have a very enthusiastic and loyal group of alumni,” said Pam Clark, Washougal Old Timers organizer. Clark, WHS Class of 1964, manages a large database of WHS alumni and helps organize a cruise in car show & potluck picnic each summer.
The community, alumni and current students came together for a celebration on Thursday, April 24, 2014 at Washougal High School, celebrating the 100th commencement at WHS. There were displays of Washougal High School memorabilia such as yearbooks, uniforms, programs and letterman jackets, a photo slideshow and remarks from former graduates. “This event was a great way to celebrate the achievements of our grads and our school,” said Dawn Tarzian, superintendent of schools in 2014.
Historic Time Table
|1792||Lt. William Robert Broughton claims Washougal area for Britain|
|1806||Lewis and Clark camp near the mouth of the Washougal River.|
|1845||David Parker moves to the area and establishes Parkersville.|
|1847||Gibbons family takes up land claim on what is now the Orchard Hills Golf Course. A two-room school was built on this property.|
|1852||Clark County commissioners named six school districts in Southwest Washington.|
|1880||Town of Washougal established.|
|1887||First Skye School built.|
|1889||Washington State admitted to United States.|
|1891||Two story, four room school built on property donated by David Shepherd.|
|1910||Eight-room grammar school built on property donated by the Hathaways. Second Skye School built.|
|1911||Cape Horn School built.|
|1914||First graduating class from Washougal High School, four students graduate.|
|1925||Columbia School built, called Washougal High School at the time.|
|1925||Mt. Norway and Bear Prairie Schools become part of Washougal School District.|
|1927||Forest Hill School becomes part of Washougal School District.|
|1944||Sunnyside and Fir Grove Schools become part of Washougal School District.|
|1952||Gause Elementary built.|
|1956||Current Washougal High School built.|
|1958||Current Cape Horn-Skye School built.|
|1966||Cape Horn-Skye becomes part of Washougal School District.|
|1981||Jemtegaard Middle School built.|
|1990||Viewpoint Alternative High School founded in Columbia Building.|
|1997||Viewpoint renamed Excelsior High School.|
|2001||Canyon Creek Middle School built.|
|2001||Cape Horn-Skye Elementary remodeled.|
|2001||Gause Elementary remodeled.|
|2001||Washougal High School remodeled.|
|2002||Hathaway Elementary remodeled.|
|2004||District Office and Maintenance Facility built on Kerr Property|
|2016||Excelsior High School closed, building demolished to make room for new WHS annex|
|2017||Transportation Facility built on Kerr Property|
|2017||Jemtegaard Middle School remodeled.|
|2017||Columbia River Gorge Elementary School built.|
|2017||Excelsior building at WHS built.|