History of Nathan Hale High School


The area northeast of Seattle, was part of the Shoreline School District until 1954. For a number of years that area had only one secondary school, Jane Addams. Steady population growth during the 1950s meant a new high school would soon be needed. In the planning stage, the school was given the temporary name of Northeast High School. This was later changed to Meadowbrook High School.

The site for the new school, originally part of the Fisher Dairy, had most recently been the Meadowbrook Golf Course. While the school was under construction, new guidelines and procedures for the naming of schools were adopted. As a result, the name Meadowbrook was replaced by Nathan Hale. Once built, the school building and parking lot were positioned on either side of Thornton Creek, which runs west to east through the property. The site is directly across the street from Jane Addams.

Nathan Hale High School was one of several schools for which the Seattle Parks Department paid a portion of the building construction in exchange for title to adjacent land to be used for recreational facilities.

The first principal, Claude Turner, helped design the school. In its first year, Hale opened to sophomores and juniors only, with just 1,206 students. Two years later, it had a student body of 2,002. By the late 1960s, Hale’s enrollment had reached 2,400, and 24 portables were in use.

Named after the American Revolutionary War hero, who proclaimed, “I only regret that I have but one life to lose for my country,” Nathan Hale assumed independence as a school-wide theme. Its colors are red, white, and blue, and its student body is at liberty to pursue diverse fields of study. The likeness of a 1776 Minuteman on its distinctive smokestack was painted in the dark of night, presumably by a student or students. The hallways are painted red, white and blue.

A new learning resource center opened in fall 1972, nearly doubling the size of the school’s original library. The community chose to use bond money for the learning resource center, rather than for an auditorium, so the high school continued to use the Addams auditorium for its dramatic productions.

From 1964 through the mid-1970s, Nathan Hale was a sports powerhouse, winning the Metro championships in several sports three out of four years in a row. The music department also excelled, with the stage band capturing numerous regional awards.

The district’s 1978 desegregation plan cut the number of schools feeding Hale from ten to four. Some of these feeder schools were closed, drastically cutting into Hale’s enrollment, despite the addition of 9th graders in September 1979. Some students who would have attended Hale were sent to south end schools.

Hale is unique for its radio station, the only one operating at a Seattle public school. Broadcasting at 89.5FM, KNHC went on the air in January 1971 as a 10-watt station under the direction of teacher Lawrence Adams. Threatened by budget cuts in 1980–81, the station was saved by allowing Seattle Central Community College students to use the station as a laboratory 28 hours per week in exchange for help supporting the station. In January 1982, the station adopted a new full-time soul, rap, rhythm and blues format, which included a 4-hour jazz show.

Taken from Nathan Hale's "School Histories" section of seattleschools.org website.

Current information about Nathan Hale High School today can be accessed via these links: