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RHS: School has been in session for 50 years

From left: Redmond High School grads Anna Sturdivant (‘07), Brian Schnierer (‘02), Holly Applegate (‘01), Jason Palmer (‘96), Mike Pluschke (‘90), Cheryl Ferry (‘86) and John Bailie (‘81) all now work at the school. The seven alumni-turned-staff are showing off yearbooks from their own high school days. RHS turns 50 years old this year. - Samantha Pak, Redmond Reporter
From left: Redmond High School grads Anna Sturdivant (‘07), Brian Schnierer (‘02), Holly Applegate (‘01), Jason Palmer (‘96), Mike Pluschke (‘90), Cheryl Ferry (‘86) and John Bailie (‘81) all now work at the school. The seven alumni-turned-staff are showing off yearbooks from their own high school days. RHS turns 50 years old this year.
— image credit: Samantha Pak, Redmond Reporter

When the Lake Washington School District (LWSD) began in 1944, high school students from Juanita, Kirkland and Redmond all attended Lake Washington High School (LWHS).

Twenty years later, the district opened a second high school to accommodate the growing population and in September 1964, Redmond High School (RHS) saw its first batch of students.

To celebrate this upcoming 50th anniversary, the school will be holding a celebration event beginning at 7 p.m. on Thursday.

A CELEBRATION FOR THE PAST AND PRESENT

RHS associate principal Lloyd Higgins said aside from a short greeting at the beginning of the evening, there will be no real formal program.

“It’s more just like a reunion of everyone that ever went here and everyone that’s ever worked here,” he said, though he added that there is an all-staff photo scheduled for 8:15 p.m. that evening for anyone and everyone there who has ever worked at RHS.

Adam Desautels — a current RHS English teacher who is helping to organize next week’s event with Higgins along with former athletic director Denny Rieger and former English teacher Doug Kimball — said there is a strong “alumni” group for former RHS staff and people are excited to visit and see people they have not seen in many years.

“Redmond High School has served the students of Redmond well,” said LWSD Superintendent Dr. Traci Pierce. “This outstanding high school has also served as a community center, providing a performing arts venue and athletic facilities enjoyed by many community groups and Redmond residents. Redmond High has developed a reputation for academic excellence and even attracts families to Redmond so their students can attend this school. My congratulations to the many classes of Mustangs and to the teachers and staff members who through 50 academic years have encouraged learning and achievement in our community.”

In addition to reconnecting with former colleagues and classmates, people will also have the chance to tour the building, which was constructed in 2003, replacing the original building from 1964.

While the evening event will give former students and staff the chance to celebrate RHS’s 50th anniversary, current students and staff will also celebrate the school’s milestone during the day in an assembly. Students and staff also filmed a “lip dub” video to Outkast’s “Hey Ya!” this week that will be shown at both events next week.

COMEBACK KIDS

Desautels said, upon learning that RHS is in its 50th year, many of the staff and students have been surprised. He said they didn’t realize the school was that old but are excited for the upcoming celebrations.

“I am amazed that RHS is turning 50,” said Anna Sturdivant, who graduated from the school in 2007. “I will forever remember fond memories and people when I think of RHS. I can only think about the thousands of relationships and memories that have been made here at RHS over the years.”

In addition to being an alumna, Sturdivant is in her first year teaching history at RHS and is one of seven staff members who returned to the school after graduating.

“That means they loved it,” said Higgins, who has been at RHS for 17 years, about the returners. “They loved it enough to come back.”

For Jason Palmer, class of 1996, this was very much the case, saying his experience at RHS was so memorable he made it his No. 1 goal to get his first teaching job with his alma mater. As a former RHS athlete (in various sports), Palmer’s return to RHS came through football after volunteering as a coach with a youth football program.

“I enjoyed teaching and working with the kids, during that season,” he said. “I decided to pursue my teaching degree.”

After completing his degree, he was hired as a special education teacher at RHS in 2007.

STRONG SCHOOL SPIRIT

Palmer reconnected with RHS through Mike Pluschke — another alumnus teaching at the school. Pluschke graduated from RHS in 1990 and has been a physical education teacher at the school for 11 years.

Many of his favorite memories at RHS as a student revolved around school assemblies and when the Mustangs’ basketball team made it to state in 1988 and 1989 and “dunked their way to back-to-back state titles.”

“The fanbase was so intense that they covered from basket to basket, one complete side of the Key Arena when our teams played,” Pluschke said. “Our gym at Redmond High School was always packed and left people standing outside wanting to get in. School spirit was amazing!”

Holly Applegate, class of 2001, also has fond memories or sporting events and school spirit at RHS, saying homecoming festivities were always something to look forward to. In addition, the school’s Mr. and Ms. Mustang shows were always entertaining and involved lots of the student body.

“The cafeteria and stage area was packed with so many people who came out to watch the show,” said Applegate, who has been teaching social studies at RHS for eight years. “There were some very funny performances.”

The remaining RHS alumni-turned-staff are stadium manager John Bailie (class of 1981), Cheryl Ferry in the Career Center (class of 1986) and science teacher Brian Schnierer (class of 2002).

Rieger came onto the RHS scene during the school’s second year in 1965 and worked there for 26 years. Along with being athletic director, over the years he was assistant principal, history and weight training teacher and was a fixture on the sports scene as head coach for football and baseball and assistant coach for wrestling and track.

He reminisced about the old days: “The staff was very close because the school was about the only thing going on (during) the weekends in Redmond. There was a Mustang Round-up every spring and the kids would ride horses to school and tie them to the fence by the football field. There was an assembly that involved teacher skits, etc., then outside booths sold food, there was competition, dunk tanks and a full day of fun.”

Rieger said it’s sometimes hard to believe that when RHS opened, the road to the school ended at the pool. There was nothing but trees below the high school.

“We had cross country trails that went miles without seeing the same tree,” he said.

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