WRHS 100th Anniversary

Washburn Rural High School will mark its 100th year in 2018. A number of activities and events will take place throughout the year to honor the milestone. The year-long celebration kicked off with homecoming on September 15. Other centennial-themed activities are planned throughout the year. These include:

  • Essay Contest
  • Book Donation
  • Golf Tournament
    • Sunday, April 22 at 1:00 PM
  • Alumni Reunion Dinner
    • Saturday, May 5 at 5:00 PM
  • Post Prom

Centennial Video

We are thrilled to introduce "Washburn Rural High School, Our Story: The First 100 Years." Over a year in the making, this short film commemorates our first century as a public school and celebrates the rich history and traditions that have spanned five generations of students and staff. We would like to thank all of those who were involved in the project, but especially Mr. Bruce Steinbrock, who provided the narration; Gizmo Pictures, the production company; The Topeka Capital-Journal and the WRHS Yearbook/Journalism program for the still images; and The WRHS Blues Backer Organization, The Shuler Education Center Staff, and the Auburn-Washburn USD 437 Board of Education for their financial support!


The school began in 1918 when the Washburn University preparatory academy and its neighbors south and west came together to form Washburn High School. Classes were held in the basement of the university's MacVicar Chapel from 1918 to 1939. Students enjoyed the privileges of using the college library, gymnasium, and science laboratories. Since the high school was located on the college campus, the same colors of blue and white, and the college mascot, Ichabod Washburn, were adopted by the high school. Students from Washburn High School became known as the Junior Ichabods.

Image shows the progression of the Washburn Rural High School mascot from 1949-2008.

By 1939, the crowded conditions on the campus forced Washburn High School to build its very own building located at the intersection of 19th and Hope streets. In 1946, the school became officially known as Washburn Rural High School. For many years, the high school enjoyed its own building which began in a rural setting. However, by 1953, the city had expanded, surrounding the school and forcing it to a new location on SW Wanamaker Road.

Within about 10 years, the school outgrew this location and in the fall of 1964 a new school was opened at SW 61st Street and Wanamaker Road. The old building was transformed into Jay Shideler Junior High School and then Jay Shideler Elementary School.

Over 100 students were enrolled at the new WRHS in 1964, many of them third generation Junior Ichabods. This was the fifth building that had housed the high school since 1918. Since opening, the current school has undergone ten expansions and renovations. It is currently one of the largest high schools in Kansas with a grade 9-12 enrollment over 1,900. It is also one of the highest performing schools in Kansas.


As patrons of Washburn Rural High School, we are inviting you to participate in one of the most significant milestones that our school will ever experience: our Centennial Anniversary. The last century has been steeped in tradition, success, and pride. We are confident that tomorrow will bring even greater achievements for our students and community.

The graduates of Washburn Rural High School have enriched American life through professional contributions in the fields of medicine, entertainment, law, public service, education, and research. Year in and year out, our athletic and activities programs distinguish themselves on the State and National levels. Additionally, we are routinely recognized as one of the finest high schools in the United States by publications such as U.S. News & World Report or Newsweek. While all of these are outward signs of our commitment to excellence, what defines and sustains us is the community we serve and the support we are given. So today, we are writing to ask you to join us in securing the promise of the next century for our students.

In conjunction with all of the events and celebrations which will occur throughout the coming year, we are undertaking an ambitious fundraising initiative on behalf of our students. Every dollar we raise will go to benefit our students in one of two ways: through the establishment of a scholarship for first generation college and technical school students and through supporting a technology implementation in an after-school program that directly benefits elementary students in our school district. With the ever-increasing costs of post-secondary education and rising levels of child poverty, both initiatives are timely and necessary.