Washburn Rural High Schools serves as the high school for all of Auburn-Washburn's six attendance areas and continues to uphold its long-standing tradition of excellence.
Washburn Rural High School provides a progressive environment of world-class academics, athletics, and activities to foster all students' desires to learn and achieve through open discussion and self-discovery. As educators in pursuit of student success, we continually enhance our skills and knowledge, so we may offer the most relevant, effective curriculum in order to realize this vision.
We want all students to have a voice, to fulfill their potential, and to realize their dreams. Our vision is to inspire and empower our school community as we embrace exceptional education.
On January 3, 1866, Washburn College opened a preparatory school. This school was housed in the basement of the college's building known as "The Academy". In 1893 the preparatory school of Washburn College, which had been functioning throughout the years, was officially titled the "Academy of Washburn College."
On April 3, 1918, President Parley Womer, of Washburn College, announced plans to discontinue the Academy, and establish an accredited four-year public high school. The interested citizens in the rural community just west and south of the city voted the school into existence on July 6, 1918. Thus, Washburn Academy ceased to exist, and Washburn High School opened in the fall of 1918.
Two weeks after classes started, school was suspended due to an influenza quarantine. The ban was lifted after a month, and school was continued until the first of December, when the quarantine was declared again. School opened for the third time around the first of January, and continued without interruption until the end of the year. The total enrollment of 140 shrank to 90, and in June the school graduated a class of three.
Classes were held in the basement of the MacVicar Chapel from 1918 to 1939, then moved briefly during the 1939 to 1940 term to the "Old Ichabod Inn" on the Washburn College Campus. 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.
By 1939, the crowded conditions on the campus became evident, and plans were made to "move the high school out." In the fall of 1940, Washburn High School moved into its very own building located at the intersection of 19th and Hope streets. Even though the students had many memories of the Washburn College Campus, they eagerly plunged into the educational program. By 1943, the second generation of Junior Ichabods was attending Washburn High School. 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.
In the summer and fall of 1953, a new school on Wanamaker Road was the scene of intense activity, as the entire staff assisted in the move to the new building. On November 10, 1953, the open house and dedication were held.
The years on Wanamaker Road were good ones for WRHS but 1964 would be the last for the high school at this location. The fall of 1964 found the high school staff and students enjoying a new building on south 61st Street. Over 100 students were enrolled - many third generation Junior Ichabods. This was the fifth building that had housed the high school since 1918. The old high school building became Jay Shideler Junior High School, and, later, Jay Shideler Elementary.
With the fall of 1966, the enrollment grew as the students from Auburn High School transferred to WRHS, and the district consolidated to become Auburn-Washburn Unified School District #437. Wilbur A. McElroy was appointed the first superintendent.
In 1971, mobile classrooms were added to WRHS. Kaw Valley Area Vo-Tech School began enrolling WRHS students in 1972. The Booster Club and The Hall of Fame program were formed in 1975. A new classroom addition was completed in October of 1983. The auditorium, Gym B, and the "west end" classroom addition, including the science wing were added in 1986.
The last major expansion to WRHS was added in 1994. It gave the high school a new look with the main entrance back on the east side of the building. The main or east administrative office space, cafeteria, commons, and three kiosks: one each for food service, attendance, and inside concessions were added. The two-story "north end" classroom addition, library, and guidance office were also added while the Special Education, Science, and Music departments all received face-lifts.
The late '90s brought several outside athletic additions to the high school, which included the field house locker room complex added in 1997, the major stadium renovation that included a new concession area, press box, and restrooms in 1998, and a baseball/softball complex located off of 58th Street in 1999.
At the end of the first semester, in the 2009-2010 school year, construction on a new library addition and some new classrooms were completed. Construction of a new gym, classroom, and entrance was completed in 2012.
Today, Washburn Rural High School houses students from seven elementary schools and one middle school.
Washburn Rural High School is always changing, but many of the traditions that started in the beginning are still in practice today.