School Profile

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    View Historical Photos of Highland Terrace

    The following historical account is from:

    Shore to Shore and Line to Line: a history of the Shoreline School District : Shoreline Public Schools, 60 years, 1944-2004..1st ed. Shoreline, WA: Shoreline Historical Museum, 2007.

    On September 2, 1958 Highland Terrace Elementary School opened its doors to local Shoreline students, becoming the 17th school in the Shoreline School District. The building was constructed solely from federal funds with a final cost of roughly $500,000. Located at 100 North 160th Street, Highland Terrace stands on an area of land that was once heavily forested. Neighbors recall being dismayed that the forest would be clear-cut for the construction of the school, but once the school opened, they were pleasantly surprised at how much positive energy the school brought to the neighborhood. The Highland Terrace’s first principal was Bert Billdt; he lead the building until 1968.

    In the beginning, Highland Terrace, students learned to read with Dick, Jane, and Sally: “Look. Look, Jane, look.” When students finished each book, they were allowed to take it home and read it to their parents.

    When the school opened, lunch cost $.30 and milk cost $.03 and came in little glass bottles. All the girls saved their paper bottle caps from the milk bottles and students had huge collections that they kept in paper sacks. The lunch room attendant would dismiss students for recess after checking that they had finished every bite of their lunch.

    Recess was very popular for students even though the only playground equipment at the time were bars and tetherball poles. Rings and some climbing equipment were added in later years. Students played hopscotch and a bobby pin was always the best marker in the game. They would search diligently each day for one that someone had dropped onto the playground. If students were unable to find bobby pins, students used small twigs. Favorite recess activities for the girls included playing a game called Chinese jump rope. Students made the jump ropes by tying together old nylons. Students also played kickball, although they would call it soccer. Softball was enthusiastically played in the spring after students listened to the mandatory lecture about how to participate safely.

    In the early 1960s, kindergarten through third grades were released from school one and a half hours earlier than the intermediate grade students. Buses carried students to homes in the nearby Westminster Triangle neighborhood, because it was too dangerous to allow students to walk across Westminister Avenue. The bus would first make stops in the Highlands neighborhood resulting in a forty-five minute trip for the Westminster Triangle students.

    Second grade was a year of phonics. Students learned countless little ditties such as “When two vowels go walking, the first one usually does the talking” and made little books with their own words that showed phonetic examples of that rule.

    Smallpox vaccinations and tuberculin tests were given at school to all the children. Students attended assemblies to learn about the immunizations and tests. If students tested positive for the tuberculin test, they would have an X-ray to make sure they were not candidates for an iron lung.

    The space race during this decade was in full swing as the United States and the U.S.S.R. competed for dominance in space. Roger Chaffee, an astronaut originally slotted for a trip to the moon, but who was killed in an on-the-ground Apollo fire in 1967, came to an assembly to talk to students about the space race. When a Mercury or Gemini rocket was launched into space or returned to the earth, students spent the whole day watching, seeing history come alive from their classroom television. Highland Terrace students watched the first American astronaut, Alan Shepherd, rocket into space and splash down later that same day, and another time watched the total coverage of John Glenn’s three orbits of the earth. Teachers wrapped yarn around globes to show students the path of Glenn’s orbit.

    The Seattle World’s Fair opened in 1962 and field trips every successive year at Highland Terrace included trips to the Pacific Science Center.

    In the midst of the Cold War and at the height of the Cuban Missile Crisis, students learned about atomic bombs and greatly feared the Communists. Emergency preparedness consisted of air-raid drills as well as fire drills. When the air-raid drill blast sounded, all students were to go to pre-assigned meeting places located in the breezeways of the school. Divided into groups according to proximity of home address, all students of any grade who lived close together met in the same location and were handed little cards with their home address printed on them. A teacher was assigned to each group and, in case of a nuclear attack, would be responsible for walking each group of students home. On one occasion, this drill was practiced in its entirety, with students walking all the way home. The school wanted to time the drill as well as assure students and parents that there was an effective plan for responding to nuclear attack.

    During the early 1960s at Highland Terrace sonic booms often interrupted instructional time at school. Despite teacher efforts to keep students focused on their learning, students would rush to the windows to watch as Boeing test flights flew overhead.

    Highland Terrace students from the 1960s recall an academic focus on curriculum “units.” During second grade, students had a unit on transportation, which culminated with the class taking a field trip riding a train from Everett back to Edmonds. They had another unit on bread, which ended with a trip to the Langendorf Bakery to see how bread was made.

    During the History of Seattle unit, the rows of desks were renamed the Ballard Bridge, Fremont Bridge, Aurora Bridge, Freeway Bridge, University Bridge, and Montlake Bridge. The field trip for that unit was to the Museum of History and Industry.

    The Japan unit included painting Japanese characters on rice paper, and going on a field trip to the International District to watch the baking of fortune cookies and dine at Bush Garden Japanese restaurant. In those days, students would go to the stage in the cafeteria to watch instructional movies instead of doing so in the classroom.

    Upon graduating Highland Terrace, students in the 1960s would move up to Nicholas Murray Butler Junior High which was located on the south end of the current Shorewood High School campus. The last day of sixth grade ended with dixie cups filled with orange sherbet and vanilla ice cream. Students ate them in celebration of a wonderful elementary school experience.

    George Eells succeeded Bert Billdt as Highland Terrace’s principal and served from 1968 to 1971.

    In the spring of 1971, the Shoreline School District’s levy failed both times in the wake of the Boeing bust. For a while, students were scared that Highland Terrace might be one of the schools that would have to close. Instead, Ronald Elementary School closed, with half of the students moving to Highland Terrace and the other half going to Sunset Elementary School. Several teachers were laid off and much of the staff changed the following year. Principal George Eells left and Joe Pettelle took his place, serving until 1977.

    Due to the school closures and the addition of so many students to Highland Terrace, students were required to attend for only half days for the first few weeks of school. Half the students attended in the morning, the other half in the afternoon. By early October, the district found a way for students to attend school full-time. In the late 1960s and early 1970s, Friday afternoons were devoted to something called “Flexible Scheduling.” Parents and teachers partnered together to offer classes on things from stamp collecting, chess, and cooking to ice skating and bowling. After the levy failed, Flexible Scheduling came to an end.

    Lloyd Cleven took over as Highland Terrace’s principal from 1977 to 1979. In 1979, Robert Hadeen took on the principal position at Highland Terrace, and served through 1980.

    The 1980s started with new leadership at Highland Terrace as Delia Broderick began her career as principal. Broderick originally taught at Highland Terrace and led the school through its transition to a primary (K-3) school. She continued to serve until 1992. During this period, Sunset was the intermediate (4-6) school for students living in the Highland Terrace community. Students were known as the Highland Terrace “Superstars.”

    Broderick also led Highland Terrace through its remodeling process which lasted from September 1990 to June of 1992. To allow for the remodeling, students spent two years at the Cordell Hull Jr. High facility, which is now Meridian Park Elementary School. Over that two year period, teachers had a great deal of input into the remodeling of the new school. New ideas included the pods in the halls, maximized light and window space, upbeat colors, new furniture, redesigned floor plans, and an open-concept Library at the center of the school. The Highland Terrace community was very satisfied and excited with the results!

    During the two years Highland Terrace was housed at Cordell Hull, a massive snowstorm hit in mid-afternoon, and by the 3:30 dismissal time, the buses were unable to make it through the snow to pick up the students. Many ended up staying at school until almost 7:00 that night as the snow continued to fall and the school lost electricity. This was in the era before cell phones and emergency kits. The buses eventually made it through the snow and all of the students got home safely. Perhaps as a reponse to this memorable storm, now every school has emergency kits, flashlights, cell phones, and food!

    Moving back to the remodeled Highland Terrace in the fall of 1992 was a grand event. Liz Wells was Highland Terrace’s new principal, and she continued her career until 2002, at which point she took on the position of Shoreline School District’s Director of Human Resources. The new building was barely finished as students started unpacking boxes just before the first day of school!

    For the 1992-1993 school year, Highland Terrace was still a primary school, but for the 1993-1994 school year Highland Terrace and Sunset both converted back to a K-6 program. With this transition, half of the staff and half of the students were new to Highland Terrace.

    Students had a contest to choose a new mascot and school colors. With one of the choices being the Highland Terrace Chipmunks, students finally agreed to be the Highland Terrace Orcas. Highland Terrace’s beloved music teacher, Mrs. Nelson, wrote the Highland Terrace Orca Song which continues to be sung at each “Friday Sing.”

    Miriam Tencate was Highland Terrace’s principal from 2002-2009.

    The Pancake Breakfast has been a Highland Terrace tradition from its earliest days. This annual event has always drawn large crowds and owes its long-lasting success to the tireless efforts of the Highland Terrace PTA, staff, and students.

    Another Highland Terrace tradition has been Field Day. Hot lunches that day always include hamburgers, potato salad, carrot sticks, milk, and ice cream dixie cups. In the past, Catholic students were always given the option of fish sticks instead of hamburgers because field days were usually on Fridays – the day that they were not allowed to eat meat.

    The following historical information was written after the publication of “Shore to Shore and Line to Line.”

    In the fall of 2007, Sunset Elementary and North City Elementary were closed. Attendance boundaries were redefined and many students attended new schools. Under the leadership of Principal Miriam Tencate, Highland Terrace and Sunset teachers, parents, and students worked together to build a new learning community. Highland Terrace embraced Sunset’s long tradition of celebrating the arts. In the spring, the Highland Terrace PTA hosts an “Art Walk” to showcase the artistic achievements of the students.

    Highland Terrace celebrated its 50th anniversary during the February Pancake Breakfast of 2009.

    Mike VanOrden began his position as principal of Highland Terrace in September of 2009.

    The current principal is Mrs. Lara Drew.

    Writers and Contributors: Christy (Hoven) Buren, Marlene (Anderson) Lopez, Darla Jacobson Sjoquist, Steve Vitalich, Erin Tenney, Heather Down, Kyla Renfrow, David Matthews, Kate McKnight, Molly Tourtelot, Taylor Griffith, Nora Thompson, Natalie Carrasco, Kristi Riggin, Nancy Nissen, Ed Blackwood, Liz Wells, Cheryl Grennan, Brandi Shepherd, Sarah Hill, Georgia Hill, Danny Felts, Carly Greyell, Marion Jones, Frank Kleyn, Miriam Tencate, Donna Hoffman