School History

A Brief History of Juanita High School

It began as an idea as part of the 1960’s educational change. In the early days, known as the “Juanita Concept”, JHS was developed and nurtured in the late 1960’s by John Strauss, Juanita’s first principal, and came to fruition with the opening of Juanita in 1971. The concept included an open architectural design sometimes compared to the architecture of a warehouse. Juanita’s large open area was surrounded by an auditorium, music area, industrial arts and art area, photo and business rooms, the KIVA, science room and the main office. The Juanita concept embraced innovative educational concepts, like respect for the student, mastery learning, performance based learning, credit for work completed, individualized instruction, and the development of lifelong learning skills. Ironically some of these concepts have reemerged as hallmarks of recent education reform.

Juanita High first opened its doors in 1971 with students from Lake Washington and Redmond High Schools. These students established our Rebel mascot, and red, white, and blue as our school colors.  A close second to our Juanita Rebel was the Juanita Eagles. The Rebel symbolizes our break from tradition in the same manner as the thirteen colonies broke from England. The eagle was placed above our crest as a compromise for those who wanted the eagle to be our mascot. The mountain is Mt. Rainier; and the water represents Puget Sound and Lake Washington.

Juanita officially opened on September 4, 1971, but because the building was not ready for occupancy until November 13, the first nine weeks were spent double shifting at Redmond High School. The curriculum for math, science, social studies, and language arts was contracted with the Westinghouse Learning Corporation for the first two years of Juanita’s existence. Assignments were printed in teaching-student units (TLU’s) which were obtained from the teacher. Students tested individually in the Testing Center and tests were scored overnight by a computer that resided in Iowa City, Iowa and results were reported on printouts posted outside teachers’ office cubicles the next morning. Many people confused this computer with “Chester”, which was housed in the blue plexiglas structure, located in several different places in the open area during the first ten years of Juanita’s existence. Chester was, in fact, an audio and video tape retrieval machine, that allowed students throughout the building to listen to audio tapes or view video tapes (there were many audio channels and two video channels) using headphones and monitors in carrels sprinkled throughout the open area.

The schedule that was used the first two years was quite revolutionary and controversial. It consisted of seventeen 20-minute periods, called “mods” which allowed both large and small group instruction. The purpose was to encourage individualization and accommodate partial credit. Most classes were small—12 to 16 students—and student schedules were flexible, with about 60% of their time in class and about 40% unstructured. Students were expected to work on homework assignments and testing during that time. The free time and small class size allowed a strong camaraderie to blossom between staff and students. Classes in the open area met at seminar tables scattered throughout. In 1973 the mod schedule was replaced by a seven-period schedule, and that schedule was replaced in 1981 with the six period schedule, the one Juanita uses today along with occasional block scheduled days.

Many factors affected Juanita’s inability to maintain the “Juanita Concept”. One of the biggest was the Basic Education Law passed by the Washington legislature in the mid-1970’s, which based school district funding on students being “in class” 55-minutes for six periods a day. The 12-16 student classes swelled to 30-33 students and the open area was transformed into a collection of ordinary classrooms partially separated by small wooden student lockers and cupboards. It was not long until talk of “remodel” was heard; 1984 saw the beginning of a two year remodeling project which partitioned the “open area” into classrooms and hallways. Juanita took on the look that it has today.

Over the years Juanita has racked up a number of impressive sports achievements. There were state football championships (1984, l985), state girls’ basketball championships (1981, 1986), boys basketball championship (1984), baseball championships (1985, 1987, 1992), as well as many individual state champions. Juanita has had some great coaches, among them, Bob Anderson, Dick Bjerke, Chuck Tarbox, Doug Steensland, and Gary Groenen. When it was completed in 1971, the Juanita Field House was one of the finest athletic facilities in the state.

There have been a number of outstanding activities that are remembered by Juanita alum and staff as being first rate. Hundreds of Juanita students participated in the German Exchange program directed by “Frau” Annelies Clauson and later Ingrid Strom. Others have showcased their talents through Multicultural Club led by Joan Horn. Juanita’s art program has been the source of inspiration to thousands of Juanita students. Thousands of students have also participated in Juanita’s drama program and music program. Veteran Juanita teachers associated with those programs (Ruth Davis Tedder, Elizabeth McMurray-Hauk, Tom Reich, and Bruce Gutgesell) have influenced and are respected by many Juanita graduates.

The Salmon Enhancement project, D.E.C.A. program, and construction of the solar greenhouse furthered Juanita’s reputation as an innovative institution. The salmon enhancement project, under the direction of long time science teacher, Gib Moore, begun during the 1978-79 school year, involved the clean-up of Juanita Creek, and culminated with the return of over 300 salmon to the creek in 1984. The D.E.C.A. program, overseen by George Spear, accumulated much state and national recognition. The solar green house, financed by a federal grant written by Juanita students, under the direction of Tom Short, assisted by Bob Koll, was completed in 1982 with a dedication planned and conducted by Juanita students.

In 1980 and 1984 Juanita students participated school-wide in mock political conventions. In 1983 the Juanita projects class organized the school-wide Elizabethan Faire. In 1988 a school-wide silent 18-minute reading period was introduced and was part of Juanita life until the early 2000’s.

It is said that the more things change, the more they remain the same. This has been proven at Juanita in several ways. Mr. Jensen’s school-wide clean-ups are now known as Rebel Pride Day, a Saturday in May when students and staff spend time beautifying Juanita. The planning period of 1971 and 1972 reemerged in 2000 as advisory period, renamed in 2003 as Reb Time. Mardi Fasch Ca, a spring community-wide carnival sponsored by the World Language Department, reemerged in 2002 as Juanita Field Day.

As Juanita looks forward to its 32nd graduating class in 2004, it remains a source of educational innovation, and academic and competitive excellence, but most of all, a school where students and staff care about each other and about the future. Today Juanita continues to value individuality. We still do not always conform to other high schools. Our teachers and staff want what is best for all our students.

By Dave Vannet
Juanita Teaching Intern, 1971-1972
Social Studies Teacher, 1973-1988
Librarian, 1988-2002

Ruth Davis Tedder
English Teacher, 1972-2004