New Highline High School campus shines, including its athletic facilities

By Rayjaun Stelly
Photos courtesy of Highline Public Schools

The Highline High School students and teachers, which opened its doors in the early 1920s, said goodbye last year to a historic landmark in Burien where generations of families walked in and out for nearly a century of use.

The school – which was over 90 years old – was identified as a top priority for capital improvements. The building was outdated and had failing mechanical systems, which ultimately meant that the infrastructure was not up to date to support the current technology expected in schools.

Despite new additions, followed by occasional renovations, the school had run its course exceeding the physical life of the buildings. The last renovation was 25 years ago and involved remodeling classrooms, but excluding the heating and plumbing systems that needed attention. Plumbing was in bad shape, mechanical systems faltered, sprinkler system leaks and failing cornice joints when they had a building review in 2013. On some rainy days, classes even had to be canceled due to leaking roofs.

Demolition began in June 2019, demolition began in July and lasted until October, as the building was so old that the bricks could not be salvaged or distributed to the public due to toxins. After the demolition, construction started immediately in November. Progress is still being made as the school is expected to open in the fall of the upcoming 2021-22 school year.

On the athletic side, Highline’s brand new tennis court was completed in February earlier this year, for which they cut a ribbon, also involving the coach and some players.

Here’s more from Highline Public Schools:

Highline High School Tennis Coach Scott Babcock cut the ribbon at a very small, very wet ceremony on Feb. 26 to mark the completion of six new purple tennis courts on the Sunnydale site. Tennis players Graham Luethe and Emily Vorng (both Class of 2022) held up the ends of the ribbon attached to their rackets.

After speeches were cut short by a rainstorm, Athletic Director Lori Box (’85) challenged Scott, who is in his 26th year as a tennis and band teacher, to a match. Graham and Emily have argued. And alumni games were played by Dave Larson (’69), Julie (Fenton) Kemp (’81), Jim Kemp (’81), Eric Todd (’99) and Jacqueline Kemp (’16). Finally, Lori also played Highline’s Director of Athletics Phil Willenbrock. No word on who won!

The lanes – located just south of the Sunnydale campus – are purple with gold and white stripes. A bathroom facility is nearby. A large drainage wall has been constructed between the courts and the existing football field on the south.

This spring and at least part of the summer, the courts will be used only by the tennis team. The new courts will open to the public during the day, outside school hours, once the Highline High School construction project reaches a phase dubbed “substantial completion,” which is estimated to be mid-July.

New Highline High School campus shines, including the sports facilities

New Highline High School campus shines, including sports facilities

New Highline High School campus shines, including sports facilities

New Highline High School campus shines, including sports facilities

New Highline High School campus shines, including sports facilities

Also, the school gymnasium is finished, filled with purple and gold in the stands and field, followed by their school mascot – a pirate on the wall. The baseline reads ‘Highline Pirates’ and the letter ‘H’ on half-court. The school’s gymnasium will be used for both boys’ and girls’ sports, including basketball, volleyball, wrestling and gymnastics.

New Highline High School campus shines, including sports facilities

New Highline High School campus shines, including sports facilities

The exterior of Highline High, such as the buildings, the historic main and southeast entrances, the southeast courtyard and the west side driveway are all finished. Currently, construction has moved from the southeast corner to the northwest corner of the site and the new school is still scheduled to open in September.

Everyone is invited to celebrate the grand reopening of Highline High School’s new state-of-the-art campus at one of these events during Homecoming Week this fall:

🏫Grand Opening Ceremony and Community Tours
Thursday, October 21, 6 – 8 p.m.

🏫 Alumni Reception & Tours
Friday, October 22, 3:00 PM – 5:00 PM

“Make a plan to attend the football game Friday night and cheer on the Pirates!”

And if you haven’t been flying over the brand new campus lately, here’s a drone’s-eyed view courtesy of social studies teacher Jeb Binns:

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