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  Mission Statement  

Columbia High School provides a stimulating learning environment, where students of all abilities thrive academically and socially, and are well-equipped to meet the challenges and expectations of education, work, and life.

  About The School  

Columbia High School, Home of the Bruins

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Motivated students, highly trained and honored teachers, and challenging curriculum are hallmarks at Columbia High School. This combination prepares students to graduate –ready to take on the challenge of their futures.

Columbia High School is located in White Salmon, Washington, in the Columbia River Gorge, about an hour drive east of Portland, Oregon. White Salmon is a small town with a population of approximately 2,500 people, though the school district also draws students from the neighboring communities of Bingen, Underwood, Snowden, Husum, and BZ Corners.

Columbia High School has an enrollment of approximately 360 students for the 2014-2015 school year, and is a member of Washington State's 1A sports division, fielding varsity teams in 12 sports each year. The mighty Bruin is our mascot and our school colors are red, white, and black. Columbia High School offers a wide range of classes, including many Career and Technical Education (CTE) and Advanced Placement (AP) classes, allowing students to pursue educational paths closely tied to their future career and college directions. CHS is fully accredited through ESD112 in Vancouver, Washington.

For students needing a different route through high school, there is the White Salmon Academy that offers an opportunity to obtain a Washington State High School Diploma. In addition, CHS provides assistance for those who are not native English speakers. Special needs assistance is also available for students.

With 38 staff members, students receive qualified instruction and support. There are seven National Board Certified teachers and five Christa McAuliffe Award of Excellence recipients on staff. Phi Delta Kappa Washington has recognized Columbia High School as a “School of Distinction” for being one of the 5% highest improving schools in the State of Washington for Reading and Math achievements over the past 5 years. But the awards are secondary to providing motivating and relevant classroom instruction. Students also rely on skilled counselors, aides and other qualified support personnel in navigating successfully in and outside of the classroom.

Students are connected to a staff member through a once-a-week advisory class. Seniors prepare a culminating project that encompasses service, portfolio, research, a product, and a post-secondary plan. Strong career counseling, college prep and guidance ensure students have options after high school.

Sports, and extra-curricular activities and clubs round out options for students, keeping them involved and connected. As a member of SW Washington's Trico League, CHS athletes compete in the following sports: basketball, baseball, cross country, football, soccer, softball, track and field, tennis, wrestling, and volleyball.

Students also have the option to take either classes or participate in clubs and organizations catering to a wide variety of interests. All provide learning opportunities that focus on citizenship, leadership and career building skills: Associated Student Body (ASB), concert choir, concert and jazz band, Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA), FFA, Skills USA, International Club, Knowledge Bowl, Mock Trial, National Honor Society, powerlifting team, yearbook, and others. 

Students also extend their reach beyond the walls of the school and beyond school hours in giving to and working with their communities. Students organize community benefits and food drives and obtain community service hours by working at more than 30 work stations throughout the Columbia Gorge. High school students also reach down, mentor and act as role models through programs such as reading to students at the preschool, Whitson Elementary and Henkle Middle School while assisting with curriculum nights and the HUGS (Help Us Grow Safely) Fair.

Learn more about our school by following the links on the left, or by jumping directly to key information shown in the links below:

Bruin History

Columbia High School has undergone several name changes and a few relocations in the years since it first opened its doors a century ago. 

It started as the White Salmon High School, and its first graduating class was in Spring of 1912. During the summer of 1924, White Salmon and Pleasant View united to form Columbia Union High School. A new school was built where the White Salmon City Park is now located. The first graduation was May 22, 1925 with 17 students graduating.

In 1928, Bingen High School was consolidated with Columbia Union High School. Later, in 1943, White Salmon, Pleasant View, Husum, Gilmer, Ashland and Bristol were combined to make one school district, White Salmon Valley Schools #405. This was the last year for Columbia Union High School. The first class to be graduated from Columbia High School was in 1944 when White Salmon Valley School District #405 and Underwood #17 combined with the established 405-17 designation that currently identifies the district. 

Needing room for expansion Columbia High School moved to its new location at the old rodeo grounds in August of 1970. The Class of 1971, with 67 students, was the first to graduate from the newly constructed facility. The old high school was torn down. All that remains is the gymnasium, which was built in 1938-1939. It is now know as the Park Center and houses the White Salmon District Office with the remainder of the building being used by a local business and the White Salmon police department.


Do you have information to add to this history? Or maybe you have photos of the way CHS (or CUHS) used to be. Feel free to share them by emailing the webmaster.