North Yakima High School (which was renamed Davis High School in 1957 when Eisenhower High School became the second senior high school in Yakima) began classes in 1884, and was housed in the Columbia Building. By 1896, the school's enrollment reached 40 students and classes were relocated to the Central School Building. With an ever-increasing student body, in 1900, the school was once-again relocated to the Lincoln School. In 1905, land was procured on South 7th Avenue and Walnut, with plans to build a new, larger high school. As it turned out, that foresight was well thought out, because after the Lincoln School burned on Jan. 6, 1907, the high school took up temporary residence at the Methodist Church on Fourth Street.
The new school building, which began construction in 1905, was completed in 1908. The new building cost $84,980, had 23 classrooms and increased capacity to 690 students. Angus Charles Davis served as principal from 1908 through 1913, and was superintendent until 1947. In 1978, after an extensive, thirteen-year remodeling project, which cost upwards of $5 million, the Yakima High School was re-dedicated as Davis High School, in honor of its early principal and long-time superintendent.
One of the keynote speakers at the school's re-dedication was Cathy Douglas Stone, wife of U.S. Supreme Court Justice, William O. Douglas who is, perhaps, Davis's most notable alumnus. Douglas, who played on the basketball team and was valedictorian of his graduating class, went on to teach English at North Yakima High School before pursuing his dream of being a lawyer and, ultimately, a United States Supreme Court judge.
In May 2009, a $114 million bond was approved by Yakima voters to remodel and renovate area schools. Davis was allocated $42 million of that bond money (plus another $42 million in State-matching funds), to refurbish the school.
Angus Charles Davis (1908-1913)
Frances Wesley Jones
Forest J. Dollinger (1913–1914, 1916–1918)
Arthur Church (Last Principal of Yakima High School)
Donald Davidson (First Principal of A.C. Davis High School, 1957
Dr. Warren Dean Starr
Dr. Raymond Lindley (1974-1977)
Robert Alexander (1977-1981)
Owen Hurst (1981-1985)
Dr. Robert McLaughlin (1985-1993))
Karen Garrison (1993-2000) - First Female Principal
Jose Vidot (2000-2002)
Lee Maras (2002–2007)
Ben Ramirez (2007-2013)
Ryan McDaniel (2013-present)
Davis is the only school in the Yakima Valley to offer the prestigious International Baccalaureate Diploma Program for high school juniors and seniors. The program is nationally and internationally recognized by both secondary schools and universities such as Oxford and Harvard. It is generally considered by universities to exceed the rigor of the College Board Advanced Placement (AP) Program in secondary schools. Every year over one hundred students participate in the International Baccalaureate program at the school. The most involved students take 6 to 7 IB classes their junior and senior years to earn the IB diploma, strengthen their educational background, and earn college credit. However, students can take any number of IB classes related to their educational and personal interests. IB course offerings include: Music, Art, Physics, Chemistry, Biology, Mathematical Methods, Mathematical Studies, History of the Americas, Spanish B (for non-native speakers), Spanish A (for native speakers), French B (non-native speakers), Theory of Knowledge, and English A (for native speakers). Each of these courses lasts for 2 years with the exceptions of Theory of knowledge (2 trimesters) and Physics (1 year).
The program is highly successful at educating bright and enthusiastic students who want to make a difference in their schools, communities, and nation. Davis IB alumni have a very strong track record of gaining admission to and experiencing success upon matriculation to the most nationally prestigious colleges and universities. A plurality of IB students opt to attend the University of Washington, the most academically selective public university in the state, which ranks Davis 19th out of 231 private and public Washington high schools. Every year some students go further afield to attend top-ranked institutions including Ivy League and Stanford Universities. Study abroad and foreign exchange programs are also popular options for graduating seniors.
Students who opt not to participate in the IB program have a myriad of other educational opportunities and career paths. Davis students often participate in the Running Start program at Yakima Valley Community College to earn their high school diploma as well as their Associate's degree prior to graduation. The ESL (English as a Second Language) program assists Spanish speaking students adjust to an English learning environment.
Library programs are considered some of Davis' greatest assets. Students and teachers provide general tutoring in a variety of subjects and SAT preparation. Several computer labs with internet access are provided to Davis students and to the public. The library stays open late during school nights to make internet access and federally funded tutoring services available to students who may or may not have these resources in their home.
Davis competes athletically against the largest schools in the state by enrollment as a member of the 4A Division of the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association (WIAA) and the Columbia Basin "Big Nine" Athletic Conference. The school supports several interscholastic sports, including: baseball, basketball, bowling, cross-country, cheer, fastpitch softball, football, golf, soccer, swimming and diving, tennis, track, volleyball and wrestling. The Davis Pirates have a long-standing rivalry with cross-town high school, D.D. Eisenhower High (more familiarly known as "Ike"). In 2012, the Davis boys' basketball team won the state 4A basketball championship - the first since 1965.The only wrestling team to go undefeated was in 1972, won the State Championship and was rated very high in the Nation.
Currently, there are approximately 36 academic and recreational student clubs at Davis, including MeChA, Knowledge Bowl, FBLA and Lolomi (student yearbook). The yearbook has been called the Lolomi since 1921, but before that was called many different names, including Papoose, Quietus, Potlatch, and Wigwam. These yearbooks are available for viewing at the Yakima Valley Regional Library.
Davis offers music programs in the areas of choir, orchestra, and band. The school offers jazz choir, chamber choir, two orchestra ensembles, jazz band, wind ensemble, concert band, and a percussion ensemble.
The Davis band and orchestra first came about in 1927 under Avery Olson. The band began with about 20 students, but since then has grown to over 100. Each autumn, the A.C. Davis Buccaneer Marching Band prepares a marching show and performs at home football games, as well as local competitions, such as Cavalcade of Bands in Tri-Cities, Washington, and Puget Sound Marching Festival in Everett, Washington. Davis and Eisenhower High School marching bands co-host the Harvest Marching Festival in Yakima, Washington. In the spring, Davis hosts a band contest as well as a choir contest for bands and choirs around the region. A.C. Davis's concert ensembles regularly receive superior ratings at these contests for their excellence.
Students have been consistently honored as solo musicians as well. At the Washington State Solo and Ensemble competition, Davis High School sends several students to the state level each year in both instrumental and vocal music performance. The Davis percussion ensemble is currently one of the top-ranking musical groups in the state.
The Davis drumline has performed a student-written half-time shows at basketball games for two years and has done clinics with the Blue Man Group as well as received high rankings at marching band and solo and ensemble competitions.
During the 1940s and 1950s, the orchestral and band director was William Herbst, and the choral director, during this same time period, was Mildred Forsling.Oleta Adams, internationally acclaimed singer and performer.
Jamie Allen, former MLB baseball third baseman (Seattle Mariners).
Raymond Carver, American author.
Don Crow, former MLB baseball catcher (Los Angeles Dodgers).
William O. Douglas, Supreme Court Justice; a plaque commemorating the fountain and courtyard at Davis High School in his name was dedicated in 1980 by the Class of 1968 and a statue of Douglas was erected in the courtyard in 2005 in his memory.
Joe Hipp, former professional heavyweight boxer.
Cooper Kupp, college football receiver
Mel Stottlemyre, Jr., former MLB baseball pitcher (Kansas City Royals).
Todd Stottlemyre, former MLB baseball pitcher (Toronto Blue Jays, Oakland Athletics, St. Louis Cardinals, Texas Rangers, Arizona Diamondbacks).
Taylor Stubblefield, former college football player; set NCAA career receptions mark (325) while at Purdue University.
Willie Turner, sprinter
Jordan Fry, American actor best known as Mike Teavee on Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.