The area northeast of Seattle was part of the Shoreline School District until 1954. For a number of years that area had only one secondary school, Jane Addams. Steady population growth during the 1950s prompted a need for a new high school. In the planning stage, the school was given the temporary name of Northeast High School. This was later changed to Meadowbrook High School. The site for the new school, originally part of the Fisher Dairy, had most recently been the Meadowbrook Golf Course owned by the Tachell family. While the school was under construction, new guidelines and procedures for the naming of schools were adopted. As a result, Meadowbrook was replaced by Nathan Hale, named after the Continental Army soldier. Once built, the factory model school building and parking lot were positioned on either side of Thornton Creek, which runs west to east through the property. The site is directly across the street from what is currently Jane Addams Middle School. Nathan Hale High School was one of several schools for which the Seattle Parks Department paid a portion of the building construction in exchange for title to adjacent land to be used for recreational facilities. The first principal, Claude Turner, helped design the school. In its first year, Hale opened to sophomores and juniors only, with only 1,206 students. Two years later, it had a student body of 2,002. By the late 1960s, Hale’s enrollment had reached 2,400, and 24 portables were in use.
A new learning resource center opened in fall 1972, nearly doubling the size of the school’s original library. The community chose to use bond money for the learning resource center, rather than for an auditorium, so the high school continued to use the Jane Addams Middle School auditorium for its dramatic productions. From 1964 through the mid-1970s, Nathan Hale was a sports powerhouse, winning the Metro championships in several sports three out of four years in a row. The music department also excelled, with the stage band capturing numerous regional awards. The district’s 1978 desegregation plan cut the number of schools feeding Hale from ten to four. Some of these feeder schools were closed, drastically cutting into Hale’s enrollment, despite the addition of 9th graders in September 1979. Some students who would have attended Hale were sent to south end schools.Claude Turner, 1963–1970
Gordon Albright, 1971–1974
Robert Bell, 1975–1983
Barbara Arnold, 1984–1986
Andres Tangalin, 1987–1989
Tom Lord, 1989–1992
Eric Benson, 1992–2003
Judy Peterson, 2003–2004
Lisa Hechtman, 2004–2007
Martini Campbell, 2007–2009
Dr. Jill Hudson, 2009–present
As of April 23, 2015, all 280 juniors at Nathan Hale boycotted the Smarter Balanced state tests. Taking these tests was not a graduation requirement for the junior class, but would be for the sophomore class. Many of teachers, parents, and administrators previously questioned the worthiness of the new state testing requirements.
Nathan Hale's journalism class, headed by Ted Lockery, writes for the Sentinel, Nathan Hale's official newspaper and website.
Nathan Hale is home to the nationally acclaimed radio station KNHC. It is mostly student-run, but has a full-time DJ. KNHC plays dance music, and is one of six stations monitored by Nielsen BDS for inclusion in Billboard Magazine's weekly Hot Dance Airplay chart. In addition, Nathan Hale boasts a Radio class taught by Simon Thwaits and Richard J. Dalton.
Nathan Hale is a member of the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association (WIAA). The school is currently in the second largest classification, known as 3A, and has been so since the 1984-85 school year. Prior to that it was in the largest classification. The Raiders are a member of the Metro League and Sea-King District. Hale has traditionally been a rival to Ingraham High School and Roosevelt High School due to the close proximity of the three schools, but the rivalry with Roosevelt diminished when the school changed classifications in 1997. In 2014 the rivalry with Roosevelt was rekindled by Roosevelt's return to the Metro League.
The school supports 16 WIAA activities, including: baseball, boys and girls basketball, cheer, cross country, football, golf, gymnastics, boys and girls soccer, softball, coed swimming, tennis, track and field, volleyball, and wrestling. Three non-WIAA sanctioned sports are also fielded: boys lacrosse, girls lacrosse, and ultimate. The boys lacrosse team was founded in 1992, making Hale the first public high school in Seattle to have a field lacrosse team.
In 2016, former NBA star Brandon Roy was hired as the head basketball coach and top recruit Michael Porter Jr., as well as his brothers Jontay Porter and Coban Porter, transferred to the school when their father, Michael Porter Sr., became the assistant coach at the University of Washington. This led to the school becoming nationally relevant, including a national #1 ranking on maxpreps.com.
Nathan Hale has won four team state championships.
† = Boys gymnastics in now a defunct sportLynn Colella - U.S. Olympic swimmer and silver medalist
Rick Colella - Two-time U.S. Olympic swimmer and bronze medalist
Paul Dade - Former Major League Baseball player
Rick Fehr - Former PGA Tour golfer
Jordan Malloch - Two-time U.S. Olympic sprint canoer
Bill Roe - Former president of USA Track and Field
Brian Schmetzer - Head coach of the Seattle Sounders FC
Ed Simmons - Former tackle for the Washington Redskins. Simmons played 11 seasons for the Redskins, winning two Super Bowls. Named one of the 70 greatest Redskins of all time.
Luke Burbank - Host of the podcast TBTL and radio show Ross & Burbank
Walt Crowley - Local historian and co-creator of the website HistoryLink.org
Ben Haggerty, better known as Macklemore - Hip-Hop artist
Casey Sander - Actor, played Wade Swoboda in all five seasons of Grace Under Fire
Sol - Hip Hop artist
Hari Sreenivasan - PBS NewsHour anchor