Bomber Mascot Crisis
Issue # 16 ~ 08/11/01
Editor's Note:

Three documents, and a link to a fourth, follow today's
    i) the Memorandum from Supt Semler to the Board
describing the agenda item.
   ii) the Memo from Principal Neill to Supt Semler and
the Board concerning the "Installation of bomb in
gymnasium foyer".
  iii) a form letter from Supt Semler acknowledging
receipt of a letter (in this case from Janine Rightmire
Corrado) concerning the subject of the nickname/mascot.
   iv) a link to the scanned image of the "Offer and
Acceptance" form submitted by Roy Ballard.

Richard Anderson (60) -- Editor, Mascot Crisis
Today's comments submitted by:

Ken Ely (49), Dena Evans (64WB)
Kathleen Ryals (77), Charles Ballard (91)
>>From: Ken Ely (49)

The alumni have little to say about the future of the
school mascot and/or the name of the school's athletic
teams.  If the current student body wants to change the
name from Bombers to a flower, color, or animal, it is
their prerogative.  Don't forget, that's what we did in
1945.  We didn't give a hoot about the alumni or current
older students.  We just changed Beavers to Bombers and
if the current students want to do that, we cannot stop
them.  We have been Bombers for 56 years but they may not
want to live in the past and the name and mascot may mean
nothing to them.  We will always be Bombers even then.
The name of the school was even changed from Richland
High to Columbia High and then back to Richland High.
Did the former students complain?  I don't know but I do
know we may have to accept the change if the current
students want that change.  The first step will be the
Board denying to accept the "gift" of the Bomb so if that
happens, expect the name change to follow.

-Ken Ely (49) -- Orangevale, CA -- Beaver and Bomber
>>From: Dena Evans (64WB)

After reading yesterday's submissions, I could hardly
wait to see the responses made in today's.  I was not at
all surprised with what was said.  I lived in Richland
for about four years, but I have to let you know that I
had more pride in being a Columbia High Bomber than being
associated with any other school that I attended.  Even
though the thoughts have been varied, the one thing that
I have found in the alumni from Richland is that they all
have an emotional tie to their school's heritage.  This
is wonderful!  I have never heard of any other school
that has been so dedicated to the history of its city or
its industry.  (Even though many may think that we should
not be.)

There was reference made to Chief Joseph -- The Peaceful
Chief.  History has told us that he moved his people as
far away as Canada to keep them safe from harm.   I just
realized that Richland had taken the role as a PEACE
KEEPER.  Chief Joseph and the Bomb; they both did what
was best for their people.

To: Judy Willox Hodge (61)
YOU DIDN'T fail me!!!  LOL!

-Dena Evans (64WB)
>>From: Kathleen Ryals (77)

A brief thank you to all who took the time to read my
comments and to respond so emotionally.  I am happy to
concede that dropping the bomb on countless innocent
civilians was probably not the MOST heinous act in our
world's history.  I guess it was my own emotional
reaction to the blind loyalty of "bomber" proponents that
led me to make such an assertion.  I didn't understand
the response which assumed that I thought Pearl Harbor
was okay and that we shouldn't have responded?  Huh?
Silly me, but I want a world where no one is dropping
bombs on anyone and our scientific community is spending
its time curing cancer, AIDS, etc. -- not perfecting
instruments of nuclear (or any other form of) warfare.

I meant to convey that I do have an historical
understanding of why we did what we did.  I also don't
think we need to glorify it further by paying homage to a
bomb or a mushroom cloud.  My ties to the Richland
community aren't because of the "bomb" and I don't think
that is what binds the community that still lives there
(one writer suggested I should be grateful for the bomber
legacy as that is what binds us all).  What binds the
people there is what should bind any other group of
people living and working together: mutual respect and
kindness and the hope we pass that legacy and world to
our children.  I'd like to hear a coherent argument
outlining how yelling "nuke 'em" at football games does

-Kathleen Ryals (77)
>>From: Charles Ballard (91)


My name is Charles Ballard, Class of 1991.  In 1990 I was
a junior and was a part of the "democratic process" that
was a couple of assemblies, and then a vote by the
student body over the use of the mushroom cloud as a
symbol of Richland High School.  This was presented to
the students as a representation of what we as adults had
been given with the right to vote.  With the
"assemblies" we were given opposing viewpoints, allowed
to form our opinions of the debate, and then present
those opinions in the form of a vote.  This is yet again
being ignored.  Not that the students shouldn't be given
the right to choose, but it doesn't really seem that the
students are the ones with the problem with it.

As teachers and etc. at a high school, the faculty's job
is to present facts to the students and give them
opportunity to form ideas of their own.  This is not an
open forum for their ideas about a school's symbol.  I
listened to all my teachers' opinions on this matter
while in class; Scott Woodward was my history teacher and
by the time the vote had arrived I had heard quite enough
about the subject.  All I got from it was that the bell
bottoms he wore represented his feeling of a lack of
action in his college years during the protests over the
Vietnam war.

Honestly, I don't care about the symbol itself.  I went
to school for graphic design, and it's a good icon.  But
to be truthful, that is not the issue.  I think of it
along the lines as an issue of respect for those that
have come before.  Students past made a decision to have
it, before my brother Greg and I were there, and not sure
of the history, probably before my mother and father were
there.  I think we should respect that decision and leave
it alone.  There are more important issues out there than

As a final thought.  I remember little of high school, I
was not much of a participant.  What I do remember is the
teachers I respected.  They were the ones who wanted us
to learn without reward; who encouraged us, as students,
to grow.  Sean Murphy, Linda Pfenning, Phil Neill, and
Robin Morris are a few of the names I remember and
respect for their efforts.  The other teachers I had
contact with in my years at Richland High -- a history
teacher, a writing teacher, a psych teacher, and a few
others -- I only remember their egos and opinions.

I think we should lay this to rest.

-Charles Ballard (91)
That's it for today.  Keep the faith?  Nuke 'em?
Send RHS Nickname/Mascot entries to:

Back issues:
Item Number One:

M E M O R A N D U M.
DATE:    August l0, 2001
TO:      Board Members
FROM:    Rich Semler
SUBJECT: Richland High School Bomb Gift
Background: Mr. Roy Ballard, a local citizen, with the
support of a number of alumni, secured a large bomb with
the idea of painting it and donating it to Richland High
School to be displayed in the gym foyer. Unfortunately,
due to some misunderstandings between him and our high
school administration, this gift was not reviewed and
formally accepted by either the principal or the school
board.  Mr. Ballard would like to formally address the
board, seeking your acceptance as well as installation of
this gift. I have included with this package a brief
narrative from Steve Neill, principal at Richland High
School, outlining his perspective on the evolution of
events leading up to the installation of the bomb, as
well as the letter I sent to Mr. Ballard upon its

I would like to clarify that neither the high school
administration nor district office administration have
expressed interest in changes of the high school name nor
emblems. The question before the board at this meeting
will be clear -  Do you wish to accept a de-commissioned 
bomb, approximately 11 feet tall, for installation at
Richland High School?

Enclosed with this packet are copies of our gift policy
and procedures((6114), our request for gift acceptance,
the memorandum from Steve Neill, and two additional
letters recently received at the district.
Item Number Two:
To:   Dr. Rich Semler and School Board Members
From: Steve Neill
Date: 8/6101
Re:   Installation of bomb in gymnasium foyer
In mid-June, Mr. Roy Ballard approached me in a local
coffee shop with the idea of installing a bomb in our
school. At that time I asked him to discuss the concept
with Jim Qualheim, our director of student activities, to
get his as well as student perspective.  I did not
approve the installation, expecting further interaction
later in the year.

On Thursday, June 28th, Mr. Ballard was present in the
office area at Richland High School as I entered from
observing summer school classes.  He said to me that he
needed to speak with Steve Potter.  At that point, Steve
Potter entered and Mr. Ballard started his conversation
with Mr. Potter. I returned to my office and left the
building shortly thereafter as we placed my mother in a
nursing home that morning. During the course of their
conversation, it is my understanding that Mr. Ballard
asked Steve Potter for his keys to the gymnasium and
Steve gave him a set.

On Thursday, July 19th while out of town on vacation, I
learned of the article in the Tri City Herald and called
Dr. Semler. We discussed the events of what had
transpired.  That afternoon, I called Mr. Ballard and
left a message setting up an appointment for July 24th.
During this conference Mr. Ballard stated that he did not
hear me tell him to discuss installing the bomb with Jim
Qualheim and that I knew he "doesn’t speak to Jim

In conclusion, I would like to reiterate that I did not
give permission to Mr. Ballard to install the bomb nor
did Mr. Ballard process this through Jim Qualheim as he
was asked.  In my opinion this would not be an issue
today if he had approached Mr. Qualheim or if Mr. Potter
had communicated with me regarding Mr. Ballard’s request
for the keys.

I certainly regret any misunderstandings that took place
throughout this course of events.  Mr. Ballard has been a
loyal supporter and donated many hours of his time making
Richland High School a better place to learn. However, I
believe the decision to have the bomb be a part of
Richland High School should lie with the School Board,
per board policy.  As we begin the new school year, I
prefer our focus be on improving student learning.
Item Number Three:
615 Snow Avenue Richland, WA 99352 (509)942-2400 FAX(509) 942-2401
August 7, 2001
Ms. Janine Rightmire Corrado
15727 NE 144th Place
WoodinviIle, WA 98072
Dear Ms. Corrado:
Thank you for your recent letter. I thought I might
clarify that neither the school board, myself, nor any
other administrator in the district have discussed
changing any of our school names, mascots, or emblems.

Our booster clubs, PTA’s, and other groups work closely
with the district on purchases, gifts, and installations
to ensure we are working together. Unfortunately, the
situation with the bomb installation was a surprise to
our board, myself, as well as the high school principal
and students. Our school board will determine the
appropriateness of this particular gift as required by
policy. No one has any interest in discussions on
changing the name of the school.

I’ve made this intent clear in my letter to Mr. Ballard
as well as my letter that was printed in the Sandstorm.

(signed by)
Dr. Rich Semler
Item Number Four:

This link will display the Offer and Acceptance form
submitted by Roy Ballard.  This is the actual agenda item
to be considered.