Hillyard began as a working men’s railroad town with a rough-and-tumble reputation. But families quickly followed and the addition of women and children softened the image of the town. Schools provide the mark of a civilized society, and more than a few have called Hillyard home.
The first school to serve the Hillyard community, Arlington Elementary School, opened in 1896. Arlington sat on the corner of Everett and Regal and had nine rooms. In 1926 the school merged with a smaller primary school, and both moved into the new and larger building on the corner of Francis and Smith. Hillyard’s growing population pushed the school district to enlarge the school in 1950, and in 1955. In 1980, School District #81 built the most recent rendition of Arlington School on the same property.
In 1901 Columbia Elementary School opened close to Hillyard’s rail shops to serve grades one through four. Attendance quickly grew and a large brick addition was added. By 1945 the school served 162 students in grades one through eight. In 1949 the school saw more changes including a paved play area and two war-surplus portable classrooms purchased from Fairchild. By 1980 enrollment decreased due to the new middle school and the building was deemed surplus.
What eventually became Regal Elementary opened in 1907 as “Hillyard High” and housed grades one through twelve. The building located at 2707 E Rich also served as the district office for Hillyard School District #122. The second level of the school was reserved for high-schoolers and their three teachers, whereas the first and basement floors housed all of the younger grades and the district office. By 1913 the new Hillyard High School was completed at the corner of Everett and Regal, taking the older students and the district offices out of the original building. In 1915 the name officially changed to “South Regal,” but by 1924 when the township of Hillyard voted to become a part of the City of Spokane they dropped the “South” and the school took the name that exists today. They stayed in the old building until 1981. Regal’s new building came during an era of modernization in SD #81, with various schools receiving new buildings that are still in use today.
Today, Hillyard residents continue to utilize Arlington and Regal Elementary schools, Gary Middle School, and Rogers High School. Though the population has shrunk from the height of the Hillyard rail yards, the region continues to benefit from exceptional public facilities.