Photo of mystery school stumps longtime residents

By KYRA LOW, The Mirror

There’s a mystery brewing in Federal Way.

A photo surfaced in fall 2006 — an old photograph, hand dated 1946, tucked in between some old yearbooks at the library at Federal Way High School.

The photo features a few dozen school-age kids in front of a large building, presumably the school. The name at the bottom reads Donald Mecham, a graduate of Federal Way High.

The problem? No one recognizes the building.

When the photo was sent to school district spokeswoman Deb Stenberg this summer, she showed it to members of the district and the Historical Society of Federal Way, but no one recognized it.

Stenberg then tracked down Mecham’s widow, who was living north of Seattle at the time, and found that as far as she knew, her husband had gone to school in the Edgewood school district as well as in Federal Way.

Stenberg then checked with the Fife School District, which would cover the Edgewood area, but had no success.

According to the historical society, the only school from 1926 through 1951 as big as the one in the photo was Federal Way High School, and this school in the photo is most definitely not Federal Way High.

That may have been the end of it.

However, a new twist came into play when the sister-in-law of Karen Saunders, office manager for the school district, recognized the school as a Federal Way middle school she attended — one that was near the present location of The Crossings shopping center at 348th Street and Pacific Highway.

The historical society has no records of any school in that vicinity; however, there was a school on 359th Street and 16th Ave. S. This school bears no resemblance to the one in the photo.

For now, the mystery continues.

Contact Kyra Low: or (253) 925-5565.


Got a clue?

Anyone with information on the mystery school should call the Historical Society of Federal Way at (253) 945-7842 or e-mail

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