By the late 1960's the city of Columbia was growing rapidly and the school age population was increasing annually. In 1968, the Columbia Board of Education purchased 42 acres of land located on the southern edge of the city limits to construct a new high school. The name "Rock Bridge" was chosen for the new high school which opened in September 1973 with an enrollment of 583 in grades 10 through 12. A state park which has a natural rock bridge lies two miles south of the school site. The original architectural design for the building won a national award in school design.
Rock Bridge has over 2,000 students enrolled in grades 9-12. Rock Bridge operates on an alternating day, eight- period block schedule of 95-minute periods, with an academic year of 177 days. The more than 100 full and part time Rock Bridge faculty are focused on—and committed to—success for all students.
Columbia is a growing community with a population of 135,154 in central Missouri. The major industries include three institutions of higher education, two major insurance companies, numerous medical and health related facilities and area agricultural endeavors. The school district has grown at a rate of 400-500 students a year for several years. There are four high schools, six middle schools, and eighteen elementary schools.
Early days were exciting for Rock Bridge . Decisions about mascot, school colors, school song and traditions were a challenging and exciting responsibility. A student committee, chaired by Scott Rutter, student council president, constructed a ballot for the school mascot listing Patriots, Turtles, Road Runners, Rebels and Bruins. The student body selected the Bruins. The school colors were determined to be Kelly green and new gold. Sophomore Sam Smith designed the Bruin logo and the official school emblem was painted on the gym floor. The Conrad Stawski’s Humanities class of 1973 created the school crest, displaying the motto, "Omnes Vincent Ursi" or "Bruins Conquer All."
With Wayne Walker as principal and Robert Watkins as assistant, there was a staff of 29 full-time and 10 part time teachers and a student enrollment of 580. Rock Bridge opened with a 7-period day and introduced a novel concept: AUT (Alternating Unassigned Time) and DUT (Daily Unassigned Time) as options for students in lieu of the traditional study hall. Little did Dr. Walker know that the AUT and DUT would set the stage for a unique culture at RBHS that would continue for many years. As quoted from the 73-74 yearbook: "Unassigned time has helped make Rock Bridge individualistic and unique." In 1973, students could be found playing ping-pong, studying, or playing guitars during their AUT or DUT. Dr. Walker and his staff believed in the philosophy of freedom with responsibility and in trusting students to learn to manage their own time.
The building opened in 1973 with the completion of its first phase, which included the main offices, cafeteria, gym, planetarium, and the east wing with 18 classrooms. This facility was designed to accommodate 600 students. Bond issues passed in1974, 1975, and 1976 allocated funds to expand the school to accommodate an additional 450 students. With the addition of the west wing in 1978, another 20 classrooms were added. In the fall of 1992, the new Performing Arts Center with a stage, 500-seat auditorium and 2 classrooms opened. As the Twentieth Century came to a close, planning and construction began for the school's largest addition. This construction provided for 39 additional classrooms, a large media center, an expansion of the administrative offices and additional performing arts facilities.
The impact of parents in RBHS history has been tremendous. The Bruin Athletic Booster Club was instrumental in the construction of a football field and track with lights, spectator stands, press box, and concession stand. The entire project, funded and constructed by parents, students and private community sponsors, opened in the fall of 1979. In 1992, a $150,000 baseball/softball complex, funded by the Bruin Athletic Booster Club and with the help of hundreds of hours donated by parents, gave Rock Bridge its first home field. In 2002, an all-weather track and hardwood basketball gym floor were installed. These renovations were privately funded and commercially installed.
There is no "Homecoming", but rather a Harvest Court with Kim Morgan crowned as queen. The football team is 6-3. The boys basketball team wins conference and has an 18-3 record. The girls basketball team, which has no seniors, goes 0-11. Rock Bridge has two state finalists in track and the girls swim team beats Hickman 87-85. Thanks to Mrs. Ford, there are assemblies in the gym every week or two. Although the band has no uniforms, the "Marching Munchkins" are a high-spirited group. "Li'l Abner" is the first school musical.
Rock Bridge boasts 7 National Merit Scholars. The football team is 9-0 in regular season play, and the boys basketball team takes 4 th in state. The tradition of Homecoming with float building, a parade and a Homecoming Queen begins. The musical is "Guys and Dolls."
The football team wins the state championship under Coach Rich Davies. The wrestling team captures third in state, and the boys track team places 3 rd in state. Girls tennis wins its conference and boys basketball wins conference and regionals. RB has 5 National Merit Scholars and the school musical is "Annie, Get Your Gun."
Instrumental music awards are impressive as the Concert Band receives a 1 rating at District Contest, Outstanding soloist award, 1 rating for 27 soloists and small ensemble performers at district, 16 soloists and ensembles go on to receive 1 ratings at state. Three music scholarships are awarded to seniors to go to UMC. The basketball team advances to state. The school musicals are "You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown," and "Arsenic And Old Lace."
There are 17 National Merit Scholars. New head football coach John Henage leads the Bruins to the AAA State Championship for their second state title in 5 years. The boys basketball team places 3 rd in state, and the boys golf team finishes 2 nd in state. DECA has 5 District winners, one state winner and one national winner. The musicals this year are "Man of LaMancha" and "Bye, Bye, Birdie."
The boys' golf team wins state, and the girls track team captures 3 rd in state. The school musicals are "West Side Story" and "The Music Man."
Rock Bridge football plays its first game on the new home football field. Dr. Walker: "One of the best examples of community support is the new stadium, conceived, financed and constructed through the efforts of the Bruin Booster Club." Baseball advances to the state semi-finals. RB pole-vaulter Johnny Fewell sets the state record at 16'. Band has 10 students selected to All-District and four to All-State. Speech and Drama has three state finalists. The school musicals are "Pippin" and "Brigadoon."
The football team goes undefeated in conference play and advances on to the state playoffs. RBHS takes 2 nd in state in Storytelling. The school musicals are "Camelot" and "Little Mary Sunshine."
Boys soccer begins in 1981 and has an impressive 10-2-2 season. In the first ever football contest between RBHS and HHS, the Bruins win 7-0. The volleyball team goes undefeated in regular season play. The cheerleaders add men to the squad, and the Ambassadors, a student group to acquaint new students to RB, begin. DECA has three national champions. The enrollment is 858. The school musicals are "Celebration" and "Grease."
Rock Bridge celebrates its 10-year anniversary with the theme: "The First Decade - Excellence Becoming Tradition." The girls' tennis team takes first in state, and the girls' golf team captures 2 nd in state. The influence of technology is noted, "12% of the students of the students use a computer - up from 9% last year." There are now two computer classes. The school musicals are " Oklahoma " and "Oliver."
The girls' tennis team wins the state championship, again! Girls golf takes 2 nd in state and golfer Barb Blancher wins the state individual title. The baseball team wins the district tournament and cross-country is district champs. The school musical is "The Roar of the Greasepaint and the Smell of the Crowd."
RBHS Student Council is President of the Missouri Association of Student Councils and, therefore, hosts the state convention with 1000 students from throughout the state. Mrs. Ford, sponsor, coordinates this event with help from student chairs Blake Bolick, Beth Schlemper, and Leslie Gilmore. The girls tennis team takes first in state for the third consecutive year and boys soccer team wins districts for the first time. Dr. Walker wears a Mohawk in Capers.
The girls basketball team breaks the 20-win mark for the first time with a record of 22-5. Girls tennis wins second in state. The school play is "The Fantasktiks." A group of seniors removes blackboard erasers from classrooms and then drapes them over the power lines in the courtyard as an end-of-the-year prank.
The RBHS band takes top honors at the Greater St. Louis Festival: Outstanding Percussion, Drum Major and Soloists awards. The Children's Theatre and Puppetry class, taught by Terry Overfelt, presents "Home on the Range" in the wrestling room. The members of the football team sport Mohawks for homecoming.
RBHS is named "one of the Nation's Outstanding Schools." In its first year, Show Choir begins with a bang and a lot of hard work. "We practiced 2-5 hours on Sunday and 2 hours after school." The boys soccer team advances it to state semi-finals. Said Coach Lewis: "The team was noted for enthusiasm and spark." The school musical is "1940's Radio Hour."
This is the first year for girls soccer. Boys golf takes 2 nd in state, and the girls tennis team captures 2 nd in state. The boys basketball team is conference champs. Student Council sponsors a "King's Court," the male version of Homecoming royalty. The literary magazine is entitled "Echoes at the Bridge." The school musical is "Damn Yankees."
The lunar space station under the direction of Pat Daughtery is one of 20 similar space stations throughout the US and the only one in the state of Missouri . The Choir goes to New York City . Seven wrestlers advance to state. Sophomores are not allowed to drive to school because of the crowded parking. Parking permits cost $1.00.
This is the first year for softball. The football team advances to the state semi-finals, and the boys basketball team goes to the final four in state. There are 255 seniors in the graduating class. The school musical was "Bye, bye, Birdie."
The yearbook is dedicated to retiring Dr. Walker, the first principal. "Where's Wayne ?" is its theme. Assistant Principal Jim King steps into the role of principal. The school musical is "Anything Goes."
The Performing Arts Center opens in the fall with the musical "Brigadoon." This is the first year for the Global Village, an all-school multicultural extravaganza organized by 6 teachers and 10 students. The senior Homecoming float is a little red wagon pulled by Mr. Bob Bailey on his go-cart. The football team takes 2 nd in state. There are 221 seniors in the graduating class.
The football team takes 2 nd in state (for the 2 nd consecutive year). The boys golf team wins the state championship and adds its banner to the gym wall. The school musical is "Grease." The enrollment is 925 students.
RBHS moves to an alternating block schedule. Graduation moves from the RBHS gym to MU Hearnes Center . The football team moves into the largest school category, 5A, and wins conference. The band sweeps all categories at the Greater St. Louis Band Festival. The volleyball team has its best record ever: 21-3-1. The school musical is "Joseph's Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat." There are 990 students and 261 seniors.
For the first time, the enrollment exceeds 1000. There are 1014 students enrolled and 285 in the graduating class. Block schedule modifies to include four 95-minute periods with a 7-minute passing period. The basketball team goes 26-3 and won sectionals. This is the first year of the Academic Team. The schools musical are "Dames at Sea" and " Big River ."
Boys golf brings home the state title, and boys basketball captures 3 rd in state. Girls tennis places 2 nd at state. Wrestler Andy McVey is the state champion in his weight category. The Homecoming theme is "Welcome to the Jungle." Community service is emphasizes throughout the school. The school musical is "Man of La Mancha."
In celebration of the 25 th anniversary of RBHS, Principal Jim King jumps out of a giant birthday cake at the Homecoming Assembly. The PTSA purchases a large appliquéd banner displaying the school crest to be displayed at graduation. There are 1072 students and graduates topped 300 for the first time. Dr. Jim King, the second principal in RBHS history, retires.
Dr. Brotzman becomes the third principal of RBHS. The band placed in every competition they entered. The new addition to RBHS causes parking problems, crowded hallways, temporary classrooms and much excitement about a new building.
Rock Bridge Reaches Out, the all-school volunteer program, is initiated by Student Council President David Wax. Wax also incorporates Cultural Arts Fridays as a lunchtime performance opportunity for students. The girls tennis takes 1 st in state and baseball team is district champs. School enrollment is 1091.
The new building opens! This major addition nearly doubles the space at RBHS. It features a new media center, science classrooms, foreign language lab, administrative offices, band and vocal rooms. Coach Dan Devine returns to coach Bruin football for one year. Devine, incognito, makes a surprise appearance at the Homecoming Assembly. The boys soccer team, led by first year coach David Graham, wins districts. The girls tennis team takes 2 nd in state and James King is the first RB swimmer to place at state. Girls soccer is 1 st in conference and 1 st in district.
Rapidly growing, RBHS has 1362 students and 350 seniors. The school musical is " 42 nd Street ." Students rally to show patriotism and support of the firefighters in the September 11 tragedy in New York City . The girls tennis team takes 2 nd in state (again), and the boys tennis team also wins 2 nd in state.
Rock Bridge has over 1700 students enrolled in grades 10-12. Rock Bridge operates on an alternating day, eight- period block schedule of 95-minute periods, with an academic year of 177 days. The more than 100 full and part time Rock Bridge faculty are focused on—and committed to—success for all students.
Rock Bridge High School
Rock Bridge High School Song
Hail to the Rock Bridge Bruins!
Our team is brave and bold!
Hail to our stalwart heroes
Under the green and gold.
Go, Rock Bridge!
Proudly we pledge allegiance.
Loyal we’ll ever be.
Faithful sons of Rock Bridge High
Fighting for victory.
Rock Bridge high
Rock Bridge low
Rock Bridge rocks
Wherever they go!
Rock, Rock, Bridge, Bridge