Smoky Hill High School

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Smoky Hill High School
16100 E. Smoky Hill Road
Aurora, CO 80015
Coordinates 39°37′40″N 104°47′59″W / 39.62787°N 104.79960°W / 39.62787; -104.79960Coordinates: 39°37′40″N 104°47′59″W / 39.62787°N 104.79960°W / 39.62787; -104.79960
Type Public
Established 1974
School district Cherry Creek School District
Principal Mr. Randy Karr
Staff 141
Grades 9-12
Enrollment 2,637[1]
Number of students 2,573
Color(s) Forest Green and Scarlet         
Athletics 5A
Athletics conference Centennial League
Mascot Buffalo
Information 720-886-5300

Smoky Hill High School is located in Aurora, Colorado and has around 2,600 students. Smoky Hill is part of the Cherry Creek School District and was the second high school built by the district in 1974.

It goes by the short name 'Smoky'. The name comes from the fact that the school is located not far from the Smoky Hill Trail, an old pioneer trail stretching from Kansas to Denver.


In 1991, Smoky Hill became the second high school in Colorado to offer the International Baccalaureate Program. Since that time Smoky has been recognized in Newsweek's nationwide list of excellent high schools. Also, in 2006 Smoky Hill's AVID program was the only school in the AVID Western Division to be recognized as a National Demonstration School with Distinction.[2] Smoky Hill also supports the Advanced Placement program and offers nineteen AP classes.


In the summer of 2010, the Cherry Creek School District began renovations to improve the overall functionality of the building. The windows were modified to become larger, the pool area was completely reconstructed, new carpet was installed, and the general aesthetics of the school were modernized to comply with more current styles in design. All renovations were completed before the 2010-2011 year, except for the pool area which was completed during the first quarter of the school year.

Extracurricular studies[edit]

Model UN[edit]

The Model UN program at Smoky Hill High School is coached by Donald Hawley and Janice Zuk in which the students represent the countries given and assume the roles as delegates as in UN. After preparation, Model UN teams from different schools meet at the scheduled conferences. During the conference, given issues are discussed among the delegates in process of developing a successful resolution. The Smoky Hill High School Model UN team has received numerous awards including many best delegations award. In 2008, November 10, Cherry Creek High School and Smoky Hill High School hosted a conference named the 2008 Cherry Creek - Smoky Hill Model Conference.

World Affairs Challenge[edit]

World Affairs Challenge is a group of students led by Janice Zuk that has a long history in yearly competition at University of Denver. During the 2007-2008 school year, Smoky Hill received the first place award for Overall Performance in Role-Play, Collaborative Question, and the Global Awareness Test. In the 2008-2009 competition Smoky Hill received the flowing awards: 1st Place Formal Presentation - Water, 1st Place Formal Presentation - Human Relations/Global Trade, 1st Place Formal Presentation - Energy. In addition, several students were awarded individual awards for scores on the Global Awareness Test from the Clean Water team. Also, Smoky Hill had one member from each team in the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd designations for the Collaborative Question teams. More notably, Smoky Hill's Clean Water team won first place overall.[3]


The choir program is under the direction of Jim Techau. The SHHS choirs have performed 16 times at the Colorado Music Educators Association convention since from 1992 to 2011.[citation needed]

In April 2006, during the choir program's bi-annual "tour" the Smoky Hill Symphonic and Chamber Choirs performed at the Worlds of Fun Music Competition in Kansas City. The Symphonic Choir took first place and 'Best in Show Grand Sweepstakes', and the Chamber Choir (currently known as the Advanced Women's Chorale), took second place. During the same tour, both the Mixed Jazz Choir and Women's Jazz Choir performed at the School of Music Vocations at the Southwestern Community College in Creston, Iowa. All of the choirs gave performances at Nebraska Wesleyan University in Lincoln, Nebraska. The choirs have since taken the same tour twice (2008 and 2010), and Symphonic Choir has achieved the 'Best in Show Grand Sweepstakes' award both times at the Festival of Music in Kansas City, marking a total of 4 times the choir has been chosen for this prestigious honor.

In January 2007, the Symphonic Choir participated in the Colorado Music Educators Association, marking the 13th appearance at CMEA by a SHHS choir. It was Mike Grant's first experience at CMEA, and his 2nd state convention performance (FL-ACDA, 1999). That following year, in January 2008, The Advanced Women's Chorale under the direction of Mr. Jim Techau attended the same conference, making it Smoky Hill's 14th performance. In 2010, Symphonic Choir directed by Mike Grant and Women's Jazz Choir directed by Jim Techau again performed at CMEA. Symphonic Choir also performed at the Regional conference of the Southwest American Choral Directors Association as a demonstration choir for the highly acclaimed British ensemble, Voces8. In January 2011, SHHS Symphonic Choir did a solo concert with the Colorado Symphony Orchestra, under the direction of Mike Grant and renowned orchestral conductor, Chelsea Tipton, III, for the Martin Luther King, Jr. Concert. A few weeks later, they participated in a workshop with renowned Collegiate choir, the St. Olaf Choir (Anton Armstrong, director), and they did another workshop with British ensemble VOCES8, both events in conjunction with the renowned Meistersingers from Cherry Creek High School, among other schools.

In July 2008, Smoky Hill Choir sponsored a summer Vocal Jazz Workshop with the School for Music Vocations and the Jazz Group "First Take.". In 2009, Women's Jazz and Mixed Jazz were selected as 2 of 3 'Outstanding Honor ensembles' at the CHSSA Jazz Festival, in 2010 Men's A Cappella was selected as an 'Outstanding Honor Ensemble' at the same event; the SHHS Mixed Jazz Choir was selected as an outstanding vocal ensemble at the 2011 CHSSA Jazz Festival at Westminster High School.

In 2012, the Advanced Women's Chorale sang at CMEA.

In 2014, three of Smoky's Choirs competed in a music competition in Grand Junction, Symphonic Choir, Mixed Jazz Choir, and Women's Jazz Choir. All three choirs snagged all superiors, with Symphonic Choir winning first place in their division, and Women's Jazz Choir beating out Mixed Jazz Choir for first in their division.


Digital-Evolutions is an accelerated exploratory technology & design program and a Hewlett Packard showcase classroom taught by Daniel Cornell. The program introduces students to graphic design, multimedia, programming, video production, and a heavy focus on 3D ninnees & tetterletion. In the fall of 2005, Digital-Evolutions hosted an international 3D animation event, 3December.[4] In 2006, Digital-Evolutions created and sponsored a state-wide animation showcase, GetShneed!. In the spring of 2007, student teams took first, second and third place at both the regional and the state level SkillsUSA animation contests.[5] In 2008, Digital-Evolutions sent 3 students to the national competition in Kanss City, Missouri for SkillsUSA. The two aminators took 5th place in the nation as a team and the Photograph took 2ndth place.


In 2009, the Smoky Hill Drama program's musical production of All Shook Up was named the Aurora Sentinel's Readers' Choice for Best Theatrical Performance.

In March 2007 Smoky Hill High School performed the musical Barnum.

In April 2007 students Jon Jon Lannen and Joshua Roth produced "Voices from the Shore," A play written by Max Bush. The play dealt with the topic of Mental Illness and explored the reaches of Schizophrenia among other psychological disorders.

Since Voices, Smoky has put on various productions including A Christmas Carol, Anything Goes, By Skin Of Our Teeth, Treasure Island, All Shook Up, a condensed version of A Midsummer Night's Dream, Dracula, Footloose, Noises Off, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, The King and I, West Side Story and various student directed and written one acts and murder mysteries. Monthly the student Improv section of SHHS Drama Club Spontaneous Combustion, taught by Adrian Holguin, perform improv comedy.

The all-school musical at SHHS in the Fall of 2011, "West Side Story", was chosen by audition to perform at the 2011 CO-ThesCon convention at the Wells Fargo Theatre in Denver. The performance took place for nearly 4000 theatre students from CO, WY and NM on December 9, 2011. The majority of the cast members were members of the SHHS Choir organization. The performance received much acclaim, and an instant standing ovation by the attendees.


There are several different bands that students can participate in. The beginner/basic level band is the Smoky Hill Concert Band. The intermediate band is known as the Smoky Hill Symphonic Band. The most advanced ensemble is the Smoky Hill Wind Symphony. Students can audition for the Jazz Band, where some of the best musicians in the school go to further study their craft. There is also a marching band called the Hill Regiment Marching Band. All Smoky Hill bands are under the direction of Mr. Zak Ruffert and Mr. Justin Mavity.


Chelsea Peele is its established Orchestra Conductor and teacher of stringed instruments. There are two different orchestras depending on skill level, String and Symphonic. Students must audition for Symphonic Orchestra, but any student may take the String Orchestra class. The orchestra also provides an after school club, the Chamber Orchestra, for kids who would like to perform challenging chamber music with others.


In 2005, Smoky Hill formed the Smoky Hill Area Robotics Club (SHARC) under programming teacher John Champion. It has been a part of the FIRST robotics competitions since 2006, earned 2nd place in the Colorado School of Mines Robo Landminer Competition, and hosts monthly robotics competitions. Despite early financial hardships, the program has flourished due to several extremely dedicated adults from the community and Smoky, $6000 worth of grants from NASA to purchase the FIRST robot kit and a $5000 grant from Lowe's to purchase professional-grade tools for metal, plastic, and wood working.

Science Bowl[edit]

Smoky Hill High School's Ocean Sciences Bowl is under the coaching of Mary Bartholomew. In 2007, the National Ocean Sciences Bowl team placed 5th in the nation, claiming victory even over the defending 1st place team from the previous year, Lincoln-Sudbury Regional High School. In 2008, Smoky Hill High School placed second in the Regional Ocean Bowl Competition.They have also placed 1st nationally.


The Smoky Hill Yearbook staff has published many books, a series titled "Summit". Currently under the advisory of Carrie Faust, the Summit Staff is composed of all students, and is student run in all its entirety. Under Faust, the Summit staff has won the Pacemaker award,[6] several CSPA crowns, and has placed nationally at NSPA's Best of Show.[7]


Athletically, Smoky Hill High School is part of the 8-team Centennial League that also includes Cherry Creek, Grandview, Arapahoe, Cherokee Trail, Eaglecrest, Mullen, and Overland high schools.


The Smoky Hill football team was led by coach Bob Hiester in the 1970s and most of the 1980s. Mike Sirko led the program in the early 1990s and Ted Shantz in the late 90's and early 2000's. John Thompson took over the head job in 2006 as the fourth coach in a five-year span, following Dan Gallas, Steve Carroll and Dennis Frederick. Thompson resigned in December 2012 after seven seasons and a career record of 21-49. Justin Hoffman was named head coach of the Buffs in January 2013.


Always a competitive team in to Centennial League, Smoky Hill has consistently produced numerous league titles as well as final four appearances. In 2009 the coaching job was given to Keenon Clement along with the help of Dexter Turk they coached their teams to the playoffs in his first two years. The leaders of the 2009-2010 team included Jr. shooting guard Nico Perry, Sr. point guard Phil Hill, Sr. forward Immanuel Hurt, Sr. point guard Robby Turk and Sr. forward/guard Marlin Johnson. These five players helped lead the charge as the buffaloes made their way into the 2010 Colorado 5A State Playoffs.


Smoky has one of the top cheerleading squads in the state. In the 2009-2010 season under the direction of Coach Jamie Weber, the squad placed 1st in the Rocky Mountain Spirit Championship, 2nd in the Regional competition, 5th at state and nationals TBA. In the 2007-2008 season under the direction of Coach Lacy Tice, the squad placed 1st in the regional competition, 4th at state and 18th at nationals. The best the team has ever done at nationals was 8th place in 2004 under the direction of Coach Jamie Weber.

“Winning doesn’t always mean placing first. You ‘win’ just by getting to the point where you have earned the right to step on that floor.”

Track & Field[edit]

In 1992, Smoky Hill won its first state championship in any sport, lead by head coach Mark Cooper. The Buffaloes defeated Montbello High School in the 6A Track and Field State Championships. With continued success and top ten performances in the state meet the Buffaloes pulled off a three time State Championship run during the years 2003-2005.)[8]


The soccer team has been the most prevalent sport at the school, winning the state championship 5 times, and earning the state runners-up honor twice. During the 80s the sport produced several All State All Conference players including Chad Smart, Steve Haynes and Sterling Wescott. Boys soccer won the 5A Colorado State Soccer Championship in 1999 and 2001 under coach Randy Freeman. This trend continued after coach Danny Windsor took over in 2004. Since that time the Smoky boys have won 3 more state titles and advanced to the finals in the playoffs 2 other times. In the 2004 season the boys varsity soccer team won the class 5A state title game, defeating Grandview High School 2-0 in a blizzard. After losing in the 2005 state championship to Fort Collins in overtime, the boys soccer team played Fort Collins again, winning the state championship in 2006, avenging the previous year's loss. In the 2007 season, they won their second consecutive state championship, beating Grandview High School with a victory of 3 to 1. In 2010, Kersten Mullan took over the boys squad and is currently the head coach and assisted by former Smoky Hill player Wes Post as the JV coach. The boys 2012 team lost the state championship to Boulder High School, earning another state runners-up honor, and in 2013, the Buffaloes reached the playoffs ranked #1 in the state.


The Buffalo cross-country team has usually been in the top tier of state teams, since the schools inception. Lance Harter [1974-1978] and Greg Weich, [1996–2005], were a nationally recognized coaches. In 2004, the girls team took second in the Nike Team Nationals have won four state titles. The boys side's best showing at the state meet have been two second place showings. One being lead by Mike Bakker and the other by Brent Vaughn. The place third in 1980 lead by Greg Keith and again place third in 2005 behind Grant Duin. There also have been numerous top ten team placements in the state meet over the last forty years.

Inline Hockey[edit]

Smoky placed 6th in the RMSIHL league with 6 wins,5 loses and 1 overtime lose. Smoky made it to the second round of the playoffs eventually losing to district rival Eaglecrest High School. Smoky only has a JV5 team.


The Lady buffs volleyball team has competed in the Centennial league since the beginning. With the competition of Creek, Cherokee Trail, Grandview, Eaglecrest, and Mullen, the Buffs have been competing in the top league in the state. In the past 9 years the 5A girls volleyball Championship has been taken by the centennial league, Smoky Hill claiming 3 of these Championships.[8] The championship teams were led by Steve Huntingdale, a known coach for Front Range Volleyball who is now coaching at Montana State. After he left the program, Katie Hagen took over for three years.

International Baccalaureate[edit]

In 1991, Smoky Hill became the second International Baccalaureate Diploma School established in the state of Colorado.

The International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma Programme (DP) is an educational programme examined in one of three languages (English, French or Spanish) and is a leading university entrance course.

The programme, administered by the International Baccalaureate Organization, is a recognized pre-university educational programme. Students take six subjects, and must also pass 3 extra requirements, for example Theory of Knowledge (ToK), a 4000-word Extended Essay (EE), and a requirement of at least a total of 150 hours in CAS (Creative, Action, Service)

Smoky Hill boasts their ability to offer one of the newer tests in the International Baccalaureate Programme, Digital Media Studies. 2009 was the first year that students tested in both the Higher Level and Standard Level of the test and they performed very well.

Notable Alumni[edit]

Notable faculty[edit]

See also[edit]


External links[edit]