Palisade High School

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Palisade High School
Palisade High School logo.gif
Palisade, Colorado
Coordinates 39°06′19″N 108°22′12″W / 39.10517°N 108.36993°W / 39.10517; -108.36993Coordinates: 39°06′19″N 108°22′12″W / 39.10517°N 108.36993°W / 39.10517; -108.36993
Type Public secondary school
Motto "Seeking excellence in academics, activities, and athletics"
Established 1904
Principal Dan Bollinger[1]
Faculty 45
Enrollment 1090[2]
Color(s) Maroon and white         
Mascot Bulldog
District Mesa County Valley School District (District 51)

Palisade Senior High School is a high school located in Palisade, Colorado, United States. It is part of the Mesa County Valley School District 51. It is situated on the western edge of Palisade, on the "old highway" (US Highway 6). The town of Palisade and the school were founded in 1904. The current school building was completed in 1992, making it one of the more modern schools in the district. The town of Palisade and the community are supportive of the school.

Palisade High School is a participant International Baccalaureate (IB) school, the first in District 51, and the only IB school in Western Colorado, save Aspen High School.[3] The school has a history of successful athletics and other extracurricular events.


The first Palisade School was built in 1893 on Second Street just east of Main Street. A second Palisade School was built on the corner of Fourth and Kluge. The third Palisade School was built in 1910 on the corner of Iowa and 7th Street. It was demolished in December 1970. Palisade High School was built in 1925 and a gymnasium added later as a WPA project. That building remained in operation until 1992 (though it had been continually modified and added onto), when the current facility was opened on 3679 "G" Road.[4]

Several traditions are held at Palisade which have their roots in the community. For instance, starting in 1949, every homecoming week the senior class "enslaves" the freshmen, forcing them to carry rocks up the Orchard Mesa hill, whitewash them, and put them into a large "P" that can be seen through the Grand Valley.[5]

The original mascot of the school was the "Palisade Peaches," a reference to the rich fruit orchards of the region, especially famous for sweet peaches. However, in the 1920s, a student, Marion Bowman, brought his British bulldog to football games, and the dog soon became a school favorite. In his honor, the mascot was changed to the current Palisade Bulldogs, and is now named "Spike". A bronze statue of a bulldog graces the foyer of the school. It was sculpted and donated by Parker G. C. Inc.[6]

PHS main entrance
Palisade High School from "G" Road before the addition of the second row of doors


Palisade offers several Advanced Placement (AP) classes and is the only International Baccalaureate school on the Western Slope except for Aspen High School. While the range of AP classes and IB classes is limited due to the school's size and demand for such classes, PHS maintains a higher level of such classes, especially for a school of its size.

A movement that began at PHS, the PACK program, is an integral part of Palisade academics. Students with any grades below passing, or a C, must spend the first half of lunch in Content Tutoring, where they get homework help. This program has begun to gain popularity with other schools in the district.[7]

Apart from these programs, Palisade High School's curriculum is that of any school in District 51. This includes a 25 credit system, drawing from a variety of subjects. Three credits are required in mathematics, science, and social studies, and four credits in English. Also required are credits in PE, computer literacy, fine arts, and other general electives. PHS offers a variety of classes, including unique classes such as food science and technical education, which fit into various credit requirements.

For graduation, a 2.0 grade point average is required, as well as a "proficient" level on the Colorado Student Assessment Program (CSAP), a product of the No Child Left Behind Act.

Extracurricular activities[edit]


Athletics at Palisade High include:

Palisade High School football is a favorite sport in the school and among locals. The offense has a crowd-pleasing powerful running game, characterized by Joe Ramunno's full house backfield in the early 1990s, Todd Casebier, with his standard I formation offense, or the former coach, John Arledge, with his veer offense. Early in the 1990s, the team won four consecutive Colorado State 3A Championships.[8]

PHS running back
A Palisade runner waiting on second base

Other sports are gaining popularity. The school's baseball team has gained notoriety in recent seasons, and track stars are common from PHS athletics. Wrestlers and golfers make state level competitions and win awards frequently.


More than just athletics dominate the school's extracurricular pastimes. The school's Knowledge Bowl team has taken the 4A state title two years running, taking second in inter-classification competitions, losing only to the 5A ranked Grand Junction High School. Since 2005, the school's Speech and Debate team has had four State Champions and one National Champion.

PHS offers a "club day" on Mondays in which students are exempt from Content Tutoring, and freshmen are required to attend at least one club. The school's chess club finishes each year with an intramural competition. Many students from the school have also participated in the local robotics team. PHS also has an active Christianity-based club that meets year round.

Awards and recognitions[edit]

The previous principal, Matthew Diers, was named the Colorado Principal of the Year by the Colorado Association of School Executives. This was given in response to the major increase in test scores, attendance rates, and participation in higher level classes during his seven years as principal.[9]

Many sports awards have been given to the school. The most notable and recent have been the four consecutive football state championships of the 1990s, and the Knowledge Bowl state championship titles received both in 2011 and 2010.

Notable alumni and teachers[edit]

Ann Conaway, the former head of the mathematics department, is a member of Colorado Department of Education experts regarding math curricula and assessment guides.

The previous principal, Matthew Diers, has won national level recognition for policies that brought student success up drastically. Most notable is the PACK program, which is being emulated by other schools.[10]

See also[edit]


External links[edit]