Ponderosa High School (Parker, Colorado)

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Ponderosa High School
7007 East Bayou Gulch Road, Parker, Colorado
Coordinates 39°26′10″N 104°45′19″W / 39.43611°N 104.75532°W / 39.43611; -104.75532Coordinates: 39°26′10″N 104°45′19″W / 39.43611°N 104.75532°W / 39.43611; -104.75532
Motto Proud, Productive, Proven
Established 1983
School district Douglas County School District RE-1
Principal David Haggerty
Staff 180[1]
Grades 9-12
Enrollment 1382
Color(s) Cardinal and gold         
Athletics CHSAA 4A
Athletics conference Continental League
Mascot Mustangs
Newspaper The Mustang Express
Information 303-387-4106

Ponderosa High School (commonly Pondo or PHS) is a public high school in Parker, Colorado, United States. It is part of Douglas County School District RE-1.

The school earned an "Excellent" rating by the Colorado Student Assessment Program in 2004, and a "High" score in 2005.[1]


Ponderosa has won ten 5A state wrestling titles since 1997, including eight consecutive wins between 2003 and 2010. The seventh consecutive win broke a 60-year-old record set in 1944–1949 by Denver North.[2] In addition, Ponderosa has a perfect 167–0 conference dual record from 1994 to the present.[3] NFHS Coaches Association National Wrestling coach of the year[4] Tim Ottmann retired after 2008 and the team is now coached by Corey McNellis.

Ponderosa's football team won the 2003 5A State Championship.

Ponderosa has also won state championships in Girls Basketball (1986), Boys Basketball (1988), Girls Softball (1992), Girls Volleyball (2009), and Boys Lacrosse (2014). [5]

The school moved down to CHSAA 4A starting in the 2011-2012 school year, due to the foundation of Legend High School in 2008.

Band program[edit]

The Ponderosa High School bands have a history in the Parker community. The Marching Band has been state champions nine times. The Winter Percussion Ensemble came in second place in 2008 and has won numerous awards throughout its history. In 2011 the school hired Bill Phalen as band director.[6]

Teacher-student relationship controversy[edit]

In 2005, Ponderosa teacher Nicole Andrea Barnhart became a registered sex offender after it was discovered that she was having an intimate relationship with one of her sophomore students.[7]

Student death[edit]

In October 2007, Ponderosa student Jake McCarty drove his Nissan Maxima into a traffic signal pole. The police found him dead at the crash site, where the car was completely flipped. After McCarty's death, his friends and family felt angry that the principal did not address the issue in a respectful manner by holding a school-wide moment of silence for him. The principal addressed this by saying that getting the whole school involved would perhaps be overkill, as, out of a student body of over 1,200, not all students actually knew Jake personally, and bringing the grief to others was deemed unnecessary.[8] Additionally, the school administration did not feel that holding a moment of silence was the best way to remember McCarty. Controversy also stemmed from widespread rumors that school officials had prohibited teachers from acknowledging Jake's death in their classes. Students widely regarded the administration's "business as usual" approach as disrespectful to Jake and his family.[9] After attention was brought to this issue by the school newspaper, The Mustang Express, as well as by the McCarty family, local news agencies became involved and placed pressure on administration officials to rectify their misconduct. The paper also dispelled the administration's claim that all forms of memorial services must be approved by the district, proving that this was entirely false.[9] Following this, several school organizations, although the student council had no part in organizing a remembrance, initiated their own means of honoring McCarty, and they were not prevented from doing so by the administration in their efforts.

April 2007 bomb scare[edit]

On April 20, 2007, former Ponderosa student Caleb Pegues, as a prank, set off a stink bomb in an area frequented by students who allegedly smoked marijuana in the area. The date (4/20) holds some significance to many people, as well as being the anniversary of the Columbine massacre. The stink bomb consisted of a combination of various household chemicals. Reports indicated that either a toilet bowl cleaner or ammonia was put in a plastic bottle along with a piece of tin foil. This reaction created a gas, causing the plastic bottle to expand until it burst. The gas created by such a mixture reportedly smells like rotten eggs.

As a result of this prank, Pegues was arrested, charged as an adult under Colorado's Direct File Statute by District Attorney for Colorado's 18th Judicial District, Carol Chambers, for committing several felonies before any investigation.

Chambers was criticized harshly by the public for overreacting and filing excessive charges against Pegues. Many newspaper stories expressed the opinion that it was not appropriate that Chambers charge the juvenile as an adult for what most would consider nothing more than a childish prank.[10]

Grace Davis Protest Controversy[edit]

On April 19th, 2016, sophomore Grace Davis was called in for a meeting with DCSD board of education members, Meghamnn Silverthorn and Judith Reynolds. Grace had organized a student protest to address concerns about good teachers leaving the district in response to pay for performance type reforms at Ponderosa High School. During the meeting, Davis felt she was bullied and intimidated by the board President and Vice President, and felt her speech was violated, leading to later involvement of the ACLU.

Notable alumni[edit]


  1. ^ a b Ponderosa High School 2004-2005 School Accountability Report. Compiled by the Colorado Department of Education.
  2. ^ "Ponderosa sets record at state tournament". usatoday.com. Retrieved 24 February 2009. 
  3. ^ "Colorado High School Wrestling Records", published by the Colorado High School Activities Association. Updated 9 February 2006, accessed 30 November 2006.
  4. ^ "National Coaches of the Year Selected by NFHS Coaches Association(2)" (Press release). NFHS. Archived from the original on 4 July 2012. Retrieved 22 June 2017. 
  5. ^ "Colorado high school sports championship history by school". Colorado High School Activities Association. Retrieved 22 June 2017. 
  6. ^ "http://www.ponderosaband.org", Ponderosa Band Booster website
  7. ^ John Aguilar (January 4, 2006). "Teacher pleads guilty to sex assault". Rocky Mountain News. Archived from the original on December 3, 2012. 
  8. ^ Kyle Clark (November 27, 2007). "Family Feels School Disrespected Their Dead Son". First Coast News. Archived from the original on January 23, 2013. 
  9. ^ a b "Erin O'mara. "Editorial" (PDF). Mustang Express. Archived from the original (PDF) on July 24, 2011. 
  10. ^ Chris Michlewicz (13 March 2008). "Teen sentenced for '07 bomb hoax". Douglas County News-Press. Archived from the original on March 23, 2008. Retrieved 22 June 2017 – via Colorado Community Newspapers. 
  11. ^ 8 Connor Freeman ponderosabaseball.org
  12. ^ Chris Barge (March 31, 2007). "Coloradan steps right into the media spotlight". Rocky Mountain News. Archived from the original on 27 March 2008. 

External links[edit]