Does Newer Mean Better? 1

A View From Parker’s Oldest High School

Great schools are steeped in tradition, legacy and longevity. They endure over time regardless of their physical surroundings.

However, in an age of school choice, newer schools typically seem more attractive to parents and students than older schools because of the physical surroundings.  Aesthetically, they look better because they are newer, but it’s important for people to take a close look at what’s happening on the inside.

Ponderosa is the oldest high school in Parker and the second oldest in the county, and is rated among the top 15 percent of high schools in the state. Students can choose from 30 college courses, of which 18 are A.P. courses. Ponderosa graduates have some of the lowest remediation rates in the state, meaning that they are ready and well prepared for college. The average ACT composite score is 22.8, an impressive 2 points ahead of the state average and the highest among all Parker high schools. Ponderosa’s graduation rate has remained above 94 percent for 31 years! Last year alone, Ponderosa seniors were awarded more than $4 million in college scholarships.

Ponderosa is the only school in Parker to offer auto mechanics. Our students are able to gain certification from the National Automotive Technicians Education Foundation (NATEF), allowing them to compete for jobs directly out of high school. This program attracts students from all over the district, and the school even has its own drag racing team.

In addition to Ponderosa’s academic excellence, Ponderosa excels in activities and athletics. Ponderosa offers 47 total club and extracurricular opportunities for students to be involved in. Ponderosa’s PeaceJam Club was the first recipient of the PeaceJam Hero Award and received a visit from native-rights activist and Nobel Peace Laureate Roberta Menchu Tum in 2009. The PeaceJam Club has also been responsible for an energy reduction/recycling program that has saved the school district tens of thousands of dollars over the past five years.

Ponderosa’s athletic programs continue to be some of the best in the state, regularly earning league, regional and state honors. During the past 31 years, Ponderosa has won 110 league championships in multiple sports and 28 state championships in nine different sports, which is the most of any high school in Douglas County.

The activity programs are also some of the best in the state, garnering state championships in marching band, color guard and percussion. Additionally, the theater department, under the direction of Drew Keat, is gaining praise and recognition by producing quality plays and developing creativity in students.

Interestingly, being the oldest high school in Parker has its advantages. In the competitive race of “choice,” Ponderosa remains a constant for excellence in the Parker community.

Ponderosa produces quality students who are ready for college. Ponderosa changes the world through peace and recycling efforts. Ponderosa competes athletically at the state and national level, and offers first-class activity programs. Ponderosa proves that newer doesn’t always mean better.

Ponderosa Mustangs – PROUD, PRODUCTIVE, PROVEN!  

Tim Ottmann is assistant principal/athletic director at Ponderosa High School.