Ponderosa High School
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Ponderosa History

Ponderosa High School History

The roots of Ponderosa High School date back to 1914 when several one-room school houses consolidated into one school while the Parker School was under construction.  The Parker Consolidated High School was completed in 1915 and accredited in 1936.

In 1915 the School District provided transportation in horse-drawn school buses.  For those students providing their own transportation to Parker Consolidated School the County paid one dollar per mile once a month.

In 1958 the State told the Presidents of each School Board in all seventeen Douglas County School Districts they had to reorganize or all State aid would be discontinued.

Castle Rock and Parker were the only schools with more than one room.  Since the school at Castle Rock, which was at that time called Douglas County High School, was larger, the committee for consolidation decided the high school would be in Castle Rock.  The committee promoted consolidation by telling everyone that if all high school students went to Castle Rock there would be better classes, better teachers and more activities.  Several meetings and discussions were held before consolidation was approved.

The people at Parker threatened to sue the County for moving the high school to Castle Rock.  The Parker students did not want to go to Douglas County High School because they wanted to save their very good basketball team. 

The sports seasons at Parker High School started out with speedball instead of football for the boys and volleyball for the girls.  Basketball seasons for girls and boys ran about the same as they do now.  The boys wore green and white, which were Parker colors at the time, while the girls wore black bloomers and white middies.  Parker High School also had a wrestling team, tennis, co-ed softball---and their mascot was the buffalo.

The first newspaper of Parker High School was published in 1936 and was called THE FOGHORN.  The name for the newspaper was submitted by Lewis Christiansen in 1936 and was the only name submitted.  The name of the newspaper was changed to THE PLAINSMAN in 1938.

On September 25, 1979, a citizens committee searching for possible sites for the new Parker area high school met for the first time.  The guidelines they established were as follows:  the Parker high school should be located on a site with a minimum of fifty acres that has safe access and utilities available; the site should be between Franktown on the south and Arapahoe County line on the north and within three miles of Highway 83.

On November 4, 1979, the committee selecting a site for the Parker area high school reported to the Board of Education that the location for Parker’s future high school was the on located at Bayou Gulch Road.  Bids for the construction of the new building were opened on March 24, 1981.

One interesting fact about the development of Ponderosa High School – a new superintendent was appointed in 1958 by the name of Lowell Baumunk.  One of the first responsibilities given to him by the Board of Education of Douglas County was to close the old Parker High School.  Before he retired in January of 1982, one of his last official acts was to sign the contract for the opening of Ponderosa High School.

 Ponderosa High School opened its doors as the Home of the Mustangs in January of 1983 .  Ponderosa’s first cardinal and gold graduating class was in 1984.

From the beginning to the spring of 1992, Ponderosa had grades 10, 11, and 12 with 1000 to 1100 students each year.  Douglas County was growing about 10 percent a year and was known as the fastest growing county, percentage wise, in the United States.

In the spring of 1992, the first addition of 23 classrooms was added to Ponderosa High School.  The capacity was now 1500 students, which now included a 9th grade class.  In the summer of 1994, 13 more classrooms and the expansion of the Dining Room was completed, the building capacity was now 1900 students.

Ponderosa was a member of the Skyline League through the 1993-1994 school year.  In the fall if 1994 Ponderosa High School joined the Continental League.

From 1994 to 1996, Ponderosa grew to approximately 2100 students.  In 1997, Chaparral was built and become the second high school in Parker, and Ponderosa’s enrollment decreased to around 1800 students.  From 1997 to 2007, Ponderosa once again grew to over 2000 students, until Legend High School opened in 2008.  The opening of Legend had quite an impact on the enrollment at PHS, which currently stands at approximately 1200 students.  Because of the decrease in enrollment, Ponderosa dropped to 4A in many of their sports programs.

Ponderosa has a tradition of excellence, with 96% graduation rate, and test scores that are consistently above the state average.  PHS has won 108 league championships, the most among the nine Douglas County High Schools.  The Mustangs have 24 state championships, which puts PHS tied with Highlands Ranch High School for the most in Douglas County School District.  Ponderosa has also won state championships in Marching Band and Color Guard.

Douglas County School District is the fourth-largest school district in Colorado, serving over 53,000 students with 71 schools led by a seven-member Board of Education.

Ponderosa High School is very proud of its history and success over the past 32 years. The future looks very bright for the Mustangs. 

Ponderosa Principals

Dr. Patrick Grippe 1983-1985 ~ Dr. William Larson 1985-2002 ~ Mrs. Cathy Brondos 2002-2006 ~ Mr. Charles Puga 2006-2015 ~ Mr. David Haggerty 2015 to 2017 ~
Mr. Tim Ottmann 2018 to present




Parker, Colorado History

According to popular legend, Parker can trace its colorful history to the establishment of the Pine Grove Way Station by Alfred Butters, around 1863. Prior to that time, the area was used for hunting by Indians, say renowned archaeologists who have unearthed several semi-permanent hunting camps. The first residents of the area were the ancients (prehistoric) including Plains-Woodland Indians and later (1800s) mostly Arapahoe, Cheyenne and Utes. 
White men explored the general area in the early part of the nineteenth century: James Pursley in 1803, Baptiste LaLande in 1804, Stephen H. Long in 1820 and John Charles Fremont in 1843-44. 
The old Indian trails that ran next to Cherry Creek near Parker were also used by early traders, trappers, frontiersmen and gold seekers, such as John Beck, Captain R.B. Marcy, William Green Russell, Thomas Fitzpatrick, Jim Baker, "Uncle Dick" Wootton, and Kit Carson. 
The trail became known as the Cherokee Trail and a branch of Trapper's Trail. When stage lines rolled into Colorado, it became known as the Smoky Hill Trail South, the West Cherry Creek Stage Road and the Denver-Santa Fe Stage Road. 
Gold was discovered in Colorado in 1858, and the following year over 100,000 people followed the trails here in search of their fortunes. Small towns and settlements sprang up as the focus changed from gold to land. 
Alfred Butters built a tiny one-room building in the pines just south of the Parker United Methodist Church around 1863. Butters handled mail, supplied provisions and a place to leave messages; it was a refuge for travelers and was appropriately named Pine Grove. He traded the building to a Mr. Goldsmith for a yoke of oxen and Goldsmith in turn sold to Mr. and Mrs. George Long in 1864. 
To continue with the legend, the Longs moved the structure to its present location on Mainstreet, built an addition to include 10 rooms and a second story ballroom, and added some other buildings to accommodate animals and wagons. 
Since the structure was being situated about 20 miles from Denver City, the Longs named it 20-Mile House; it was a stage stop that provided meals, lodging and provisions. Although courthouse records bring the dates into question, historical accounts generally agree that George Long traded the 20-Mile House to Nelson and Susan Doud in 1869 for a span of mules. The legend says that the Douds sold it to James Sample Parker, an ex-bull-whacker and station manager who had been living in Kiowa, in 1874. The deed is dated September 15, 1870. 
Under Parker's ownership, the 20-Mile House grew and prospered; a blacksmith shop with equipment to shoe oxen and a general mercantile store were added to the facilities. It became Pine Grove's first post office on December 8, 1870. James Parker granted rights-of-way for future roads, ditches, telephone lines and eventually the Denver & New Orleans Railroad. When his daughter, Edith Alice, reached school age, he provided the first schoolhouse across the road from the 20-Mile House. He also paid the teacher's salary for the first year and provided her with room and board. 
The town's first cemetery was located atop the hill just east of the intersection of Highway 83 and E-470, but when Parker's son Charlie died in 1874, his son Bela in 1882, and his first wife Mattie in 1887, he buried each on a knoll just northeast of 20-Mile House. 
Those three plus acres were donated by James as the town's new cemetery, and since it was surveyed in 1884, presumably that was when the land was donated, through to what organization is unknown. In 1885 the four people known to have been buried in the original cemetery were re-interred in the new one. Title to the cemetery was transferred by James Parker's heirs to the J.S. Parker Cemetery Association in 1911. 
Parker died in 1910 and was buried next to his wife Mattie. Nearby is the grave of another pioneer whose headstone reads "Jonathan Tallman. Killed by Indians, May 8, 1870." Many of Parker's first families are buried in this little cemetery. 
Land west of Highway 83 was owned by James Parker, but the land east of the highway was homesteaded by James' brother, George. George established a saloon and was instrumental in seeing that other businesses located in the growing town. The railroad provided the impetus and by the turn of the century Parker boasted a hotel, the post office, two blacksmith shops, water tower and pump house, three general mercantile, a dry goods store, a saloon, a livery stable, a brick works, a stock yard, a creamery, a barber shop, a school, a few miscellaneous dwellings. And in nearby Newlin Gulch, gold was found in the mid 1880's.

Old Parker Schools


Fonder School House


This school was built in the late 1860´s as a log school house. It burned in 1884 and a new school house was built with stone from Castle Rock. It is the oldest still standing school house in Douglas County.

Some early history writings held that Miriam Fonder started the Fonder School in her home in 1861. Part of the information is true, however, the date is wrong. In 1861 Miriam Donegan immigrated to Idaho Springs Colorado from Iowa; married Hubert Fonder on the 26th of October in Clear Creek County; moved to Douglas County in December of 1865, following Hubert’s discharge from military service. It was after that when she started the Fonder School in her home. Then, a log school house was built down on the Cherry Creek. Students came from all around the area including Pine Grove. (Parker) This school became District # 8. This log structure burned in 1884 and was replaced with a more durable structure made of Rhyolite lava stone, quarried from the Plateau Quarry about seven miles west of the school site. One written report stated that some stone was quarried close to the school house. The stone was hauled to the site by oxen belonging to David McMurdo, a local rancher.

The school building had a well for water located West of the building, and blackboards lined the walls. Kerosene lamps provided artificial light and a pot bellied stove provided warmth on cold days. In the early days the windows had shutters, probably to provide protection from Indian attacks as they were numerous. The one room school had a raised stage platform where the teacher´s desk was placed to provide a commanding view and which also provided a place for artful performances. Outside the building was a horse barn which was used to shelter animals the children rode to school, and the boys and girls out houses.

The school house was the center of many social activities during the early years, and accommodated various religious activities, club meetings, political meetings, dances, and was the first meeting place for the Fonder Grange in 1875. 

The school was in business until it closed in 1949. Its last teacher was Norma Gartrell, a long time Parker resident.


Hilltop School


Hill Top Colorado, later changed to Hilltop, was located in Douglas County at the Cross roads of Hill Top Road and Flintwood Road. It had been originally called Bellview, but with the coming of the Denver & New Orleans RR the name was changed for two reasons; one, there was already a Bellview in Northern Colorado, and the town was situated at the top of a steep grade that the train would have to climb. In the early years that steep grade would require two engines to haul the load.

Hill Top´s first school was a log structure situated about a ¼of a mile or so to the West of the current structure, on the North side of Democrat Road. Initial classes were held in a woodshed until its completion in 1888. The school was deemed to be District # 30. That first class had 11 scholars; George, Robert, and Grace Timson, James, Arthur & Curtis Monroe, Jimmy and Linda Arnett, Oscar and Charles Queim, Allie Laur, and Henry Benton. This school eventually burned and a new facility was needed. About 1896 two acres of land were secured from the State for a new school site. In June of 1897 the new school was finished. Free text books for the children were secured.

As was the norm in those days the school house became the social gathering point for the NE corner of Douglas County and beyond. The Record Journal reported in 1895 that four preachers were living in the vicinity of Hill Top, all ranching and preaching on Sunday; two United Brethren, and two Free Methodists. Each Sunday recorded two Sunday schools and two regular services. Many a dance and oyster supper were held there. It became the home of the Ladies Hill Top Social Club. The school was a one teacher endeavor for many years. About 1937 student populations dictated two teachers were needed, & a moveable partition was deployed to make two classrooms. The two teacher set up was used only a few years. The school had a stage on the East end and at some point a moveable partition was installed and the stage became a sleeping unit for the teacher. High school students attended Parker High School until 1937 when they taken to Castle Rock. The school closed in 1954 and it was turned over to the Hill Top Social Club to manage. It can still be rented out for various activities.

Information for this brief obtained from the book Our Heritage by the Douglas County Historical Society, and the books Douglas County by Josephine Lowell Marr, and A Guide Book to Historical sites in Parker by F.B. McLaughlin. Updated in January 2009 by Larry T. Smith 

Location: From Mainstreet and Parker Road, drive South on Parker Road for .55 miles to Hilltop Road. Turn left on Hilltop and drive for 6.1 miles to Flintwood Road. Turn right and continue for .4 miles. The school is on the left.

Historic Significance

The Hilltop School is one of the last remaining examples of a small rural schoolhouse in Douglas County.  Built in 1898, the Hilltop School served children from the community of Hilltop and Elbert County until 1954.

The two-acre school site consists of the original schoolhouse, coal shed, well house, oil bunker, and outhouses.  All of these structures remain on the property with the exception of the horse shed.  Since closing in 1954, the schoolhouse has been cared for by the Hilltop Social Club.


Parker Consolidated K-12 School


 The Parker Consolidated School (District 37) was built in 1914-15 to provide more room for the expanding Pine Grove school population, as well as to consolidate the Plainfield, Allison and Pine grove Schools. One of the principle contractors for the construction was William H. O´Brien of Parker. The site for the new school, 1.15 acres was obtained from Emma C. Lewis in November of 1914. Water was supplied to the facility by a well. Restroom facilities were two outhouses, a boys, and a girls, out back of the main building. They did not have electricity for the school until 1924 when an offer was made by Andrew Johnson, the local bank president, to hook up to the Ruth Memorial Church generator next door. Mr. Johnson had donated the generator, so that the church would have electricity and in anticipation of making the offer to the school, sized the generator accordingly.

In addition to the school building, two outhouses, and a combustible waste incinerator, the school property also contained a bus barn on the West side of the property. The barn housed the two school bus wagons and we presume the two horse teams that pulled the wagons. In January of 1925 the school board sold the old bus barn for $125, and the wagons for $750 and $850. Mechanized conveyances were coming to the front.

The school was built for grades one thru twelve. In the first few years high school classes were taught, but it was not until 1920 that a two year accredited program of instruction at the high school level was established in vocational agriculture, shop practice, & domestic science and art. Finally in 1924, a four year program was established. However, it would not be until 1936 that the school would be given full academic accreditation on a provisional basis, and 1939, when the accreditation became permanent.

When the school opened it housed two grades to each room on the first floor, for the elementary classes. The high school classes, an office, and an auditorium took up the second floor. In the 1940´s overcrowding forced the housing of three elementary grades to a room on the first floor, and the moving of grades 7 & 8 to the second floor. The chemistry and typing rooms were moved to the first floor.

In October of 1925 the basket ball court was lighted and buzzer bells installed throughout the school. Gravel tennis courts were installed in May of 1928. Sports, band, and pep club were a large part of the high school experience. Base ball, soft ball, basket ball, track, band, and pep club were the main focus of student and parental extracurricular participation. Parents followed their team with great enthusiasm. In those days, activity busses were to be a thing of the future, so parents hauled their team members around the state in private vehicles to play away games. In the early days the basketball team did not have an indoor facility to play games, so most games were played at other schools. Their practice area was an outdoor court behind the school. Some improvement occurred, when one of the old RR warehouses became available for play, but many a splinter was obtained by players falling on the old wooden floors. One year the team used the second story of the old Deepe Hall building to play in. These poor facilities led to the drive to build an auditorium which was accomplished, with the building of the Community Center in 1950-51. The high light of the sports programs occurred in 1953-54 when Parker played in the Bears stadium in Denver, and won the State high School Baseball Championship. 

The Pep Club originated in 1938 as the Green Peppers, but did not continue that name after 1940-41. The first year for Girls Basket ball was the 1940-41 school year. Six man football was added to the sports program in 1955-56. The teams were known as the Buffalos and originally the school colors were green and white. However the school colors were changed in 1951-52 to blue and white. 

Other school activities were the school newspaper and the annual staff. The newspaper was originally called the Foghorn, but changed its name in 1938 to the Plainsman. The first school annual was put out in 1937. The annual was initially called LeResume, but in 1951-52, changed to the Buffalo. 

In 1958 the school board sent the high school students to Castle Rock for classes. The school was remodeled in 1960 to accommodate growth, but was closed for school purposes in 1966. 

In 1970 the building was purchased by the United Methodist Church which during their ownership added a large addition to the South end of the main building. The Methodist Church outgrew the building and in 1996 committed to the construction of a new building on the South end of town. The old school building, the Ruth Memorial Church, and the old church parsonage were sold to the Town of Parker. In 1997 the town turned the old school into a town cultural center, and provided space on the second floor for the Parker Area Historical Society to open a Historic School Classroom, and a small history museum. Information for this brief obtained from various articles in the Record Journal, School records, and the book A guide to Historic Sites in the Parker Area by Frank B. McLaughlin.

This building has been land-marked by the Town of Parker

This brief updated in January 2009 by Larry T. Smith 

Location: From Mainstreet and Parker Road, drive East on Mainstreet for .21 miles to the schoolhouse. It is now the Mainstreet Center.