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Rocky Heights Middle School students produce third original motion picture

Nighthawk Man art

HIGHLANDS RANCH – For a moment you might have thought you were in Hollywood. In May, the glitz and glamour of the red carpet was on full display at the Wildlife Experience IMAX Theater in Parker as Rocky Heights Middle School students and parents gathered to celebrate the premiere of “Nighthawk Man.”

The original movie was written, cast, shot and edited, complete with special effects, by staff and students from Rocky Heights Middle School.

“So we really wanted it to be not just the movie but a fun celebration for our school and what we’ve accomplished,” said Rocky Heights Middle School Technology Teacher and Nighthawk Man Production Specialist Scott Melanson.

RHMS Clara Krause who plays Lauren Darlington in the movie added, “The whole movie put together by the students and especially at the IMAX Theater, it blows you away.”

This well deserved premiere celebration, which included gowned stars, bright lights, interviews and of course a screening on the big-screen, was the culmination of months of script writing, shooting and editing video. This, however, was not just a fun school project, but it served as an authentic learning experience for the students.

“We’re really trying to create this authentic experience for kids and you really can’t much more authentic than this,” Melanson said. “Were really working the four “Cs”. They have a huge part of communication that works on putting together a broadcast to the school and community. Collaboration, they’re obviously working together with different roles and aspects that they’re using. Critical thinking and figuring out how to use each shot and what it’ll look like and creating something creative is something kids will use no matter what they do in life.”

“It’s exceptional to know that I can go to a school in DCSD and learn these aspects of film. By doing this, I get experience. With experience comes knowledge and with this knowledge I can go further with my aspirations to do movies and make films,” said RHMS student and movie editor Christopher Theodore.

After being part of the production, several of the students say they’re considering film as a potential career path and there is no doubt the skills they’ve learned will help them when they get to high school, college and perhaps, one day, the industry.

 “You feel kind of powerful cause you can bring super heroes to life. I think some people take this for granted, cool we’re making a movie but it really is a very cool experience,” said student Hayden Brauch, who was the film’s special effects editor and also starred in the film. “I am so grateful that our school does this because I’ve looked into futures of movie editing and film editing and this has let me see what it’s really like.”

While participating in the film meant long hours, working through school holidays, and a lot of hard work, staff and students both agreed that it was all worth the effort.

“It was an incredible experience, this night is always the most special,” said RHMS Drama Teacher and Movie Director Maclain Looper. “You see just how amazingly enthusiastic the kids are and their eyes are wide and they’re so receptive to what’s going on and they’re having a blast and they’re seeing their work on the screen and that’s inspiring to me.” 

READ MORE: Originators of ‘Nighthawk Man’ astonished by work of successors

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July 16, 2014 | By SCPaulsen | Category: Rocky Heights Middle School, Middle School Education

District News

High school students across Douglas County, and many students in respective feeder schools, are once again learning that a little kindness can go a long way. Again this year, our high schools hosted Wish Weeks to make dreams come true for Make-A-Wish Foundation beneficiaries.

The Douglas County School District (DCSD) Board of Education has named Thomas S. Tucker, Ph.D. as the sole finalist to lead our 68,000-student district as superintendent on a unanimous vote.


The American School Counseling Association (ASCA) has certified Sagewood Middle School as a Recognized ASCA National Model Program (RAMP). A prestigious honor, Sagewood is now the only middle school in the state of Colorado to have gained this certification. Schools must receive a near-perfect score on ASCA’s scoring rubric, which outlines guidelines for building and maintaining student achievement, behavior, counseling curriculum, school culture, and several other factors, in order to become certified.