Douglas County School District news

News release
Posted 2/6/12

Rocky Heights 8th-grader, his llama emerge as champions at stock show While a lot of Douglas County students likely visited the National Western …

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Douglas County School District news


Rocky Heights 8th-grader, his llama emerge as champions at stock show

While a lot of Douglas County students likely visited the National Western Stock Show, an eighth-grader from Rocky Heights Middle School was a participant and won several awards.

Luke Bakken is an active member of 4-H and works with llamas. During the stock show, Luke showed a young llama named Bouncer.

Luke and Bouncer competed in Llama Performance in the Intermediate age group. In the Pack class they won second place, in the Obstacle class they won first place and in the Public Relations class they won second place. Overall, in Llama Performance Bouncer was the Reserve Grand Champion. In Llama Showmanship in the Intermediate age group they placed third. They also competed in Walking Fiber, which does not have age group classifications, and the animal is judged on the quality of its fiber. Bouncer was named Grand Champion in Walking Fiber.

Luke says his work with 4-H has taught him a lot about patience, trust, compassion, and leadership.

8th-grader launches longboard company

Any entrepreneur will tell you the key to successful business is following your passion. That is certainly the case for a Rocky Heights Middle School student who has started his own longboard company.

Ryan Nickell spends every minute he can on his longboard. As he spent more and more time at this sport, he recognized that longboards didn't last long, and they were quite expensive. A need for inexpensive, custom longboards led him to create his own company, FlowJoe Longboards.

With the support of his parents, Nickell has created several prototypes, and is working with an artist to create unique designs and graphics for his boards. Nickell created a website to showcase his products and his story, and markets his products via the website and through word-of-mouth.

In addition to a great product, Nickell hopes to make a difference by donating 10 percent of the profit from each board to This nonprofit ministry allows kids to skateboard free of charge while they hear a positive message and have fun with their friends. To learn more about Nickell's company, visit

Drama students learn from the pros

Drama students from Rocky Heights Middle School recently spent the day at the Colorado Convention Center learning about the art of acting from professional actors.

During the Junior Thespian Convention the students participated in workshops given by professionals focusing on acting and technical theater.

Each student had the opportunity to try his or her hand at improvisation, Broadway dance, monologue performance, clowning, playwriting, and stage make-up. Some even chose to prepare an individual performance to be evaluated by a panel of judges.

With 78 students attending, Rocky Heights had the largest contingent at the conference from a middle school, and brought the third most attendees from any school.

The students also saw a production of Musical Comedy Murders of 1940. The production, selected by a judge to perform at both the middle and high school conferences, was put on by Liberty High School.

Middle school students go "backstage" at state capitol

A lot of students visit the state capitol, but eighth-graders from Rocky Heights Middle School recently had the opportunity to go beyond the normal tour.

During their trip field trip on Dec. 9, 2011, the students met with Rep. Holbert in the House Chamber, Sen. Scheffel in the Senate Chamber and Sen. Harvey in the Senate Committee rooms.

The trip to the capitol provided an opportunity to learn first-hand what it takes to work in government, and at the end of the day the lawmakers the group with a Colorado flag that had flown over the Capitol that day.

Students take lead on collecting hard-to-recycle bottle caps

Did you know that most recycling centers are not equipped to reuse the caps from water or shampoo bottles? Neither did the kids at Rocky Heights Middle School, until they partnered with Aveda.

The school's student council teamed up with the shampoo-maker to collect hard-to-recycle bottle caps.

The student council provided bins for students and teachers to use during lunch to deposit caps. The students will periodically send the caps to Aveda, which has a facility to process the caps-and keep them out of local landfills.

Sixth-grade team provides loans for impoverished countries

Some sixth-grade students at Rocky Heights Middle School are proving that you do not need a lot of money to make a big difference.

The students have been studying the concept of microeconomics in their social studies classes. To put this in to real-world terms, they held a three-day spare change drive, "Small Change Makes a Big Difference." The student body was encouraged to check their couches, backpacks, parents' purses and pockets, for extra change to donate.

The money collected was used to provide small loans for people in impoverished countries in Latin America, through One class collected enough change to furnish three different loans of $25 each, and another class extended two $25 loans.

The exercise, which was part of their studies about Latin America, was a valuable, hands-on way to learn about culture, finance, and interest rates.

Mentoring program helps 6th-graders learn the middle school ropes

Members of the Rocky Heights Middle School National Junior Honor Society have teamed up with their counterparts at the Rock Canyon High School National Honor Society to offer sixth-grade students at Rocky Heights one-on-one help in academics, organization, study skills and work habits.

Each pair of students meets weekly for one hour after school. RHMS counselor Lori Qui leads the program, along with Lori King and Marlaine McMechen from RCHS.

The program has proven to be a huge success. "Our student mentors are great with the kids, they are patient, and kind," Qui remarked. "I see them actively helping the younger students work through their questions. I see them engaged in not only academic support but kid conversations as well, laughing and having fun."

NJHS and NHS promote scholarship, service, leadership, character, and citizenship. The mentoring program promotes those values and has resulted in tremendous bonds and friendships.

"The mentors light up when you talk to them about the relationships they are making with our sixth grade students," King said. "They know that they are making a positive difference in our school community. They feel empowered as leaders and role models, and they're having fun!"

DU selects "Rising Stars" from Colorado Cyber School

Twenty-five elementary students from Colorado Cyber School were recently honored through the University of Denver's Rising Star program.

The program honors elementary school students from across the state for demonstrating exemplary academic aptitude and character. The students, who were nominated by their teachers and principals, will be guests of honor at an upcoming DU men's basketball game.

The students recognized are: Kindergarten: Ethan Hibler and Jesus Ortiz; 1st Grade: Jayden Bane, Jensyn Bane, Austin Buckner, Luke Johnson, Shawn Tanuz, Nathaniel VanCiclen; 2nd Grade: Adam Sodic, Emma Sammoury; 3rd Grade: Matthew Buckley, Kevin Keenan, Caleb Parker, Michael Thompson; 4th Grade: Lukas Taylor, Brookann Ware, Cameron Erhle, Sebastian Hansen, Lauren Lewis, Jacob Kelly; 5th Grade: Katelynn Lewis, Ben Fast, Joshua Hutchinson, Caytlin Bane, Victoria Buckely"

Fire truck carries poster created by elementary school student

A poster created by a Douglas County student is now on display in a pretty unusual place, and is being seen all around Castle Rock.

Jessica Thompson's artwork is now being displayed on a Castle Rock fire truck, after she won a fire safety poster contest, conducted by the city's fire department. Thompson entered Castle Rock Fire's contest last fall while attending Castle Rock Elementary. She now attends South Ridge Elementary.


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