Smoky Hill High School is located in Aurora, Colorado, United States. It enrolls around 2,600 students. Smoky Hill is part of the Cherry Creek School District and was the second high school built by the district in 1974.
It goes by the short name 'Smoky'. The name comes from the fact that the school is located not far from the Smoky Hill Trail, an old pioneer trail stretching from Kansas to Denver.
In 1991, Smoky Hill became the second high school in Colorado to offer the International Baccalaureate Program. Since that time Smoky has been recognized in Newsweek's nationwide list of excellent high schools. In 2006, Smoky Hill's AVID program was the only school in the AVID Western Division to be recognized as a National Demonstration School with Distinction. Smoky Hill also supports the Advanced Placement program and offers nineteen AP classes.
In the summer of 2010, the Cherry Creek School District began renovations to improve the overall functionality of the building. The windows were enlarged, the pool area was completely reconstructed, new carpet was installed, and the general aesthetics of the school were modernized to comply with more current styles in design. All renovations were completed before the 2010-2011 year, except for the pool area, which was completed during the first quarter of the school year.
Smoky Hill High School is part of the eight-team Centennial League that also includes Cherry Creek, Grandview, Arapahoe, Cherokee Trail, Eaglecrest, Mullen, and Overland high schools.
The Smoky Hill football team was led by coach Bob Hiester in the 1970s and most of the 1980s. Mike Sirko led the program in the early 1990s and Ted Shantz in the late 1990s and early 2000s. John Thompson took over the head job in 2006 as the fourth coach in a five-year span, following Dan Gallas, Steve Carroll and Dennis Frederick. Thompson resigned in December 2012 after seven seasons and a career record of 21–49. Justin Hoffman was named head coach of the Buffs in January 2013.
Smoky Hill has produced numerous league titles as well as final four appearances. In 2009 the coaching job was given to Keenon Clement. With the help of Dexter Turk, they coached their teams to the playoffs in his first two years. The leaders of the 2009-2010 team included junior shooting guard Nico Perry, senior point guard Phil Hill, senior forward Immanuel Hurt, senior guard Julian Hernandez Aguirre, senior point guard Robby Turk and senior forward/guard Marlin Johnson. These five players helped lead the charge as the Buffaloes made their way into the 2010 Colorado 5A State Playoffs.
In the 2009–2010 season under the direction of Coach Jamie Weber, the squad placed first in the Rocky Mountain Spirit Championship, second in the Regional competition, fifth at state and nationals TBA. In the 2007-2008 season under the direction of Coach Lacy Tice and Assistant Coach Julian Hernandez Aguirre the SHHS Pom squad placed first in the regional competition, fourth at state and 18th at nationals. The best the team has ever done at nationals was second place in 2004 under the direction of Coach Jamie Weber.
In 1992, Smoky Hill won its first state championship in any sport, led by head coach Mark Cooper. The Buffaloes defeated Montbello High School in the 6A Track and Field State Championships. With continued success and top-ten performances in the state meet, the Buffaloes pulled off a three-time state championship run during 2003–2005.
The soccer team has won the state championship five times, and earned the state runners-up honor twice. During the 1980s the sport produced several All State All Conference players including Chad Smart, Steve Haynes and Sterling Wescott. Boys' soccer won the 5A Colorado State Soccer Championship in 1999 and 2001 under coach Randy Freeman. This trend continued after coach Danny Windsor took over in 2004. Since that time the Smoky boys have won three more state titles and advanced to the finals in the playoffs two other times. In the 2004 season the boys' varsity soccer team won the class 5A state title game, defeating Grandview High School 2-0 in a blizzard. After losing in the 2005 state championship to Fort Collins in overtime, the boys' soccer team played Fort Collins again, winning the state championship in 2006, avenging the previous year's loss. In the 2007 season, they won their second consecutive state championship, beating Grandview High School with a victory of 3 to 1. In 2010, Kersten Mullan took over the boys' squad and is currently the head coach, assisted by former Smoky Hill player Wes Post as the JV coach. The boys' 2012 team lost the state championship to Boulder High School, earning another state runners-up honor. In 2013, the Buffaloes reached the playoffs, ranked #1 in the state.
The Buffalo cross-country team has usually been in the top tier of state teams since the school's inception. Lance Harter (1974–1978) and Greg Weich (1996–2005) were nationally recognized coaches. In 2004, the girls' team took second in the Nike Team Nationals, and have won four state titles. The boys' best showings at the state meet have been two second-place showings. One was led by Mike Bakker and the other by Brent Vaughn. They placed third in 1980 led by Greg Keith, and again placed third in 2005 behind Grant Duin. There also have been numerous top ten team placements in the state meet over the last forty years.
Smoky won the 2016 RMSIHL league, beating Columbine High School in the finals.
The Lady Buffs volleyball team has competed in the Centennial league since the beginning. With the competition of Creek, Cherokee Trail, Grandview, Eaglecrest, and Mullen, the Buffs have been competing in the top league in the state. In the past 9 years the 5A girls' volleyball Championship has been taken by the centennial league, with Smoky Hill claiming three of these championships. The championship teams were led by Steve Huntingdale, a known coach for Front Range Volleyball who is now coaching at Montana State. After he left the program, Katie Hagen took over for three years.
In 1991, Smoky Hill became the second International Baccalaureate Diploma School established in the state of Colorado.
The International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma Programme (DP) is an educational programme examined in one of three languages (English, French or Spanish) and is a leading university entrance course.
The programme, administered by the International Baccalaureate Organization, is a recognized pre-university educational programme. Students take six subjects, and must also pass three extra requirements, for example Theory of Knowledge (ToK), a 4000-word Extended Essay (EE), and a requirement of at least a total of 150 hours in CAS (Creative, Action, Service).
Smoky Hill boasts its ability to offer one of the newer tests in the International Baccalaureate Programme, Digital Media Studies. 2009 was the first year that students tested in both the Higher Level and Standard Level of the test,and they performed very well.Alison Dunlap (1987), professional mountain biker, two-time Olympian, world mountain bike champion (2001)
Chase Vaughn (2006), football linebacker; played for the Denver Broncos and currently plays for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers of the Canadian Football League