The excitement was palpable as the third-, fourth- and fifth-graders filled the gym at High Plains Elementary on Nov. 21. The students were looking forward to a special surprise during the first Hawk Assembly of the school year.
The fun started with the students proudly singing the High Plains High 5 Chant, under the direction of music teacher Dallas Merrihew.
“I’ll be the best that I can be. You will know you can count on me. To be a friend and do what’s right. A “High 5” student is out of sight!”
The anticipation grew as Principal Derek Mullner announced the names of 12 students who were selected by their teachers as “Soaring Hawk” award winners for their outstanding academic effort or progress. They were followed by 12 more students who were nominated by their peers for the “Caring Hawk” award, which recognizes students who consistently demonstrate caring behavior toward others.
The assembly then took a serious turn, as Mullner talked with the students about the staff’s commitment to each and every one of them.
“Our vision at High Plains is every child, every day,” Mullner said. “We want to make sure that each and every one of you can come to school every day and learn in a safe environment with teachers and friends who care about you and where you have all the resources you need to be ready for success at Campus Middle School and Cherry Creek High School.”
Mullner shared a video, called "Who's Your One?" made by students at Antelope Ridge Elementary. The video demonstrates how students can fight bullying and build acceptance by reaching out to just one other student who may be in need. Mullner then challenged High Plains students to “find their one” and make a positive difference in the life of another student.
Finally, it was time for the special surprise. Students and staff alike gasped and cheered as the stage doors opened to unveil a beautiful mural showing a Colorado high plains meadow and the High Plains logo. It was designed and painted during the summer by art teacher Brooks Mullen. She said the mural represents the beauty of Colorado and of High Plains Elementary.
“The learning environment established here by teachers and staff, along with pride for our learning, is very prevalent at our school,” Mullen said. “Principal Mullner made beautifying our stage a priority, which says a lot about the positive feel at High Plains. It supports the guiding principle that it really is all about our students: every child, every day. I’m proud of the environment our students get to learn in and we get to teach in every day, and I hope the mural adds to that.”