Smoky Hill principal recognized as Colorado high school principal of the year


AURORA | Smoky Hill High School principal Chuck Puga was named high school principal of the year by the Colorado Association of School Executives.

Puga was chosen out of more than 1,100 nominees in 2020 but never got a ceremony because of the pandemic, according to a news release from the Cherry Creek School District. On Thursday, he was finally honored in a surprise award ceremony in the Smoky Hill cafeteria.

Puga has been principal at Smoky Hill for five years. He previously worked in Douglas County, according to the association. Puga was recognized for his work fostering an inclusive school culture at Smoky Hill and helping to empower students, the release said. That included letting students rewrite the dress code and helping create a student-led diversity leadership team.

“I’ve always believed that to do this job right, you have to put people and relationships first,” he said in a released statement. “Once you get those pieces right, the sky is the limit.”

At the ceremony, students spoke about what made him special. Student Body President Elishevlyne Eliason said he was integral to bringing a sense of normalcy to the school year, according to Cherry Creek.

“You never fail to bring a sense of community to the school,” she said.