• Aspen School gets $3,000 grant

    Students at Aspen Elementary School got an early holiday gift when Wells Fargo Inc. and the Golden Apple Foundation announced the school won a $3,000 grant through the organizations’ “Teacher Partnership” program.
    According to Aspen Elementary School Principal Kathryn Vandenkieboom, Aspen third-grade teacher Alisa Rolfe led the quest to win the grant, and it will be money well spent.
    The school has earmarked the grant for some special reading kits that will help students in grades one through three catch up on their reading skills.
    “These are for when a kid isn’t quite at grade level,” said Vandenkieboom. “The instruction that comes along with this kit is very targeted. You know exactly what part of reading the student is having a hard time with, it might be fluency, it might be comprehension. This kit helps target that instruction.”
    Called Fountas & Pinnell Leveled Literacy Intervention (LLI), the reading kits have been very beneficial to the school’s students, said Vandenkieboom, who became aware of the kits through recommendations from the teachers. With the grant, as well as help from a $1,500 contribution from the Los Alamos Public Schools Foundation, the school will be able to purchase a kit for the third grade.

  • 'Reach' helps students cope

    For many high school students, high school is a fun and exciting time. Often, that time is marked with achievement, self-discovery and coming into one’s own.
    Unfortunately students also discover that those good things sometimes don’t happen without some rejection, failure and disappointments along the way.
    And some of those students become so overwhelmed by that they take their own lives.
    In the past three years, Los Alamos High School and the community at large has lost at least three students to suicide and those same years are marked with many unsuccessful attempts, as well.
    In response, there’s now a program called “Reach Toward Not Away.”
    Reach Toward Not Away was started last year by then Los Alamos High School senior Sophan Kellogg.
    Formed in the wake of the suicides by two Los Alamos seniors, the aim of RTNA was to extend an ever-present lifeline to students needing help getting through a difficult situation. The outreach program accomplished this through specialized apps, pledge drives, phone numbers, and other means of outreach and support.

  • LAPS ranked best school district in state

    This afternoon, Los Alamos Public Schools announced it had been named the top public school district in New Mexico by the U.S. Department of Education.

    Ratings, on a scale of 1-100, were taken from the Education department's Smart Ratings System. Los Alamos scored a 94 on the scale.

    According to the announcement, ratings wre based on math and reading proficiency, state assessment tests and other factors, such as student-teacher ratio.

    Los Alamos was ranked 14th among the top school districts in the nation with its score.

  • Game and parade are on Friday

    It is Homecoming week around Los Alamos High School this week.
    Celebrations will be capped off by the Homecoming football game scheduled for Friday night. The Los Alamos Hilltoppers will take on the Moriarty Pintos at Sullivan Field. Game time is 7 p.m.
    Friday’s game will be preceded by the annual Homecoming parade on Central Avenue. The parade will be at 2:30 p.m.
    To accommodate the parade, Los Alamos Public Schools will be dismissed early. Elementary schools will dismiss at noon Friday, Los Alamos Middle School will dismiss at 12:45 p.m. and Los Alamos High School at 1 p.m.

  • Judge forces issue on N.M. teacher evals

    SANTA FE — On Thursday, Santa Fe First Judicial District Court Judge David Thomson put the fight between unions and the New Mexico Public Education Department’s over the teacher evaluation process on a very fast track.
    In February, the American Federation of Teachers New Mexico, the Albuquerque Federation of Teachers and several individuals filed a lawsuit against the New Mexico Public Education Department and the New Mexico Secretary of Education Hanna Skandera.
    The plaintiffs called the new teacher evaluation process “flawed” and a violation of a teacher’s constitutional rights.
    A request for a preliminary injunction was filed three months later by the plaintiffs in an effort to halt the evaluation process, saying that it was already doing “irreparable harm” to thousands of teachers across New Mexico.
    Thursday, Thomson heard from both sides on why he should, or should not, file a preliminary injunction.

  • Music rooms at LAHS need TLC

    If you’re a longtime Los Alamos resident and you happen to revisit the high school’s “music wing,” where all the music classes take place, chances are you’d instantly recognize it.
    That’s because according to some of the faculty, not much has changed there in the past 60 years.
    As the Los Alamos School Board makes preparations to bond for more school reconstruction projects, members from the Los Alamos High School’s music faculty reminded the board of that.
    The high school was the first school Los Alamos residents approved for reconstruction, which started in 2009.
    However one section of the school, where most of the school’s bands, symphonies and choral groups are headquartered, along with the group’s equipment, was skipped for reconstruction for a later time.
    Jason Rutledge, the high school’s choir director came to a recent board meeting to remind the board that that time has come.
    He told the board that problems caused by 60 years of wear and tear, along with a growing student population, have over have only gotten worse. He told the board the entire wing should be included for funding when it comes time for the district’s next general obligation bond vote.

  • Bluecoat system approved for LAPS

    At a recent meeting, the Los Alamos School Board was reminded once again that Los Alamos is not just another small town in New Mexico.
    Unlike other towns, it’s also home to a historically famous, top-secret facility focused on nuclear weapons design and research.
    As a result, statistically, there’s more of a chance that Los Alamos employees, as well as members of their own families, can and do become targets of computer hacks and breaches.
    At the meeting, district officials asked the board to sign a contract for a new “content filtering system” the district wants to purchase, a system that will hopefully keep students’ school online activities safe, private and secure while they are at school.
    According to the district’s Chief Operations Officer, Joanie Ahlers, it was time to make the switch to a more powerful system.
    “Just because our name is Los Alamos Public Schools, we do receive a large number of outside attacks, including those from foreign countries. We felt that from a security standpoint and considering who the parents are to some of our students, we felt compelled to choose an appliance that can do a number of advanced things than just be a basic filter,” she said to the board.

  • LA students among state’s winners

    A trio of Los Alamos Public Schools students were among the winners of the Gov. Susana Martinez’s True Summer Reading Challenge and were recognized in a ceremony at Piñon Elementary School Monday.
    Among those honored were Bryanna Trujillo, a first grader from Barranca Mesa, Rocco Del Mauro, a second grader from Piñon, and Benjamin Sanchez, a third grader from Aspen.
    Martinez paid a visit to Piñon Monday afternoon, one of two stops she made to announce the winners of the challenge.
    The New Mexico True Summer Reading Challenge was designed to encourage school-aged kids in the state to read during the summer months. The emphasis was on keeping students sharp during the summer when they might otherwise be in front of the television.
    “Knowing how to read is the very foundation of learning,” Martinez said in a statement announcing the winners Monday. “Once our kids learn to read, they read to learn. And that is a skill they will need for the rest of their lives.”
    To enter, students must have submitted a log of the books they read over the summer. Those who read at least 12 books and submitted an essay on why they love New Mexico were entered in a random drawing to win one of several nifty prizes given away by the state.

  • Sanchez: ‘Read to Lead’ is beneficial

    When Lt. Gov. John Sanchez visited Chamisa Elementary School recently, he brought gifts. A lot of them.
    Sanchez and his aides brought stacks and stacks of “B is for Buckaroo,” an alphabet book by Gleaves and Louise Doak Whitney designed for readers kindergarten through third grade.
    The visit coincides with state’s “Read to Lead” initiative, a program Gov. Susana Martinez started in 2012 in an effort to promote literacy.
    Throughout 2015, the governor, as well as the lieutenant governor will be making stops throughout the state, handing out the book to eager students and hopefully igniting a love for reading in the students that will last a lifetime.
    “We can’t think of a better investment that the state can make not only in our kids but our teachers, too,” Sanchez said. “If a child learns how to read then they can keep on learning their entire life. It’s the greatest gift we can give them.”
    During his visit, Sanchez read the entire book to Chamisa’s first, second and third graders before giving them their own copy.
    He also shared with the students his own love of reading and why reading is so important.

  • LAPS says it conducts proper background checks

    Los Alamos Public School Superintendent Kurt Steinhaus issued a statement about the background checks for the district’s employees just hours after the state ordered an immediate check for districts’ compliance to state standards.
    In the statement released Wednesday, Steinhaus let the community know LAPS conducts background searches on each of its new applicants and makes those wishing to work for the district sign a statement authorizing such a check.
    “When a person is hired by LAPS, the standard intake process includes submitting fingerprints through the criminal background check system called 3M Cogent,” Steinhaus said in the release.
    Tuesday, Gov. Susana Martinez ordered compliance investigators with the state’s Public Education Department to conduct immediate reviews of background check policies for each of the state’s 89 public school districts.
    Martinez’s order came on the heels of the discovery that Albuquerque Public Schools’ instruction and technology supervisor, Jason Martinez, had been brought up on child sex abuse and domestic violence charges in the state of Colorado, according to the Associated Press.
    The governor and the accused APS official are not related.