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Education

  • Abeyta: Class of 2015 is 'caring,' 'motivated'

    On Saturday morning, the 200-plus graduates that made up Los Alamos High School’s senior class of 2014-15 gathered together in the gym one last time before making that big step toward moving on to bigger challenges and places unknown.
    Guest speakers that included honors graduate Esteban Abeyta, teacher Michelle Holland and LAHS Principal Deborah Belew-Nyquist spoke to the graduates about the challenges that lay ahead for them, as well as the memories and highlights of their four years together at the school.
    Abeyta, who was also the class president for the 2014-15 school year, began by asking his fellow graduates to remember the three, late graduates they had lost along the way.
    “We were blessed to have these wonderful friends, brilliant classmates, these genuinely great individuals in our presence as we grew up here in Los Alamos,” said Abeyta, adding that everyone would do well to remember their “positive energy and their wonderful smiles.”
    On behalf of his graduating class, Abeyta also thanked the teachers and mentors that brought them to this point, adding that it was now up to he and the rest of his classmates to use the lessons they’ve learned and the knowledge they’ve gained to give back.

  • Hawk To Hilltopper

    Los Alamos Middle School may have said their current batch of eighth graders can move on to become Hilltoppers, but it is Los Alamos County Parks and Recreation that makes the crossover official.
    On Friday afternoon, the Class of 2019 we’re anointed with the annual Hawk to Hilltopper graduation party at Urban Park.
    The festivities included a barbeque, bouncy inflatables from Tons of Fun plus the traditional shaving cream extravaganza and hose down from the Los Alamos County Fire Department.
    Master of Ceremonies, Brendan Tuning of Los Alamos County, filled the time with music, volleyball, wall ball and time for the relaxation students needed as the year came to an end.
    The weather held off long enough to squeeze in three hours of inflated fun to decompress a school year filled with enough testing to ensure a smooth transition to high school.
    The event was sponsored by Daniel’s Café and Mary’s Gelato, Coca-Cola Bottling, Tons of Fun, the fire department and Parks and Recreation.
    Tuning and his posse, along with a myriad of community volunteers and programs, moved from the Hawk to Hilltopper event into preparations for Senior Appreciation Night, also coordinated by Tuning, which took place Saturday evening as the Class of 2015 became alumni.

  • Hats Off!

    The newest graduating class of Los Alamos High School tosses its hats into the air to cap off four years of hard work. This year’s ceremony was held Saturday at Griffith Gymnasium. The ceremony was followed Saturday evening by the Senior Appreciation Night event at several spots around Los Alamos County.

  • LAPS says goodbye to LAMS' Kilburn

    When the group of people you work with and for give you a standing ovation for your efforts, you know your time is well spent.
    On Wednesday afternoon a big crowd of parents, students, staff and community members came together to celebrate the efforts of Los Alamos Principal Rex Kilburn and LAMS Registrar Dawn Kilburn, as they end their time with Los Alamos Public Schools.
    Rex Kilburn who has spent 27 years in education, 11 of those in Los Alamos, will be returning to Kotzebue, Alaska, to work for a few more years before formally retiring.
    LAPS Superintendent Kurt Steinhaus, Assistant Superintendent Gerry Washburn and LAMS Assistant Principal Anna Vargas-Gutierrez all spoke fondly of Kilburn as tears filled the eyes of both friends and family.
    “Rex is also genuinely concerned about the well being of all his students and always wanting the best for his staff, students and the community,” said former staff member Claire Swinhoe. “He has a positive, caring approach that is rare in today’s world.”
    Wednesday’s celebration took place in Kelly Hall at the Trinity on the Hill Episcopal Church, where Eskimo Pies and even a Baked Alaska made by parent Rachel Allen were served to the Kilburns’ well-wishers.

  • No big bump in tech grads within state

    ALBUQUERQUE (AP) — New Mexico’s major universities may not be turning out graduates in science and mathematics at a rate fast enough for employers in those fields, according to recent data.
    Both the University of New Mexico and New Mexico State University gave fewer degrees in science, technology, engineering and mathematics — known as STEM subjects — than in liberal arts last fall. Records showed 25 percent of the more than 3,700 bachelor’s degrees UNM conferred in fall 2014 were for STEM, the Albuquerque Journal reported Sunday. It’s reported 28 percent of NMSU’s 1,300 graduates earned STEM degrees around the same time.
    New Mexico employers in science, technology and other related industries say finding qualified workers is a struggle. At the Albuquerque Economic Forum earlier this month, Sandia National Laboratories Director Paul Hommert spoke of his company’s difficulties.
    “Finding STEM-qualified employees — given our hiring requirements — is a challenge,” he said. “It’s a challenge locally and nationally, although we’re pleased with what we’ve been able to achieve in New Mexico.”

  • Johnson will lead LAMS next year

    Los Alamos Public Schools announced last week that Mike Johnson will take over as the principal of Los Alamos Middle School next year.
    Johnson, who has been an assistant principal at Los Alamos High School, will take over for current principal Rex Kilburn, who is moving from the area.
    Johnson has been in school administration for nine years. LAPS credits him with his role in establishing and implementing the Los Alamos Early College and Career Academy, which is designed to create new and opportunities for students to further themselves following high school.
    According to LAPS, Johnson’s first focus areas will include master schedule, staffing and enrollment, opportunities for continuous improvement and professional development for staff.
    Kilburn has been with LAPS for 11 years, serving as LAMS principal for six of those years.
    He will be honored in a ceremony Wednesday afternoon at Trinity on the Hill Episcopal Church. Ceremony time is 4 p.m.
    Kilburn will be moving to Kiana, Alaska, following the school year.

  • Gov. visits Aspen students

    As the governor says, “You can’t win if you don’t read.”
    Gov. Susana Martinez showed up at Aspen Elementary School Friday to tout the state’s summer reading program the “2015 New Mexico True Summer Reading Challenge.”
    New Mexico children ages 5-12 are eligible to participate, from any type of schooling situation, whether that’s public, private, charter or home school.
    Participants in the contest must read 12 books by July 31 as well a write an essay about “Why I Love New Mexico.”
    Students then need to submit their lists. Students with the best essays are eligible for top prizes, which are pretty sweet. Those prizes include a trip to Disney’s Animal Kingdom, a family fun day at the New Mexico State Fair or a balloon ride with Martinez and First Gentleman Franco.
    For more information, log onto readingchallenge.ped.state.nm.us.
    Martinez arrived at the school a little past noon Friday and met up with Aspen Elementary School’s principal, Kathryn Vandenkieboom and students playing outside at recess, where she took “selfies” with the students and talked with them about what they were doing in school.

  • Washburn heads to new job in Oregon

    It could be said Assistant Superintendent Gerry Washburn is Los Alamos.
    He, along with his wife Audrey, raised a family here and ran a small business here. Gerry also worked in the commercial real estate and loans department at the Los Alamos Bank, was the late night shift supervisor at the Los Alamos Detention Center, taught and coached middle school and high school basketball, was a teacher and a principal at Mountain Elementary School, and then became the assistant superintendent and human resources director at Los Alamos Public Schools.
    Audrey became the district’s transportation coordinator.
    Thursday, just days before the Washburns are set to leave for Oregon, members of the community and the district came out to Mountain Elementary School to thank the Washburns for all they’ve done for Los Alamos and its children.
    After more than 30 years of being a part of the community, the Washburns will be leaving for Roseburg, Oregon, where Gerry will start work June 6 as the superintendent of schools.
    Recently, Washburn sat down and talked with the Los Alamos Monitor about where he’s been and where he’s going.

  • Johnson to be new LAMS principal

    New Los Alamos Public Schools superintendent Kurt Steinhaus announced today that Mike Johnson will take over the principal duties at Los Alamos Middle School.
    Johnson has been the assistant principal at Los Alamos High School. He will take over the position at the middle school following the resignation of Rex Kilburn.
    More information will appear soon in the Los Alamos Monitor.

  • Report: Schools' strategy unclear on dealing with teen pregnacy

    SANTA FE (AP) — New Mexico has no clear strategy on how to keep decreasing what is currently the second-highest rate of teens giving birth nationwide, according to a legislative report out this week.
    The Legislative Finance Committee report said inconsistent implementation of comprehensive standards for sex education may be a contributing factor. Public schools are required to instruct students on various ways to prevent pregnancy, but not all of them do, the findings stated.
    Rep. Patricia Lundstrom, D-Gallup, serves on the Legislature's appropriations committee and plays a role in funding state agencies that address teen pregnancy.
    "Year after year, we fund agencies, and it's supposed to be needs-based. But we don't always ask what success looks like," Lundstrom told the Santa Fe New Mexican.
    It appears that even in counties with sold school-based health clinic programs, teen pregnancy seems to occur at a higher rate, Lundstrom said. Some clinic programs offer health screenings and treatment but not contraception, according to health officials.
    "Obviously they're not getting enough support, including referral support," Lundstrom said. "If a school-based program had additional support for referrals to other agencies, I think they'd be much more successful."