• Reactions come from all sides in drug forum

    If there was anyone in the audience thinking it, by the time Los Alamos Police Chief Dino Sgambellone and others were through updating the public with some uncomfortable truths about illegal drug use in Los Alamos County, no longer could they say “not my child.”
    As reported in the Los Alamos Monitor Sunday, a public forum about drug use in Los Alamos County proved to be quite illuminating –– and shocking.
    According to stats presented at the meeting, in Los Alamos County alone there were 13 fatal drug overdoses since 2008. As also reported in the Los Alamos Monitor, there were calls from audience members for the schools, where kids spend most of their time, to do more, such as introduce random drug testing as well as drug-sniffing dogs into the schools.
    Linda Pena, a probation officer with the Los Alamos court system at one point interjected, saying that the drug abuse problem was everyone’s responsibility and everyone’s problem, not just the school’s.

  • Letter warns parents about enterovirus

    Call it a sign of the times: the Los Alamos Public Schools recently sent a letter home to parents about a strain of enterovirus that recently showed up in New Mexico.
    According to the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention, enterovirus infects the respiratory system, and it mostly shows up in children or the elderly or anyone with a compromised immune system.
    Mild symptoms include coughing, body and muscle aches, runny nose, sneezing and fever. Severe symptoms include breathing difficulty and wheezing.
    The particular strain the CDC is concentrating on this year is “EV-D68,” a non-polio strain that nonetheless has already infected 938 people in 46 states and has killed at least three. People that have asthma are especially vulnerable to the disease.
    In the school district’s letter, Nursing Team Leader Michele Wright encouraged parents to get their children vaccinated against the disease.
    She also said the school system is also taking added precautions to prevent an outbreak in the schools.

  • Math contests set for November

    The University of New Mexico, Department of Mathematics and Statistics, and the PNM Foundation have announced the UNM-PNM Statewide Mathematics Contest for the 2014-2015 school year. The goal of the contest is to promote mathematical investigation, enhance problem-solving skills, and recognize and honor outstanding mathematics achievement among students in New Mexico.
    The contest is open to all students in grades 7-12 as well as students in lower grades who are taking a high school level math class. Students younger than 7th grade that wish to compete will be placed in the 7th-8th grade category. All other students will compete with students in their grade level category. The following are the grade level categories: 7th-8th grade, 9th grade, 10th grade, 11th grade, and 12th grade.
    The contest is administered in two rounds. Round I may be administered any time Nov 7-10. After the exams are graded, the top 200 finalists are invited to UNM on Saturday, February 7, 2015, to compete in Round II.

  • Superheroes invade Mountain Elementary

    Mountain Elementary Principal Jennifer Guy dressed on the schools “Superhero Day” as Batman. Last week the students got to come to school dressed as their favorite superhero.

  • Piñon Carnival

    Piñon Elementary had their Halloween pumpkin patch on Saturday. Activities included a hay maze, bouncy house and slide, face and fingernail painting, a number of games, arts and crafts from Chamisa Elementary and a cake walk.

  • LAPS board picks recruiter

    It’s “all systems go” for the Los Alamos School Board, as it has found the engine behind its search for a new superintendent. The board recently met to discuss its top five picks for the group, which will help recruit the new superintendent.
    By the time the meeting was over, the board picked Ray and Associates, an executive recruiting firm based in Cedar Rapids Iowa.
    “With Ray, they look like they are going to leave it to what we want, and they will work with us,” said Judy Bjarke-McKenzie, the school board’s president to her fellow board members. “They don’t have a cookie cutter approach, they look like they’re pretty flexible.”
    Board secretary Matt Williams agreed with Bjarke-McKenzie’s choice, and like her, also picked HYA as a second.
    The board seemed to be looking for firms that were willing to go that extra mile, dig deep, and really listen to what the board and the community wanted in a candidate, as it outlined in the search plan. Firms that sent them standard paperwork and forms to fill out quickly fell by the wayside.

  • Higdon earns top state teaching honor

    Lynne Higdon, the physical education teacher from Barranca Elementary School, was named the 2014 New Mexico Elementary Physical Education Teacher of the Year. The announcement was recently made at the State P.E. Conference at Albuquerque.
     Higdon has served as the P.E. teacher at Barranca for the past 10 years. Higdon is well respected for her comprehensive physical education program that introduces students to a wide array of activities. She is also credited for extending physical activities by hosting community events such as an outside games day for families, family hikes in the Jemez and a family golf outing.
    Among writing supportive letters for Higdon’s nomination for the award was Pam Miller, director of curriculum and instruction, who described Higdon as a “conscientious individual who works hard to make sure that students complete every task to the best of their ability.”
     Miller wrote, “Ms. Higdon uses her enthusiasm and experience to ignite students’ eagerness to participate in class.”

  • Emergency crews find no gas leak at high school

    Emergency crews were dispatched to Los Alamos High School this morning with a report of a possible gas leak. The school was evacuated and students stayed outside as DPU and LAFD crews investigated. They did not find anything and students, teachers and other personnel were let back into the school about 8:30 a.m. A release from the county at 8:30 a.m. said, “LAFD reports no gas leak found, buildings have been turned back over to schools and teens entering now.” A later release from the county at 10 a.m. said, “crews responded because of reports of a smell of gas, but, there wasn’t a gas leak discovered. Students were not in danger.” 

  • School district receives $250K

    A late, well-known Los Alamos physician recently left 250,000 reasons for high school graduates who are struggling economically to keep going onward and upward.
    Dr. Zenas “Slim” Boone, who died about a year ago, left a $250,000 trust fund in the name of his late wife, Irene U. Boone, to the Los Alamos Public Schools. Irene was also a doctor, a well-known pediatrician in Los Alamos for many years.
    “We want to express our gratitude to the Boone Family and their appreciation for the value of education,” Superintendent of Schools Gene Schmidt said.
    “The opportunity this will present for the future graduates of Los Alamos, especially needy graduates, makes this an incredibly generous gift. It speaks well of the Boone’s belief in these students, that they would want to help them along.”
    At a recent school board meeting, Schmidt presented the offer to the board, who by law, must approve all such gifts that are more than $5,000.
    The board readily accepted the offer, and had a discussion on how to best carry out the Boone’s wishes of providing an annual graduation scholarship to deserving high school students.

  • Renovated Aspen almost ready

    If all goes to plan, students will be moved and settled in at the new Aspen Elementary School on Nov. 12.
    According to site project coordinator David Wharram, the school is about ready for occupancy.
    At a recent school board meeting, Wharram noted that already, carpet is being laid in key areas of the school, including the administration area.
    “Carpet is a good sign on a construction site. When the carpet goes in, that’s a sign that there will be no more dirty work going on in that area,” he said at a recent meeting to the board.
    Currently, the students are attending school in a campus of portable buildings next to where the school is being rebuilt on 33rd Street. Move-in day for the teachers and staff will take place over a three day period at the beginning of November, with the moving period beginning Nov. 6. and continuing through Monday. Doors will officially open Nov. 12. (Veteran’s Day is Nov. 11).
    School principal Kathryn Vandenkieboom is in the process of arranging daycare for parents who need it through the Los Alamos YMCA for Nov. 6, 7 and 10 when the move is taking place.