• Barranca Elementary roof a wakeup call

    When the roof of Barranca Mesa Elementary School’s gym blew off in May, school officials looked at the incident as a wake-up call. A recent investigation has caused the district and the board to ask some hard questions about building codes and climate change.

    At a recent meeting District Assets manager Joan Ahlers reminded the board that not only has building code changed since most of the roofs in the district were installed (25 to 30 years ago) but so has the weather.

    “With Barranca and Piñon, in light of the most recent wind event we’ve had, the question raised if the roofs were properly installed. The roofs were installed properly, but they were installed over 25 to 30 years ago... However they are no longer up to code so they all probably need to be replaced,” Ahlers said. “...For example, uplift in this part of the country was never really considered very heavily, uplift was only considered in areas of the country that had hurricanes and tornadoes.”

    In recent wind incidents involving roof damage, students were not present. At Barranca, that incident happened on a Wednesday afternoon. Wednesday is a half-day at Barranca.

    After some discussions with the district building superintendent Jeff Sargent, Ahlers noted that at least seven roofs need to be replaced.

  • Top honors

    School volunteer Bernadette Lauritzen was recently awarded a “2013 Excellence for Student Achievement Award” by the New Mexico School Boards Association.
    Lauritzen received a recognition certificate from the Los Alamos School Board for her efforts

  • Middle school may not be ready in time

    It appears the Los Alamos Middle School will not be ready in time when school starts in August.

    The news came through David Wharram, a spokesman for McCarthy Construction.

    “The progress is good, however, the schedule, which was issued in May, is basically a month behind,” he said to the board members at a recent meeting on construction progress.

    That would put the new date of completion at around Sept. 9, and that date does not include obtaining a certificate of occupancy from the county.

    Wharram said they are just now beginning to install the wiring for computers and media and through the media center and to all of the classrooms, a “critical part” he said was supposed to have been completed on May 29.

    “That reflection on progress goes throughout the rest of the building, so you are looking at this schedule being at least three weeks behind,” Wharram added.

    The good news is that the school board and McCarthy Construction, the contractor in charge of the project planned for this back in May, coming up with a plan that would keep most of the middle school’s portable campus in place until the supposed Aug. 8 date of completion, just in case it was looking like the school would not be open by then.

  • UNM-LA to launch mil levy campaign

    On June 19, The University of New Mexico-Los Alamos will kick off the campaign seeking voter support of the mil levy special election on Sept. 17.
    A successful election will afford financial stability and sustainability of programs and services in light of diminishing state funding.
    The two-part event will take place on the UNM-LA campus and will consist of a roundtable discussion with elected officials at 11 a.m. in room 505, Wallace Hall, followed by a public luncheon in the Student Center Café at noon.
    The luncheon, provided by Our Community, Our College, will include video testimonials of students discussing their UNM-LA experiences, followed by a presentation given by Dean of Instruction, Dr. Kate Massengale, who will discuss the reasons why approving the mil levy is important to the community of Los Alamos and surrounding areas.
    Luncheon guests will have the opportunity to ask questions following the presentation. Seating for the luncheon is limited so RSVP by Monday, to Lisa Wismer, 469-1465, lclough@unm.edu.
    For more information about Our Community, Our College, visit ourcommunityourcollege.com.
    Also, UNM-LA and Los Alamos and Los Alamos Public Schools will be working together June 18–20, to properly dispose of hazardous waste generated in their science and art classes.

  • District shows off new middle school

    Though they served the middle school well, it’s probably a sure bet no one is going to miss the portable classrooms.

    When the work at the middle school is finally completed, students will be in for a totally different experience.

    If there could be only be two words used to sum up the new Los Alamos Middle School, it would be “unity” and “efficiency.” From the boiler rooms to the new courtyard, the building has been designed to provide a more cohesive learning experience for students, and a cohesive working environment for teachers and staff.

    One of the more dramatic elements involves the school’s interior which works to keep a group of students with their assigned teachers all day, making for a smooth, uninterrupted learning experience for both the students and teachers.

    “It’s all about building camaraderie, teamwork, being together, less travel time during the day for core classes,” said Middle School Principal Rex Kilburn.

    He said it will be a new experience for everyone, and hopefully a far better one than last school year, when the school was under construction. Though the portable classrooms valiantly served their purpose in educating students, everyone was very spread out.

  • From Hawk to Hilltopper
  • LAHS 2013 class graduates with fanfare

    The 70th annual Los Alamos High School commencement exercises, which took place in Griffith Gymnasium Saturday, were a mixture of cheers, laughter, remembrance, wittiness, and, of course, pop culture references.

    The gym was packed with Hilltopper family and friends, and excitement was in the air as the 2013 graduates and guests, led by fellow graduate Cassidy Reeves, stood up for the NJROTC Color Guards and the national anthem.

    Graduate Naftali Burakovsky introduced the first alumni speaker in the history of LAHS. Dr. Kurt Steinhaus, Director of Community Programs at Los Alamos National Laboratory, charmed his audience with his self-proclaimed “straight talk,” which gave life advice with the help of Kim Kardashian, Oprah Winfrey, Yogi Berra, and Ralph Waldo Emerson quotes.

    Then student speaker Nasim Andrews, introduced by Aaron Roybal, urged her peers to remember the moment and say thank you to those who have helped the students to get to that point. Her speech, “Today We Say Thank You,” encouraged the crowd to view life as “a card signed with love” for all the important people in their lives.

  • Class of 2013

    The Los Alamos High School Class of 2013 donned their caps and gowns and received their diplomas Saturday morning at Griffith Gymnasium. Read more about graduation in Tuesday’s Los Alamos Monitor. 

  • Aspen closed for summer

    A worker from Moving Solutions takes some items out of a portable classroom on the Aspen Elementary School campus, as Herb McLean, Construction coordinator for the district, takes a last look around. The Aspen Elementary Campus will be closed all summer due to construction.

  • District to add after-hours maintenance

    In an effort to be a better landlord to its clients the Los Alamos Public Schools System, the district is looking to hire an on-call, off-hour person to handle maintenance issues. According to school officials, the person they’re looking for would have the skills to handle anything from a clogged toilet to a blackout.

    According to District Assets Manager Joan Ahlers, there have been too many incidents in the last few months where their biggest client, the Los Alamos National Laboratory, has had some rough nights due to a clogged toilet or a blown fuse.

    “We’ve all been working really hard to improve our relationship with the lab,” Ahlers said to the board. She later added that the lab’s noted they get better service from other landlords after 3:30 p.m. “All I’m trying to do is position us so we can be competitive,” Ahlers said.

    What the administration had in mind was a $500 a month stipend to be paid to one of the school’s custodians to be on call after regular operating hours.