• 'Summer school' not what it used to be

    Here’s a sentence describing one of the classes in “The Summer Program for Younger Students,” a special curriculum created by the University of New Mexico-Los Alamos.

    “Launch a rocket on the last day of class.”

    They’re talking about model rockets, but still, who wouldn’t want to sign up for that? Other courses in the program promise that students will get to learn about fire, fossils, robots, how to solve real life mysteries, program a computer, even train a dog.

    It’s these types of learning experiences that have kept the youth of Los Alamos coming back to the “Summer Program for Younger Students” for the past 20 years.

  • District fetes retirees

    Colleagues and family saw a number of their peers off to retirement last Thursday, as the Los Alamos Public School District hosted a retirement party for 17 employees at Fuller Lodge.

    They included David Buckland, high school teacher; Paula Dean, assistant superintendent, Mary Jo Fischer, middle school teacher; Ernestina Garcia, instructional assistant at Aspen Elementary; Mary Kathleen Kelly, teacher at Chamisa Elementary; Elizabeth Kulka, teacher at Barranca Elementary; Loree Lynch, secretary; Marie D. Martinez, teacher at the middle school; Maxine Marrufo, custodian; Ruth McNiff, teacher at Barranca Elementary; Debbie O’Dean, a counselor at Aspen Elementary; Mary Plotner, teacher at Mountain Elementary, Ann Revelle, records specialist with student services; Carol Schoenberg, teacher at the high school; Margaret Sheridan, teacher at Aspen Elementary, Linda Valenti, social worker with student services and Barbara Wrobleski-Mullis, teacher at the middle school.

    “If I could add up the number of years and then quadruple it, that would probably be the number of students this group has impacted through the years,” Superintendent of Schools Dr. Gene Schmidt said at the retirement ceremony.

    In one of her last speeches as assistant superintendent, Dean gave a big thank you to the audience.

  • UNM-LA celebrates graduation

    There was a real feeling of emotion, optimism and hope in the air.

    Soon-to-be holders of doctorate degrees, master degrees, bachelors degrees, associate degrees and general education development diplomas from UNM-LA met up with each other at the Crossroads Bible Church for their graduation ceremony Wednesday evening.

    They were congratulating each other like old friends on their academic accomplishments before the ceremony began.

    Within two hours, UNM-LA’s 32nd annual graduation ceremony would be over and 78 degree holders would be going off into the world to either build on what they’ve accomplished by enrolling in another degree program or finding a job.

    Dr. Cedric Page, UNM-LA’s executive director, started the ceremony off by welcoming the graduates, their family and friends to the occasion as well as the event’s special guests, faculty and speakers, including convocation speaker Kathy Keith.

    Keith, whose professional specialty is economic development, is the executive director of the Regional Development Corporation, a non-profit organization that promotes jobs in Northern New Mexico. It also partners with UNM-LA to help students find jobs through the organization’s “Accelerate” Program.

  • Former Gov. Garrey Carruthers named NMSU president

    LAS CRUCES, N.M. (AP) — Former Republican Gov. Garrey Carruthers has been named New Mexico State University's new president.

    The NMSU Board of Regents voted Monday 3-2 in favor of Carruthers to lead the state's second-largest four-year university.

    Carruthers has been dean of NMSU's College of Business since 2003. He was governor from 1987 to 1990.

    Other finalists were former Texas Tech University president Guy Bailey, former University of Nevada, Las Vegas president David Ashley, former Texas A&M University president Elsa Murano and University of Colorado Denver Dean Daniel Howard.

    Barbara Couture resigned as NMSU president last fall without explanation after fewer than three years in the job. Former University of Missouri system president Manuel Pacheco has been serving as interim president.

    NMSU's main campus has an enrollment of more than 17,000 students.

  • Los Alamos schools climb in national ranking

    Los Alamos High School made a significant leap in a national poll recently when it was revealed the school went up more than 80 spots in U.S. News and World Report’s ‘Best High Schools’ rankings list.

    In 2012, the school was ranked 638. In this year’s poll, the school is at 556, advancing 82 places since last year’s poll.

    The poll, with help from the American Institutes for Research, analyzed three main factors in 21,035 U.S. high schools.

    The first factor examined whether the school’s students were performing better in reading and math than average for students in their state.

    Then they factored in the school’s percentage of “economically-disadvantaged” students, and whether or not they were performing at a better-than-average rate.

    For schools that passed those two tests, the schools were then judged on how many “advanced placement” (college level) courses it provides, the variety of courses, how many students in the school are signing up for them and how many are getting a passing grade.

    It’s this factor that Superintendent of Schools Dr. Gene Schmidt said was a determining factor in the school’s advancement in the rankings this year.

  • College to christen renovated library

    Northern New Mexico College will celebrate the grand opening and dedication of its newly renovated Ben Luján Library Thursday.
    The public celebration kicks off at 9:45 a.m. with tours of the library and a presentation of Oliver Greer’s Extraordinary Bug Exhibit. The college’s Digital Media department will also be hosting Bug Movies, a workshop where visitors can star in mini films in Northern’s television station studio.
    The formal dedication ceremony will begin at 10:30 a.m. with a welcome by Northern President Nancy “Rusty” Barceló. The late Speaker Luján’s family, including his son, Congressman Ben Ray Luján, will be present to acknowledge the support and resources that the late Speaker brought to the institution and northern New Mexico.
    The renovations added 7,000 square feet to the library, doubling the size of the original facility. The space includes a new computer lab, study pods, and student meeting rooms.
    Following the dedication, the college will host a luncheon in the Connie Valdez quad, just north of the Luján library.

  • Tuition to increase 14 percent for NNMC students

    ESPANOLA, N.M. (AP) — Students at Northern New Mexico College are set to see their tuition go up 14 percent.

    The Board of Regents on Monday adopted last minute changes to the school's budget that included the hike, but set aside plans to increase faculty salaries. The increase means tuition will stand at nearly $1,400 for a student taking 12 credits. Students also can expect about a $35 increase in fees.

    The Albuquerque Journal reports board president Michael Branch said he couldn't justify the salary increase in light of the tuition hike.

    The board also opted to keep a daycare center and a community kitchen, which were on the chopping block as cost-cutting measures. The panel did approve 2.5 percent budget cuts across all departments as it deals with cash reserves that one school executive described as "dangerously low."

  • Barceló moves NNMC forward

    President Nancy “Rusty” Barceló’s vision for Northern New Mexico College is guided by both NNMC’s history and her own.
    In 1909, the New Mexico Territorial Legislature created the institution as the Spanish American Normal School with a primary function of training teachers for the state’s Spanish-speaking population. It was one of 10 educational institutions named in the state’s 1912 constitution.
    “It was established through a constitutional act that said that it would serve the Spanish-speaking populations of Northern New Mexico, which makes us historically the first Spanish-serving institution in the United States that was legally mandated to serve these populations,” Barceló said. “I think that’s a historical fact that is important to the State of New Mexico, and I’m trying to build upon that.”
    The fact that 82 percent of the student population is Hispanic and 12 percent are American Indian is especially significant to Barceló.
    “So I say to myself, what does that mean to us educationally? We should probably be in the vanguard of how to do multi-cultural education because of these populations.”
    Barceló created an Office of Equity and Diversity to accomplish that goal.

  • Barcelo's plans for NNMC include LA

    Northern New Mexico College President Nancy “Rusty” Barceló has accomplished an amazing amount in a little less than three years. But her vision for the college expands far beyond her accomplishments so far.

    Barceló quickly led NNMC to fiscal recovery, completing four audits in a 10-month period while she began an academic restructuring of the institution. She added four new colleges to the existing College of Education: Professional Studies, Arts and Sciences, Nursing and Health Sciences and Community, Workforce, and Career Technical Education.

    Los Alamos National Laboratory provided substantial funding toward the development of an accredited baccalaureate degree program in nursing. The engineering department is currently working on accreditation.

    Many of Barceló’s plans involve outreach to communities such as Los Alamos. Given how many people from Española work in Los Alamos, Barceló sees a natural connection between the two communities.

    “There is this corridor, so to speak, where I think it’s in the best interest of our own community that we develop these important partnerships,” Barceló said.

  • La Cueva High team takes top award in 23rd Supercomputing Challenge

    A trio of Albuquerque La Cueva High School students – two who are siblings – took the prize in the 23rd New Mexico Supercomputing Challenge for their research project that used statistical analysis to identify and analyze topics in human language.

    The team, Ari Echt-Wilson, Eli Echt-Wilson, and Justin Sanchez also won the CHECS Teamwork and Cray High Performance Computing awards for their project, “Learning and Analyzing Topics in Human Language.”

    Los Alamos High School freshman Cole Kendrick took second place for his computer simulation project of Saturn’s ring structure. Kendrick, who won the New Mexico Supercomputing Challenge’s top prize in 2011 as a seventh-grade student, also received the Technical Poster Award, the Visualization prize from New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology, and the Professional Presentation Award.

    La Cueva High’s Alexandra Porter received third place for her project “Simulation of Approximate Computing Applied to Numerical Methods.” Porter was part of a La Cueva High team that took last year’s third prize.

    All the finalist teams received plaques for their school, a large banner suitable for hanging at their schools and other gifts.