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Education

  • Residents: keep schools open

    As decision time gets closer and closer about where to apply the next bond funding for school reconstruction, an information session was recently held in White Rock to address some rumors about what may happen to White Rock’s two elementary schools, Piñon and Chamisa.
    With Los Alamos School Board Vice President Matt Williams presiding, residents wanted to know if the school board was going to close one of the schools due to declining enrollment, or perhaps consolidate the two schools into one for the same reason.
    The answer, for now at least, is neither.
    Williams did most of the talking at the session, which was held inside the Chamisa Elementary School’s gymnasium.
    The first thing he did was help the audience members catch up by letting them know what the board was doing in the past months. Using information from three major sources, which included the board’s 20-Year Facilities Plan, budget figures, and other documents, Williams briefed audience members on what the present situation is in regards to both schools and how the board and the district arrived at those figures.

  • Letting the Music Play

    Local resident Debra Minyard (center) was formally recognized by the New Mexico Public Education Department Thursday evening at the University of New Mexico. Those in attendance included Secretary of Education Hanna Skandera (far right) and State representative Stephanie Garcia Richard (fourth from left). Additional supporters were husband Joshua, students, friends and co-workers from Pojoaque Valley High School, where Minyard is a music educator. She heads to Washington, D.C. this weekend to meet President Barack Obama.

  • Wharram got much done at LAPS

    At a regular school board meeting in February, the members of the old school board, which included Judy Bjarke-McKenzie, Kevin Honnell and Nan Holmes, as well as current members Matt Williams and Jim Hall said goodbye to an old friend.
    Those former members took part in one last official act, congratulating one of their unsung heroes off to other challenges.
    David Wharram, the construction manager the board hired several years ago through Gerald Martin Ltd. to oversee over $40 million in construction on three schools, was officially dismissed from his role as construction manager.
    Even though it was his job, board members at the meeting said they admired how Wharram through his years of school rebuilds unflinchingly delivered the good, the bad, and the ugly with his often lengthy updates of each construction project.
    Whether it was about unexpected financial windfalls, missed deadlines, or accidents, Wharram was known for treating each report with a “just the facts” type of attitude which allowed the board to make the informed decisions it had to make to keep things on track without being distracted by a lot of drama.
    Board members said Wharram’s no-nonsense style was also crucial to the school board since the projects were primarily funded by taxpayer money, as well as approved by taxpayers through ballot.

  • School board recognizes Schmidt

    At Tuesday’s Los Alamos School Board meeting, the board honored outgoing superintendent Gene Schmidt for his service to the community.
    Schmidt received a plaque for his efforts.
    “Los Alamos Public Schools recognizes Dr. Gene Schmidt for his dedication to the quality of education as superintendent of schools from 2009 to 2015,” read an inscription on the plaque.
    After accepting his award, Schmidt, in turn, honored his colleagues and staff that helped him carry out the programs and goals he implemented during his time as superintendent at Los Alamos Public Schools. He also acknowledged his successor, Kurt Steinhaus.
    “Anything that’s accomplished, is accomplished in partnership,” Schmidt said. “These are wonderful colleagues and as Dr. Steinhaus takes over, he can look forward to working with a wonderful board. I applaud the boards that I’ve worked with, and I also applaud all of the staff and administrators. These things don’t happen without the dedication and excellence our educators and staff have given.”

  • Phi Beta Kappa banquet set

    On April 26, the Los Alamos Phi Beta Kappa Association will hold its 59th annual banquet to honor the top graduates of Los Alamos High School.
    Phi Beta Kappa is the oldest undergraduate honor society in the United States and has about 230 members in Los Alamos County.
    The banquet for the honor graduates, Phi Beta Kappa Members, and their guests will be held at Fuller Lodge in Los Alamos starting at 5:30 p.m. and catered by The Blue Window.
    The 52 students of the Class of 2015 who will be honored this year are Esteban Abeyta, Brianna Bayardo, Daniel Ben-Naim, Jyelyn Bold, Melanie Borup, Sarah Bouquin, Chelsea Challacombe, Gerald Collom, Sarah Criscuolo, Caitlin Dahl, Sudeep Dasari, Eleanor Devlin, Jenna Erickson, Morgan Ferry, Sally Grindstaff, Thomas Hanlon, Astrid Hengartner, Jacob Holesinger, Luke Kachelmeier, Chloe Keilers, Everett Key, Dakota Klasky, Erin Kober, Felicity Kubic, Megan Kuzmack, Madeleine le Scouarnec, Amber Logan, Helen Lu, Gianna Maggiore, Aletta Marciano, Katharine Margevicius, David Murphy, Alexi Ortega, Eric Paige, Michelle Pederson, Kimberly Pestovich, Emma Phillips, Benjamin Reichelt, Emily Rybarcyk, Alice Shao, Samuel Sherrill, Rachel Sledzik, Sara Stubben, Alexander Swart, Vincent Tang, Zoe Tauxe, Matthew Ticknor, Nicholas Torres, Ashvini Vaidya, Sarah Wallstrom, Daniel Wang and William Zhao.

  • Schmidt accepts new post in Farmington

    Los Alamos Public Schools superintendent Gene Schmidt has a new job, but he won’t have a lot of time to celebrate his acquiring it.
    Schmidt, who is stepping down from his position at LAPS, is taking the superintendent’s job at Farmington Public Schools.
    Farmington, which is in the Four Corners area, is one of the larger school districts in the state, with roughly 11,000 students and 1,200 staff members in 17 separate schools.
    Schmidt, who was stepping away from his position with LAPS following the end of this academic year, applied for the job at Farmington two weeks ago. He said the process was accelerated at Farmington because of the impending retirement of Janel Ryan, the longtime superintendent, who made that announcement in December.
    Schmidt said he’s looking forward to the challenge.
    “The attraction is more than just a person telling good stories about a school system. It’s about a school system in transition. They’re looking for leadership that would help move them forward in, I’ll call it an ‘excellent journey.’ Right now, Farmington has a number of their schools, by definition, are failing. A number of schools are ‘Ds.’ That is a leadership experience that I’ve had before.”

  • Schmidt taking job in Farmington

    Los Alamos Public Schools Superintendent Gene Schmidt said today he has signed a letter of intent to take over as superintendent of the Farmington Public Schools.
    Schmidt signed the Letter of Intent Thursday evening. Schmidt will be stepping down from Los Alamos Public Schools following this academic year.
    More information will be in Sunday's Los Alamos Monitor.

  • LAHS grad earns major scholarship

    Los Alamos High School graduate Anna Scott was named a recipient of this year’s Barry Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Foundation scholarship.
    Scott, who is currently majoring in chemistry at Montana State University, graduated from LAHS in 2013. According to her profile, Scott is working toward a Ph.D. in bioinorganic chemistry and wants to conduct research at the university level studying the interface of biochemistry and inorganic chemistry.
    Scott’s Goldwater Scholarship recipient announcement was made this morning via tweet by Los Alamos National Laboratory.
    To be considered, students must display academic merit in mathematics, science or engineering and nominated by faculties of universities.
    In all, 260 scholars were honored and almost all of them intend to earn Ph.Ds.
    The one and two year scholarships will cover the cost of tuition, fees, books and room and board up to a maximum of $7,500 per year.
    The Goldwater Foundation is a federally endowed agency and the Scholarship Program honors former senator and presidential candidate Barry Goldwater. It was designed to foster and encourage outstanding students to pursue careers in the fields of mathematics, the natural sciences and engineering.

  • Supers want smooth transition

    During a special meeting last week, the Los Alamos School Board officially approved Kurt Steinhaus’s new contract, officially making him the next superintendent.
    According to the board, Steinhaus will officially assume the job May 4.
    Shortly after the vote, Gene Schmidt, the current Superintendent of Schools, and Steinhaus talked to the audience about how the transition will play out.
    “Dr. Steinhaus and I have a very strong working relationship that goes back over six years, so we anticipate a smooth and seamless transition,” Schmidt said at the school board meeting.
    Schmidt went on to say that he’s included Steinhaus in a variety of meetings already.
    “He knows he’s welcome to shadow any type of activity,” Schmidt said, adding that Steinhaus recently attended a Parent Advisory Council meeting, as well as having meetings with the staff and principals of the district’s seven schools.

  • Deep Trouble

    It wasn’t the most pleasant way to spend a Monday morning, but Superintendent of Schools Gene Schmidt (far right) stopped by Mountain Elementary to get updated on the school’s plumbing problem from Los Alamos Public School’s Chief Plumber Mike Herrera. Tree roots, according to Herrera, damaged and blocked the school’s plumbing. The problem was discovered over the weekend, and the school was closed all day Monday so county work crews could fix the problem. School was able to resume today.