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Education

  • Kids 'Kick Butts'

    Parents may not want their kids “kicking butt,” but Kicking Butts is another matter entirely.
    Kicking Butts is a weeklong event at Los Alamos middle and high schools (March 17–21) aimed at encouraging nicotine-free kids.
    It revolves around the national Kick Butts Day on March 19, sponsored by the United Health Foundation (kickbuttsday.org).
    Bernadette Lauritzen, a prevention specialist with the school system, stresses that despite the name, the campaign not just about cigarettes.
    “Kick Butts may be about cigarette butts, but we’re really trying to encompass an educational piece about the fact that e-cigarettes (electronic cigarettes) are not acceptable from a prevention perspective as well,” Lauritzen said.
    “People will say, ‘I don’t do tobacco.’ E-cigarettes are really still just as terrible a thing to start and are equally as detrimental. So while you’re not smoking and getting all that tar, just the nicotine jolt by itself is not a good thing.”
    In fact, the highlight of the week will be when Robotics Club team member Evan Solms attempts the demolition of an e-cigarette with a robotic unit.

  • Principal search down to 3

    First there were nine, and now there are three. According to Assistant Superintendent Gerry Washburn, the parent-teacher committee as well as the student committee have picked their top three candidates for high school principal. They are: Deborah Belew-Nyquist, Silverdale, Wash.; Callie Jacobs, Woodbury, Minn., and Michael Johnson, currently an assistant principal at Los Alamos High School.
    The candidates will be interviewed for the job again March 24. They will then be interviewed by Superintendent of Schools Dr. Gene Schmidt. That evening, in the high school’s Speech Theater at 6 p.m., each candidate will make a presentation to the public, where they will explain their educational vision and philosophy.
    Residents who are who are still interested in serving on the final parent-teacher selection committee can contact Washburn at g.washburn@lachools.net. If residents would like to submit questions to the panel, you can also submit questions for the panel to ask.
    “The school district encourages everyone to be involved in this process as we select our next high school principal,” Washburn said through a press release.
    In the release, Washburn also included a brief biography of the candidates:

  • School board to consider gun resolution

    After listening to a representative from the New Mexico Citizens for Gun Safety, members of the Los Alamos School Board they will consider adopting and acting on parts, if not all, of the organization’s resolution.
    Resident and active school district volunteer James Langenbrunner gave an impassioned introduction to the resolution last week, imploring the board members to seriously consider their resolution.
    Secretary Matt Williams introduced Langenbrunner to the board as well as explained to the board why the resolution may be relevant to the board’s consideration. He also asked his friend and colleague to stay within the scope of public education when talking about the issue of gun safety.
    “I think it falls under the purview of the board where we have to consider youth, the education of youth, our facilities and much of this falls under that. But we’re also very close to the edge of what really what’s prudent for the board to consider, so I’m going to encourage you to stay within the purview of the board,” he said.
    As far as the schools are concerned, Langenbrunner introduced his resolution as a health and safety issue that directly concerns not only children in New Mexico, but children across the nation.

  • N.M. Teacher of Year Honored

    New Mexico’s Teacher of the Year Carolyn Torres (fourth from right) and Buddy Espinosa (far right), general manager of Beaver Toyota stand by a brand new 2014 Toyota Corolla. Beaver Toyota is paying for a two-year lease for Torres to help her with her travels throughout the state. As New Mexico’s Teacher of the Year, she will be speaking to many organizations throughout the country on her success in the classroom.

  • Board still mum on Schmidt's resignation

    One would think in the wake of the superintendent’s resignation Monday, there’d be some tension at Tuesday night’s Los Alamos School Board meeting.
    However, except for a few grumbles about the media and a request from a resident to the board about the issue, interactions between the superintendent and the board were smooth, cordial and professional as they carried out the people’s business.
    One of the first items on the agenda was picking a new slate of officers, which was completed in about 10 minutes. Judy Bjarke-McKenzie was elected president, Kevin Honnell vice president and Matt Williams was re-elected secretary.
    At the meeting, Jim Hall, as his last act as president, handed a statement to the press regarding his personal opinion on media coverage, what went on during the executive sessions regarding Superintendent of Schools Dr. Gene Schmidt and plans to hire a new superintendent.

  • Schmidt uncertain of future plans

    It was just five years ago Gene Schmidt came to Los Alamos, fresh from his job as superintendent of schools for the Bridgeport School District in Washington State.
    When he officially steps down June 30, he said his future plans may take him somewhere else in New Mexico, or back to Washington. One thing is for sure though, he said he is going to miss being superintendent here. He said he was impressed with the previous administration’s approach to education.
    “I came to this community very impressed with the quality of the education, and that the community valued educating the whole child,” he said. “Art, drama, sports, music and education in general all seemed to have the same importance.”
    He added that he was proud to have added to that legacy, if only if it was for a short time.
    Schmidt said he was particularly proud of the guidance he lent to shepherding in the district’s reconstruction of the district’s seven schools, the most important part of that being getting the public to vote for the release of more than $40 million in bonding so far to aid in the construction. So far, Los Alamos High School (construction bonds that were OKd before Schmidt became superintendent) and Los Alamos Middle School have received redesigns, with Aspen Elementary School now being in the midst of its redesign.

  • LAHS students honored

    A group of LAHS students competed in the regional finals of National History Day in Farmington last Friday and placed either first, second or third in their categories. Now they advance to the state finals on April 25 in Albuquerque. The NHD theme this year is “Rights and Responsibilities in History” and each student team prepares a process paper saying how and why they chose the subject they did, extensive research and an annotated bibliography to support their project of either a Web site, Performance, Essay or Documentary. The top 2 in each category will qualify to go to the national competition in June. Left to right: Dallin Stokes, Anne Scripsick, Devon Conradson, James O’Brien, Breanna Sehorn, Eric Paige, Alex Csanadi, Sopahn Kellogg, Hongjoo Kim, Katie Delgado, Kim Pestovich, Sarah Criscuolo, Kaylen Pocaterra, Grace Kim, Elise Koskelo and Alex Chavarria.

  • Schmidt to step down as school superintendent

    School officials have confirmed that Superintendent of Schools Dr. Gene Schmidt will be resigning at the end of the school year.
    On Monday, Schmidt sent a letter to the Los Alamos School Board informing the members of his intentions and his reasons for doing so.
    Schmidt said he arrived at his decision through past conversations with the board on key issues.
    Though he didn’t care to elaborate on which issues, he said, “I just got a sense it was time to move on. Sometimes you get a feeling you don’t have the full support of the board.”
    Board President Jim Hall said, “Gene has worked about as hard as anybody I’ve ever seen. I think he cares about Los Alamos and the schools, and I really wish him the best.”
    Hall said he had a lot of admiration for Schmidt, saying he became superintendent during a very difficult time in the school district’s history.
    “The cutbacks in state funding, the push by the Public Education Department to improve our schools, he had to deal with a lot of challenges, and I really appreciated his service,” Hall said.

  • Search is on for new LAHS principal

    A committee assigned to select a new high school principal could possibly make a selection by April.
    “By spring break we will be announcing who the next high school principal is,” Superintendent of Schools Dr. Gene Schmidt said.
    The application process closes this Friday, and then they will begin the selection process, Schmidt said.
    “We’ve formed a principal-selection committee that consists mostly of my interoffice team and will feature a screening process that will include students and staff members from the community,” Schmidt said to the Los Alamos School Board at a recent meeting.
    The process will also include two interview panels and a series of community afternoon and evening events where members of the community will be able to meet the candidates in a social setting. There will also be a separate reception hosted by the high school’s student council, where the council’s officers will be able to interview them as well.
    Schmidt also said he welcomed a role for the school board and wanted to hear suggestions from the board about how they could improve the interview/hiring process.

  • Grant gives LA students more options

    The Los Alamos School Board recently made the safety net a little wider for high school grads when it approved a $100,000 amendment to the school budget. The money comes in the form of a grant from the New Mexico Public Education Department.
    According to school officials, the grant will be used to lay the foundation for a curriculum suited for students who don’t necessarily want to go straight to college after high school, but perhaps explore other options, such as a trade or preparation for a career in the military or law enforcement.
    The grant’s official name is “Early College in the High School”, and is sponsored and promoted by Gov. Susana Martinez through a partnership with New Mexico’s business community.
    Superintendent of Schools Dr. Eugene Schmidt said the money will be used to lay the foundation of the program, to buy the equipment and do the planning they need to slowly grow and nurture what they hope will be a permanent asset for the community.