Hawktalkers get funded by school board

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By Tris DeRoma

During its annual retreat session Saturday, where the Los Alamos School Board discussed future projects and set priorities for the upcoming school year, the board officially convened to conduct a piece of crucial business.
The board, with Secretary Matt Williams abstaining, voted to give seed money to the Los Alamos Middle School Hawktalkers, the middle school’s speech and debate team.
The board voted to give the team $7,000. The board also voted to transfer $10,000 to the high school and middle school’s “23,000 Account” to be used by any school club or organization specifically for reserving charter buses just in case a school bus is not available for an upcoming trip.
According to school officials the practice of using charter buses is a common one for all extracurricular activities, especially at the height of the district’s sports and tournament seasons. It’s hoped that having the extra $10,000 in the account no school club or team that regularly uses transportation for regional competition will be without a bus to get it there.
Los Alamos School Board President Judy Bjarke-McKenzie was glad they were able to provide the funding, knowing what it will be used for.
“I just hope they will become successful speakers,” she said. “They talked about how speech making and debate inspires confidence in them, and I just hope this pays off for them.”
The issue was first brought to the attention of the board last week when many of the Hawktalkers, along with their high school counterparts, the Hilltalkers, came to a board meeting and put their skills to work, giving speeches as to why they need the money.
Apparently, their appearance made quite an impression on the board.
“This is exactly what we want to be happening in the Los Alamos Public Schools, exactly, “ said School Board Vice President Kevin Honnell. “...I don’t want to look at those children, because they are going to out talk me, and tell them that ‘no I’m going to keep building up the rainy day fund with lease funds, because building up from $5 million to $6 million is more important.’ I’m going to lose that debate.
“We have a great high school debate team, why shouldn’t we support the middle school debate team. They’ve already made the argument for us.”
The school board vote also included a directive to the school administration to accommodate the other clubs in the school system that are also looking to travel and compete on a regional or perhaps a national stage.
“We’ve been tasked with bringing back a recommendation for a future policy or a protocol on how the district can support clubs and activities that grow the reputation of the district,” said Superintendent Of Schools Gene Schmidt.
In an earlier article about the speech and debate team’s appeal, Sherri Bublitz, their debate and speech coach, said the money, if they get it, is only seed money. She said they are still going to continue their usual fundraising activities they have with the Hilltalkers every year.