A round of applause at the Roundhouse

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By Alexandra Hehlen and Owen Bradbury Aranda


On Tuesday, Feb. 4, a group of Advanced Placement course students from Los Alamos High School visited the Capitol Building in Santa Fe to receive the College Board’s AP District Honor Roll Award. 

According to the CollegeBoard, the award was given to 477 districts across the nation and Canada for schools that increased “access to AP®course work while simultaneously maintaining or increasing the percentage of students earning scores of 3 or higher on AP Exams.” 

LAHS is the first school in the history of New Mexico to receive this award. 

For the 10 faculty members and 22 students that went on the trip, the day began with an awards’ ceremony held in the State Capitol’s rotunda. 

Los Alamos county representatives and New Mexico Senators Richard C. Martinez and Carlos R. Cisneros presented the awards to the LAHS group each with a speech and some words of knowledge about the importance of education.

LAHS Principal Sandra Warnock and Los Alamos Public Schools Superintendent Eugene Schmidt also spoke. 

“You are our nation’s best,” Schmidt said to the audience of LAHS students, “and we are very proud of you.” 

The students and faculty continued their day by touring the Roundhouse and meeting various legislators and senators. The group was also fortunate enough to sit on the floor of the New Mexico State Senate during a portion of its annual session and to meet New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez in her private conference room.

The students received much attention on their trip. Directly after he and his classmates emerged from the floor of the Senate, Teen Pulse staffer and LAHS senior Owen Bradbury Aranda was interviewed by Univision, the American Spanish language broadcast television network. Bradbury Aranda discussed the significance of the AP District Honor Roll Award, as well as the importance of AP classes in the state of New Mexico.

Both the students and staff took group pictures with Martinez, but Richard Jia, one daring LAHS senior with a good sense of humor, pushed his luck a bit further.

Just as Martinez was leaving, Jia ran after her, frantically pushing past his fellow students to ask her for a buddy picture. He left the whole room laughing with him for his bravery, and he ended up getting the picture. 

“It was awesome because it was about time I was recognized for my fame and accomplishment,” he joked later on.

Jia, along with LAHS seniors Alexandra Hehlen and Hannah Cunningham, also presented an AP District Honor Roll poster to Hanna Skandera, the New Mexico State Department of Education Secretary. 

As a whole, the students’ trip to the Roundhouse brought them into the center of New Mexican politics, giving them an insight into the lawmaking and governing processes.