• Board, superintendent agree to transition to replacement

    The Los Alamos School Board agreed to extend the contract of Superintendent Gene Schmidt by one year during a special board meeting Thursday night.
    According School Board President Judy Bjarke-McKenzie, the deal will give the board time to find a new, permanent superintendent and provide for a more stable transition that will not involve an interim superintendent who some may see as a diminished position.
    The year will also give Schmidt time to see some of the projects he initiated come to fruition.
    “Instead of having two transitions involving an interim superintendent, then later on a new superintendent, we thought that would be too confusing,” Bjarke-McKenzie said, adding that the board will be working on a list of candidates throughout the year.
    Schmidt, too, said that it was the right thing to do, especially for the students.
    Board members also expressed concern that the succession issue was taking time away from what’s supposed to be a priority — educating students.
    “That will be our goal over the next year,” Schmidt said. “We will continue to raise student achievement, as well as work on what the transition to the next superintendent is going to look like, and I look forward to my role as a guide in that process.”

  • Principal candidates make case

    The two remaining candidates vying to be Los Alamos High School’s new principal had a big day Monday, as they made presentations to the student body at the school. They made a similar presentation to the general public in the school’s Speech Theatre later that evening.
    Michael Johnson’s and Deborah Belew-Nyquist’s 45-minute presentations included a question and answer period.
    Both candidates have extensive experience in education management and teaching. Johnson is presently an assistant principal at Los Alamos High School. Belew-Nyquist is presently working as an educational consultant for the International Education Director, Children of Nations in Port Orchard, Wash.
    The candidates shared their vision for the school.
    “My vision is to engage the students, as well as educate and inspire them,” Johnson said, adding that he would do that by providing students with “a good, hard-paced curriculum that’s relevant and has lots of options and extracurricular activities.” He also said he would make room to provide as much individualized instruction as possible.
    Belew-Nyquist said that if she was hired for the job, her vision would be an inclusive one.

  • LAHS principal finalists

    Candidates looking to be Los Alamos High School’s next principal met with the public Monday. Each had a change to give a presentation and mingle with the public. 

  • Super's resignation acceptance still pending

    The past six weeks have seen a lot of speculation as to the Superintendent of Schools’ employment status. There has even been speculation within the school board itself as to what to do with Schmidt’s resignation offer.
    Though the board has not officially accepted the offer, Schmidt has applied to become Taos’ next superintendent, ending up on a short list of eight candidates for the job.
    And still, the board has not said exactly why it has not officially accepted Schmidt’s resignation, nor has it officially responded to Schmidt’s main reason for wanting to leave. When he announced his resignation six weeks ago, he said one of the reasons he left was that he did not feel he had the board’s full support.
    School Board President Judy Bjarke-McKenzie said it’s quite possible Schmidt’s employment status will be settled once and for all when the board meets with Schmidt Thursday during a special session.
    “We’re going to have another conversation with him, because there seems to be some miscommunication among the board members, too. “Thursday, in our executive session, I think we will be able to clear some of this up, she said. “By the the time we have our regular meeting that night there should be more clarification.”

  • Schmidt on Taos short list

    Superintendent of Schools Dr. Gene Schmidt is apparently on a short list of candidates for a superintendent of schools position with the Taos Municipal Schools.
    Taos School Board member James Sanborn said their interview committee, which is made up of teachers, school administrators, the Taos parent-teacher organization and the Taos Pueblo has recently honed that list down from 18 candidates to six plus two alternates.
    Sanborn declined to give specifics on why the eight candidates were chosen, saying it was a committee from the New Mexico School Board Association that started the process.
    “They organize a small committee of people to come up with questions and issues that get used in the initial screening,” he said.
    He did say the board is formulating questions to ask them at a later date, possibly April 5.
    “Tonight, the school board and the committee are having a meeting tonight to put together a list of questions to ask the candidates,” he said. Sanborn added they hope to have a new superintendent in by July 1, the start of the district¹s fiscal year.

  • Get Out Your Dancing Shoes

    Students at Chamisa Elementary burned off some energy, as well as woke up their brains Thursday morning for this week’s last round of Standards Based Assessment testing. Every morning during the testing period. Gym teacher Justin Black puts on some dance videos and the students follow along to the moves. 

  • Barranca P.E. teacher goes extra mile

    The gym doors at Barranca Mesa Elementary School are open to the students much earlier than those of the regular classrooms.
    To solve the school’s problem of the early student drop off — many parents have to be at work by 8 a.m. and bring their kids to school before campus is open — physical education teacher Lynne Higdon invites early birds to shoot hoops, jump rope, and just run around while being supervised.
    It also allows their classroom teachers to get ready for the day and set up their classrooms.
    At Barranca Mesa Elementary School, where Higdon has taught P.E. for the last nine years, more and more kids are choosing healthy lifestyles thanks to her efforts.
    She is the driving force behind the school’s efforts to promote daily physical fitness among students and staff.
    “Prior to Lynne being here, the school’s P.E. program was focused on athleticism,” said Kay Swadener, a Barranca Mesa second grade teacher who works with Higdon on a school-wide committee focused on positive behavior and student health.

  • Robotics team takes 2nd at regionals

    On March 5, the Los Alamos FIRST Robotics Team 4153—Project Y took second place in the FIRST Robotics Competition Hub City Regional in Lubbock, Texas. The tournament involved 42 high school teams competing from eight states and included international teams from China.
    “This is our third year and at each competition we have done better,” said David Phillips, lead mentor. “This was a challenging competition with a lot of intense action on the field. The students and mentors did a great job to design, build and compete with our robot over the past six weeks.”
    The team finished the qualifying round of matches in 10th place overall. The teams play matches in alliances that consist of three robots, and for the elimination matches Los Alamos was allied with Team 4063 from Del Rio, Texas and Team 1801 from Kountze, Texas.
    The drive team faced stiff completion as they fought their way through the quarterfinals and semifinals against the higher ranked alliances in a series of best of three matches.
    In the final match, the team fell in the third game.

  • Happy Pi Day

    Sophia Sivils presents LAMS Principal Rex Kilburn with a pie Thursday morning as the school celebrated their annual Pi Day. Friday is actually Pi Day but students have the day off so they celebrated Thursday.

  • 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.