• Hope Floats in a Concrete Canoe

    Does concrete float? Teams representing 23 schools were judged on how well they applied their engineering skills to building boats from concrete. The concrete canoes were more than four times heavier than same-size canoes made of wood.

  • LAHS advances in national rankings

    Los Alamos High School has had quite a run lately in terms of national rankings.

    LAHS received “Silver Medal” status in 2013 as one of America’s Best High Schools in an annual ranking by U.S. News & World Report. From a review of 21,035 U.S. public high schools, Los Alamos ranked 556th in the nation. The LAHS ranking was up significantly from the 2012 “Silver Medal” ranking of 638th.

    Rankings of high schools are largely determined by participation in Advanced Placement courses.

    This past year, 49 percent of the 1,124 Los Alamos High School students enrolled in Advanced Placement courses. Other academic indicators used in the ranking are College Readiness Index, Math Proficiency, Reading Proficiency, and Student/Teacher Ratio.

    Los Alamos High School also checked in at No. 780 on the Newsweek top 1,000 school list. The list is based on six components: graduation rate (25 percent), college acceptance rate (25 percent), AP/IB/AICE tests taken per student (25 percent), average SAT/ACT scores (10 percent), average AP/IB/AICE scores (10 percent) and percent of students enrolled in at least one AP/IB/AICE course (five percent).

  • Kiwanis honors

    Jordan Ahlers will be attending Hillsdale College in Michigan and will study pre-law or engineering. Ahlers was one of 10 students that received a scholarship from Kiwanis for school expenses. Pictured from left to right are: Gary Ahlers, Jordan Ahlers, Don Casperson, Joni Ahlers and Morrie Pongratz. Kiwanis meets at noon each Tuesday at Trinity on the Hill Church in Kelly Hall.

  • UNM-LA begins 2 mil-levy campaign

    Coming to a dinner table or civic club near you: a conversation about taxes and education, courtesy of the University of New Mexico-Los Alamos.

    UNM-LA hosted a kickoff event on campus Wednesday for community leaders as well as faculty in an effort to get the word out about UNM-LA’s proposed, 2 mil tax increase. The tax increase is due to go to voters on a ballot this fall and the election is scheduled for Sept. 17.

    During the event, college officials emphasized to their respective audiences how important it is that the increase passes and why the additional funds are necessary.

    “I hope they take away from this a clear understanding as to why we need the funding the tax levy will bring,” said Campus Executive Director Dr. Cedric Page following the presentation.

    Steven Boerigter, the chairman of UNM-LA’s Advisory Board, was blunt in his assessment that he shared with community leaders who gathered for the presentation. “UNM-LA is in trouble,” he said. “State funding has gone down, costs are going up, we need as a community of Los Alamos, we believe we need to step up to the table.”

  • Officials name new Barranca principal

    Barranca Mesa Elementary School has a new principal, the Los Alamos School District announced Wednesday.
    Bradford M. Parker will take over the position in the upcoming school year, replacing Pam Miller.

    Andrea Determan, fourth grade teacher and Committee Chair of the interview committee noted that, “we were impressed with his qualifications and experience and are excited and happy to have him become a member of our school community.”

    Parker comes to Barranca Mesa Elementary with 17 years of administrative experience at all levels in New Mexico Schools. From 2008 until recently, he served as the principal of Jemez Valley Elementary, Middle, and High Schools.

    Jemez Valley Elementary under his leadership was named a “School on the Rise” by the Public Education Department in 2009. Jemez Valley Elementary made Adequate Yearly Progress in 2009 and 2010, meeting the criteria for successful schools established by the State of New Mexico and the No Child Left Behind Act.

    Parker has most recently been the principal of Jemez Valley High. He is a retired full commander in the Naval Reserve and has a record of leadership.

  • Barranca Elementary roof a wakeup call

    When the roof of Barranca Mesa Elementary School’s gym blew off in May, school officials looked at the incident as a wake-up call. A recent investigation has caused the district and the board to ask some hard questions about building codes and climate change.

    At a recent meeting District Assets manager Joan Ahlers reminded the board that not only has building code changed since most of the roofs in the district were installed (25 to 30 years ago) but so has the weather.

    “With Barranca and Piñon, in light of the most recent wind event we’ve had, the question raised if the roofs were properly installed. The roofs were installed properly, but they were installed over 25 to 30 years ago... However they are no longer up to code so they all probably need to be replaced,” Ahlers said. “...For example, uplift in this part of the country was never really considered very heavily, uplift was only considered in areas of the country that had hurricanes and tornadoes.”

    In recent wind incidents involving roof damage, students were not present. At Barranca, that incident happened on a Wednesday afternoon. Wednesday is a half-day at Barranca.

    After some discussions with the district building superintendent Jeff Sargent, Ahlers noted that at least seven roofs need to be replaced.

  • Top honors

    School volunteer Bernadette Lauritzen was recently awarded a “2013 Excellence for Student Achievement Award” by the New Mexico School Boards Association.
    Lauritzen received a recognition certificate from the Los Alamos School Board for her efforts

  • Middle school may not be ready in time

    It appears the Los Alamos Middle School will not be ready in time when school starts in August.

    The news came through David Wharram, a spokesman for McCarthy Construction.

    “The progress is good, however, the schedule, which was issued in May, is basically a month behind,” he said to the board members at a recent meeting on construction progress.

    That would put the new date of completion at around Sept. 9, and that date does not include obtaining a certificate of occupancy from the county.

    Wharram said they are just now beginning to install the wiring for computers and media and through the media center and to all of the classrooms, a “critical part” he said was supposed to have been completed on May 29.

    “That reflection on progress goes throughout the rest of the building, so you are looking at this schedule being at least three weeks behind,” Wharram added.

    The good news is that the school board and McCarthy Construction, the contractor in charge of the project planned for this back in May, coming up with a plan that would keep most of the middle school’s portable campus in place until the supposed Aug. 8 date of completion, just in case it was looking like the school would not be open by then.

  • UNM-LA to launch mil levy campaign

    On June 19, The University of New Mexico-Los Alamos will kick off the campaign seeking voter support of the mil levy special election on Sept. 17.
    A successful election will afford financial stability and sustainability of programs and services in light of diminishing state funding.
    The two-part event will take place on the UNM-LA campus and will consist of a roundtable discussion with elected officials at 11 a.m. in room 505, Wallace Hall, followed by a public luncheon in the Student Center Café at noon.
    The luncheon, provided by Our Community, Our College, will include video testimonials of students discussing their UNM-LA experiences, followed by a presentation given by Dean of Instruction, Dr. Kate Massengale, who will discuss the reasons why approving the mil levy is important to the community of Los Alamos and surrounding areas.
    Luncheon guests will have the opportunity to ask questions following the presentation. Seating for the luncheon is limited so RSVP by Monday, to Lisa Wismer, 469-1465, lclough@unm.edu.
    For more information about Our Community, Our College, visit ourcommunityourcollege.com.
    Also, UNM-LA and Los Alamos and Los Alamos Public Schools will be working together June 18–20, to properly dispose of hazardous waste generated in their science and art classes.

  • District shows off new middle school

    Though they served the middle school well, it’s probably a sure bet no one is going to miss the portable classrooms.

    When the work at the middle school is finally completed, students will be in for a totally different experience.

    If there could be only be two words used to sum up the new Los Alamos Middle School, it would be “unity” and “efficiency.” From the boiler rooms to the new courtyard, the building has been designed to provide a more cohesive learning experience for students, and a cohesive working environment for teachers and staff.

    One of the more dramatic elements involves the school’s interior which works to keep a group of students with their assigned teachers all day, making for a smooth, uninterrupted learning experience for both the students and teachers.

    “It’s all about building camaraderie, teamwork, being together, less travel time during the day for core classes,” said Middle School Principal Rex Kilburn.

    He said it will be a new experience for everyone, and hopefully a far better one than last school year, when the school was under construction. Though the portable classrooms valiantly served their purpose in educating students, everyone was very spread out.