• College to christen renovated library

    Northern New Mexico College will celebrate the grand opening and dedication of its newly renovated Ben Luján Library Thursday.
    The public celebration kicks off at 9:45 a.m. with tours of the library and a presentation of Oliver Greer’s Extraordinary Bug Exhibit. The college’s Digital Media department will also be hosting Bug Movies, a workshop where visitors can star in mini films in Northern’s television station studio.
    The formal dedication ceremony will begin at 10:30 a.m. with a welcome by Northern President Nancy “Rusty” Barceló. The late Speaker Luján’s family, including his son, Congressman Ben Ray Luján, will be present to acknowledge the support and resources that the late Speaker brought to the institution and northern New Mexico.
    The renovations added 7,000 square feet to the library, doubling the size of the original facility. The space includes a new computer lab, study pods, and student meeting rooms.
    Following the dedication, the college will host a luncheon in the Connie Valdez quad, just north of the Luján library.

  • Tuition to increase 14 percent for NNMC students

    ESPANOLA, N.M. (AP) — Students at Northern New Mexico College are set to see their tuition go up 14 percent.

    The Board of Regents on Monday adopted last minute changes to the school's budget that included the hike, but set aside plans to increase faculty salaries. The increase means tuition will stand at nearly $1,400 for a student taking 12 credits. Students also can expect about a $35 increase in fees.

    The Albuquerque Journal reports board president Michael Branch said he couldn't justify the salary increase in light of the tuition hike.

    The board also opted to keep a daycare center and a community kitchen, which were on the chopping block as cost-cutting measures. The panel did approve 2.5 percent budget cuts across all departments as it deals with cash reserves that one school executive described as "dangerously low."

  • Barceló moves NNMC forward

    President Nancy “Rusty” Barceló’s vision for Northern New Mexico College is guided by both NNMC’s history and her own.
    In 1909, the New Mexico Territorial Legislature created the institution as the Spanish American Normal School with a primary function of training teachers for the state’s Spanish-speaking population. It was one of 10 educational institutions named in the state’s 1912 constitution.
    “It was established through a constitutional act that said that it would serve the Spanish-speaking populations of Northern New Mexico, which makes us historically the first Spanish-serving institution in the United States that was legally mandated to serve these populations,” Barceló said. “I think that’s a historical fact that is important to the State of New Mexico, and I’m trying to build upon that.”
    The fact that 82 percent of the student population is Hispanic and 12 percent are American Indian is especially significant to Barceló.
    “So I say to myself, what does that mean to us educationally? We should probably be in the vanguard of how to do multi-cultural education because of these populations.”
    Barceló created an Office of Equity and Diversity to accomplish that goal.

  • Barcelo's plans for NNMC include LA

    Northern New Mexico College President Nancy “Rusty” Barceló has accomplished an amazing amount in a little less than three years. But her vision for the college expands far beyond her accomplishments so far.

    Barceló quickly led NNMC to fiscal recovery, completing four audits in a 10-month period while she began an academic restructuring of the institution. She added four new colleges to the existing College of Education: Professional Studies, Arts and Sciences, Nursing and Health Sciences and Community, Workforce, and Career Technical Education.

    Los Alamos National Laboratory provided substantial funding toward the development of an accredited baccalaureate degree program in nursing. The engineering department is currently working on accreditation.

    Many of Barceló’s plans involve outreach to communities such as Los Alamos. Given how many people from Española work in Los Alamos, Barceló sees a natural connection between the two communities.

    “There is this corridor, so to speak, where I think it’s in the best interest of our own community that we develop these important partnerships,” Barceló said.

  • La Cueva High team takes top award in 23rd Supercomputing Challenge

    A trio of Albuquerque La Cueva High School students – two who are siblings – took the prize in the 23rd New Mexico Supercomputing Challenge for their research project that used statistical analysis to identify and analyze topics in human language.

    The team, Ari Echt-Wilson, Eli Echt-Wilson, and Justin Sanchez also won the CHECS Teamwork and Cray High Performance Computing awards for their project, “Learning and Analyzing Topics in Human Language.”

    Los Alamos High School freshman Cole Kendrick took second place for his computer simulation project of Saturn’s ring structure. Kendrick, who won the New Mexico Supercomputing Challenge’s top prize in 2011 as a seventh-grade student, also received the Technical Poster Award, the Visualization prize from New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology, and the Professional Presentation Award.

    La Cueva High’s Alexandra Porter received third place for her project “Simulation of Approximate Computing Applied to Numerical Methods.” Porter was part of a La Cueva High team that took last year’s third prize.

    All the finalist teams received plaques for their school, a large banner suitable for hanging at their schools and other gifts.

  • Teacher sues district

    Zeynep Unal, a Turkish-born special education teacher who has been employed by the Los Alamos Public Schools since 2005, is suing the district for violations of the New Mexico Human Rights Act, defamation and breach of contract.
    The suit claims that Unal continues to suffer from loss of income, severe emotional distress, anxiety, humiliation, embarrassment and the violation of her federal and state statutory rights.
    Los Alamos Public Schools, the Los Alamos Public Schools School Board, Aspen Elementary School principal Kathryn Vandenkieboom and superintendent Gene Schmidt are named as defendants in the case.
    “I can’t comment on its merits,” said school board president Jim Hall. “It’s inappropriate to comment on a legal matter especially involving personnel. We have to wait and see what happens and let the court process play out.”
    “Until our attorneys look at this and study this, I can not comment,” Schmidt said.
    Unal’s attorney, Kate Ferlic of Santa Fe, filed the suit in district court Friday.
    Schmidt said Saturday morning the school district had not been served yet but confirmed the case was filed in district court.

  • Chamisa gears up for fun fest this weekend

    The Chamisa Elementary PTO is working on its annual carnival, which is open to the community and takes place this weekend.
    The April 20 event is a fundraiser for a major school project as they ready for end of the year activities.
    “We have brought in new games and have gotten some of the teachers to agree to going into a dunk tank,” said President Trisha Conlin. “There will be food and plenty of fun.”
    The PTO has been working on fundraising to acquire new shade structures for the school. The hard working crew has raised enough money from fundraisers to put 3 canopies up in the upper team playground with hopes to inspire raising additional funds for another playground, in the future.
    The fun fest will take place from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. with a $7 admission fee that allows students to have four hours of non-stop games and play.
    Parents can watch for free or contribute to the $2,000 goal by paying a $3 fee to play or take some throws at the dunk tank.
    Cheetahs are currently collecting change in small boxes for teachers to see who gets to take the plunge on Saturday.
    The fun doesn’t just stop with games, but includes a cupcake walk, bounce houses and prizes and Chamisa hopes the whole community will support this worthwhile effort.

  • UNM-LA set to state case

    UNM-LA officially received permission last week from the university’s Board of Regents to go ahead with its plans to ask the residents of Los Alamos to help shore up the schools ailing financial situation through a 2-mil increase in property taxes in September.
    The permission came shortly after a presentation made by UNM-LA Director Cedric Page, a community support group called the Los Alamos Committee for Higher Education and support from the members of the UNM-LA Advisory Board.
    A day after, members of LACHE and the UNM-LA Advisory Board met at UNM-LA to discuss what they shared with the Board of Regents Tuesday.
    According to LACHE Chair Michael Wismer, declining state aid coupled with rising student enrollment played a key factor in the regents giving UNM-LA permission.
    “The main message Cedric communicated was that we were in a dire situation,” Wismer said. “There’s been a 38 percent decline in revenue from the state over five years. Paired with the fact that there’s been a 14 percent increase in enrollment shows that we cannot sustain this trend.”
    Wismer also shared a video that was played at the Board of Regents meeting that featured the support of County Council members.

  • LAHS ’Topper Band Performs At Disneyland

    The Los Alamos High School Topper Band had a spring break to remember.
    It marched its way down Main Street in the Walt Disneyland Main Street parade in Anaheim, Calif., last Sunday.
    It was an event-filled trip.
    The band performied in a “Soundtrack Session” with a Disney clinician, visited Disneyland and California Adventure parks, toured parts of Los Angeles, such as the Santa Monica Pier, Science Center, Rodeo Drive and saw a professional production of “West Side Story,” Topper Band Director, Zane Meek said.
    Meek, who is in his fourth year here, left with the band last Saturday morning, for their first ever Disney appearance, performing “Gangnam Style,” and the “Manhattan Beach March,” while marching for Mickey.
    “We would like to thank the community for their support and everyone for their commitment to quality music programs in the schools,” Meek said.
    The team needed to raise roughly $70,000 for the trip, which averages out to about $900 per student.
    “We also got a lot of help from the community and all of us want to make sure that they know how much we appreciated the help,” said parent Karen Mehlin.

  • Board OKs athletic pass cost increase

    Next year, families and adults looking to purchase a season pass to watch middle school and high school sports are going to being paying a little more for the experience.
    The $50 adult pass will now be $75 and the $100 family passes (two adults two students) will be $125.
    Athletic Director Vicki Nelms made the presentation before the school board recently, explaining to the board the reasons behind the increase.
    “The money goes back to our budget, it helps us to take care of our athletic programs,” she told the board, adding that the department sells about 600 of the passes every year and that they make about $50,000 to $60,000 from the passes every year.
    It was also pointed out in the presentation that if individuals or families did not use the passes, and they attended every event through the purchase of a single ticket, it would cost an adult individual or a family $755 a season, instead of $75, $125 respectively.
    When asked by board member David Foster the reasons for the request, Nelms gave many.
    “When we had the budget cuts several years ago, we took a hit like everybody else did,” Nelms said.