The Sandoval Signpost

An Independent Monthly Newsmagazine Serving the Community since 1989


Intel science fair meets Optimists

Suzann Owings

Sometimes a great opportunity just walks in and sits right down.

Our Optimist Club’s latest opportunity came with Russ Fisher-Ives. For years I had heard about Russ. He ran the Placitas recycling project and taught science at Rio Rancho High School. He had always been described to me as the busiest man alive.

At the invitation of one of our Optimist members, Russ came to tell us about his latest project. He was the evening’s program. He pulled out his laptop, set up his LCD, and started bubbling over with excitement.

Russ told us about several projects, of course. Working with his nonprofit, IF, Inc., Russ’s most immediate deadline is May, 2007, when Intel’s International Science and Engineering Fair comes to Albuquerque. From Bernalillo, Russ heads the project team for hosting five thousand visitors from around the world.

The Intel ISEF is the world's largest precollege celebration of science, we were told. It brings together over twelve hundred students from forty nations to compete for scholarships, tuition grants, internships, scientific field trips, and the grand prize of three $50,000 college scholarships and high-performance computers.

The finalists, aka students, will compete for over $3 million dollars during this weeklong science bonanza. Major universities, military branches, businesses, and government agencies attend. They come to see what is happening and to recruit from the world’s best pool of precollege brains.

More information about the Intel ISEF 2007 can be found at More information about the plans of Russ’s nonprofit organization can be found at, calling Intel at 867-2007, or by contacting Suzann Owings at 867-0567.


UNM and charter school team up

Funds from a joint grant to the Coronado Soil and Water Conservation District and the Placitas Education Fund are allowing for a community cleanup of Placitas Elementary, Walden Park and the adjacent Las Huertas Grant Land.

The cleanup will be on April 9 at 9:00 a.m. Meet on the back side of the school near the picnic tables. This will be a great community project, and all citizens are welcome to come out and help pick up litter and debris on this beautiful land. The Parent Teacher Organization will participate by providing cold water and volunteers. Community participants are encouraged to bring good protective gloves and trash bags.

Now that our state legislator has passed the prekindergarten initiative, the Placitas Education Fund will be holding a community workshop to discuss how we can get our prekindergarten up and running as soon as possible. If you are interested in this initiative, please come to our workshop on April 13 at 9:00 a.m. at the old Grand River Door Manufacturing Plant, 45 Dusty Trail (one road west of Tierra Madre Road, turn north on Door Co Way, and veer to the right; go to the end of the road). Children are welcome.

The USDA has donated some trees to us. We plan to plant trees on Earth Day, April 22. These are mature trees and heaving them around will require help, so please come out and lend a hand. Call 867-2047 for information on the exact location later in April.


Placitas charter moves forward

Idalee Vogel
Placitas Village Charter School

Village Academy Charter School continues to prepare for a fall opening. The governance council and working committees have been meeting regularly to refine the academic program and formalize a location for the school. The public charter school will open in fall 2005 with grades six, seven, and eight, followed next year by grades kindergarten through five.

Village Academy selected the Core Knowledge Curriculum to provide an academic focus and encourage consistency in instruction. Core Knowledge, which is recognized as a model curriculum by the U.S. Department of Education, provides a plan for coherent, sequenced learning from grade to grade. It serves as an effective tool for lesson planning and communication among teachers and with parents, while promoting a community of learners—both adults and children.

The Village Academy program emphasizes small classes, personal attention, and family involvement.

Village Academy's Web site is expected to be operational in April, and the governance council will announce informational sessions online and through and other media outlets. A formal charter school enrollment period with specific dates and times will be officially announced in the local media. Details will be published on the school's Web site and posted at public locations throughout the area.

 Village Academy Governance Council will meet April 6 and 20 at Village Academy Charter School Administrative Offices, 45 Dusty Trail, Placitas, New Mexico. Write to Village Academy Charter School, P. O. Box 1247, Placitas, NM 87043-1247, or e-mail If you would like to be added to a follow-up preenrollment information list, send your request to the attention of Egda Delaney at the above post office box or e-mail address.


UNM-LA students ‘make the grade’

Bonnie Gordon

Each semester a handful of students make the grade, literally. At UNM-Los Alamos, these students are honored through the Director's List. Students named to the Director's List must have a grade-point average of 3.5 and no grade lower than a C.

The following UNM-LA students from Sandoval County have been named to the Director's List for fall 2004:

  • From Bernalillo: Bendicto Leyva, Eloisa Carrillo, Ra-mona Perea, Maryann Aragon, Carmen Casaus, Susan Duncan, Carmen Perez, Reynaldo Perez, Jane Montoya, Grace Garnand, Emily Gutierrez, Angela Sosa, Fabiola Martinez De Rivas, Guadalupe Montano, Mary Vineyard, Lucy Aragon, Carla Cordero, Veronica Duran-Mora
  • From Cuba: Arsenio Jacquez Sr., Rose Post, Melissa Ramirez
  • From Jemez Springs: Tejay Cardon
  • Peña Blanca: Ramona Sisneros
  • From Rio Rancho: Denise Montoyam, Renee Padilla
  • From Santo Domingo Pueblo: Dorella Coriz, Nadine Atencio
  • From Zia Pueblo: Harold Reid

For information about educational opportunities at UNM-Los Alamos, at either the Los Alamos campus or the Bernalillo site, call 1-800-894-5919 go to Call the Bernalillo site at 771-4071.


Bistro Night coming to Placitas Elementary

The Art in the School program at Placitas Elementary School will be the focus of the final in a series of “family nights” at the school covering literacy, math, technology, and art. Bistro Night will be held on Thursday, April 21, from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Friends and families of the students, as well as members of the community, are all welcome to attend.

Art in the School is a private nonprofit organization that publishes art-education curriculum materials and conducts professional development workshops for educators. It prepares parent volunteers (presenters) to teach art classes in the schools as a way of assisting public schools with art education. It serves as a national and international resource for art education.

The AIS projects for this year have included pottery, photography, landscape architecture, and printmaking. All of the students' work will be on display at Bistro Night. Look for artwork by PES students at this year's state fair in September where the School Arts Building will house displays by students throughout the state.

AIS is also sponsoring a school-wide field trip to Shidoni Bronze Foundry in Tesuque on April 26 and 27. Students will tour the foundry where bronze sculptures are cast and have lunch in the beautiful sculpture gardens adjacent to the foundry. The students will also be touring Tesuque Glassworks, which is next to the foundry. The trip is made possible by a generous donation from Greg Reiche and Laura Telander-Reiche, Placitas residents and parents of two PES students.

Sally Blanton and Linda Hughes are the AIS coordinators for PES. Presenters include Carolyn Baca, Sally Blanton, Renee Espinoza, Karla Freeman, Karen Hamilton, Karen Hanthorn-Rhodes, Valerie Holm, Linda Hughes, Cindy King, and Fehrunissa Willett. If you are interested in being an AIS presenter, please feel free to contact Linda Hughes at 867-0027.

Funding for the AIS program comes from a variety of sources: PES, the Parent/Teacher Organization, and booth rental proceeds from the Placitas Elementary Flea Market held at the Merc May through October.

The fifth-grade class will be selling coffee and pastries at Bistro Night to help fund their upcoming field trip to Carlsbad Caverns. They invite you to enjoy a cup of coffee and a pastry while strolling through the school to see the students’ work.




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