The Sandoval Signpost

An Independent Monthly Newsmagazine Serving the Community since 1989


Village Academy receives $150K federal grant to prepare for opening

The population of Placitas has grown, now nearing six thousand residents. As families move into the area, they are also seeking educational options for their children. With the opening this year of Village Academy Charter School, a tuition-free public school, students ready for middle school will have one more local option to consider for their education.

In March, Village Academy conducted its preopening enrollment process for first-year slots in grades six through eight. The open-enrollment phase provides information that helps staff prepare its annual operating budget. The governance council will continue to accept enrollment applications until the first-year maximum enrollment number of fifty-four students is reached.

Last month, Village Academy governance-council members participated in a work session with Bernalillo Public Schools board members to address the charter school's plans and progress to date. Village Academy representatives were encouraged by the opportunity to discuss with BPS representatives the challenges of opening a new middle school in the area. The process was seen as positive, productive, and an indication of the future.

The relationship of charter schools to districts that authorize such schools has evolved as a result of recent changes in state law. However, the need for cooperation and effective working relationships between districts and charter schools will continue to be vital to better serve students and families.

The governance council is also pleased to announce Village Academy will receive a $150,000 federal grant this fiscal year. The grant, which is made available through the Federal Public Charter School Program and managed by the New Mexico Public Education Department, will be used to prepare the charter school and its staff for the school's opening this fall. Continuing developments in Village Academy's progress will be posted to its newly revised Web site,

Public governance-council meetings are held the second and fourth Wednesdays of the month at 7:00 p.m. at San Antonio Mission Church Social Hall. Interested individuals are encouraged to attend the meetings to obtain information and offer suggestions.

To receive information about student participation, the academic program, and how VACS can address your child's needs, write to Village Academy Charter School, P.O. Box 1247, Placitas, NM 87043-1247, visit, or e-mail

BHS student writes successful grant for recycling project

Bernalillo High School recently received $1,200 from Keep New Mexico Beautiful for two projects to be implemented by Biology-1 students and the Severe and Profound Special Education Program.

The first grant, for $480, initiated and written by BHS student Ben Wassarott, will fund the establishment of a recycling program at Bernalillo High School.

“Ben came to me with the idea of starting a recycling program and asked for possible sources of money,” said BHS environmental sciences teacher Jeremy Marley. “I suggested he write a grant application to Keep New Mexico Beautiful. To my surprise, he had a complete draft completed the next day. Congratulations are definitely in order for his achievement!”

Ben, a senior from Placitas, said his goal is to establish a recycling program that can continue long-term and inspire others in the community to consider recycling.

Ben cares not only about the earth but about those less fortunate than he. In his plan for the recycling project, the Biology-1 class and the Severe and Profound Special Education Program will be working together. “The [recycling] program provides these students with real-world experience in planning and accomplishing an objective,” Ben said.

Ben has applied for a scholarship at UNM, where he hopes to study architecture and planning. He is particularly interested in a course called Watershed Management, which will help integrate his environmental interests and architectural endeavors.

The second KNMB grant, for $720, will be used to further develop an organic agricultural research plot and establish a composting program, to be implemented by students in the Biology-1 classes and the Severe and Profound Special Education program.

The students will plant corn, chili, and native herbs this spring as part of a long-term project that will complement classroom instruction in ecology, plant science, genetic engineering, agricultural studies, and native-plant studies.

He said that the program complements what the Native American students already know from their traditional planting practices. “It is important to these students because it connects to their culture,” Marley commented. “Native Americans farmed in these sustainable ways for hundreds of years before pesticides were introduced.”

Classes offered for grandparents raising grandchildren

The Grandparents Raising Grandchildren support groups and a grandparenting refresher class, Refreshing and Updating Your Parenting Skills, will begin April 1. Groups are ongoing through May 2.

The support groups and the refresher class offer grandparents help in many areas: legal questions, financial concerns, respite care, relationship problems, parenting, and emotional support. Participants discover that they are not alone; they find comfort, encouragement, and friendship; and they learn about resources in the community.

No registration is required for the support groups; grandparents can simply show up. Free child care is offered, but grandparents must call 243-2551 at least forty-eight hours in advance to reserve a spot. Grandparents who are interested in the refresher class must register by calling 243-2551. The support groups are free; however, there is a small fee for the refresher class.

Saturday classes are on April 1, 15, and 29 from 10:00 to 11:30 a.m. at the Community of Joy Lutheran Church, 841 Saratoga Drive NE, in Rio Rancho.

For further information and other class dates, you may call Sheila Genoni, Debbie Trujillo, or Cindy Anderson, at 243-2551.



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