and parent involvement at charter school
—PAMELA ENGSTROM, PRINCIPAL,
Village Academy Charter School is preparing to launch a new mentorship
program to be developed more fully this year. VACS is actively recruiting
adult mentors to assist and guide students in their career or special-interest
areas, such as dancing, music, art, and business. To serve as a
qualified mentor, individuals are required to pass the standard
background check. VACS mentors also will be invited to participate
as guest speakers. At the end of each year, students will be expected
to prepare a portfolio, as well as a presentation or performance
for their parents, family, and members of the community that reflects
their year of mentorship learning. The presentation is an opportunity
for the entire school community to honor mentors who graciously
have donated their time and expertise to inspire our students to
Village Academy’s small class sizes and
family-centered organization allows us to teach to the individual
pace and needs of each student. Every Friday, VACS will conduct
a lottery for students in grades six, seven, and eight who are interested
in enrolling in the school. For more information, contact Pamela
Engstrom, at 449-8113, and visit the VACS Web site, www.villageacademyplacitas.com.
Bond passage essential to Placitas Elementary School
—SNOW WATSON AND DIANE EVANKO, PTO, PLACITAS ELEMENTARY
The upcoming election, on February 6, will include two bond issues
that will allow Placitas Elementary School finally to meet state
adequacy standards. The passing of these bond questions, which will
not increase taxes, is crucial to this community. For over fifteen
years, PES has had three portables housing several classes and support
staff facilities. The school, which consistently meets the state’s
Adequate Yearly Progress Standards, has not been upgraded or had
major improvements since 1976.
Of the 160 students currently enrolled in the school, forty-four
attend classes in portable buildings. If the bond issue passes,
it will generate $22 million in capital-improvement funding over
four years for the Bernalillo Public School District. Of this total,
Placitas Elementary is scheduled to receive $2.3 million, to be
matched with 47 percent funding provided from the state through
the Public Schools Facility Authority, for a total project cost
of $4.3 million. The previous bond issue has funded the pre-construction
work, including the architectural and engineering services, full
abatement of asbestos from the school, and moving the current portable
structures, which occurred during the recent school break and allows
PES to undergo the major renovations planned soon after the bond
There will be a new road entrance to the school site further east
of Calle Carbon on 165, creating a separate bus circulation route.
Other site improvements will include removing all portables from
the site and making the entire school one permanent building. Another
area of major construction is the kitchen, which is drastically
under code requirements and will be completely demolished and rebuilt.
The existing building systems (HVAC, electrical, plumbing, etc)
will all be updated in the renovation. At the new entrance to the
wing will be administrative offices, including a nurse’s office,
conference room, secretary station, and a principal’s office.
All community members can go out and make a difference. By voting
for the bond issues on February 6, you will be providing Placitas
with an adequate educational facility.
PES first graders help change the world through
Read to Feed program
Students at Placitas Elementary School recently purchased special
gifts for families around the world. Honeybees will increase fruit
and vegetable yields, provide candle wax, and give honey to eat
and sell. Tree seedlings will be planted for water retention in
the soil, firewood, windbreaks, erosion control, food, building
materials, and oxygen production. A flock of chicks will grow to
become egg-laying hens, the extra eggs may be sold, and the hen
droppings improve crops. Angora rabbits will be sheared every three
months for a family to afford food, clothes, and school fees. Another
family will receive a dairy goat for fresh milk to drink and sell.
After Betsy Bartels read Beatrice’s Goat to her first-grade
students, they participated in the Read to Feed program of Heifer
International. Students kept logs of their reading and asked family
and neighbors to make a pledge in any amount for each book they
read. When students returned their envelopes to class, they worked
together to decide what gifts to purchase. Their teacher used math
counters to symbolize the dollar amounts, and each student was given
the opportunity to voice pros and cons on various gift ideas.
Bartels explained, “We had enough money to purchase a water
buffalo that gives milk, pulls a plow, and has dung that is dried
for fuel. However, a number of my students spoke with conviction
about the ability to help more families with more gifts if we didn’t
spend $250 on the purchase of one animal. They convinced the others
to look at different options.”
The Placitas students learned about children who could not attend
school because their families could not afford the uniforms, books,
Families that receive a gift from Heifer International are trained
in animal care and earth-friendly farming practices. Most important
to the Heifer International success is the practice of “passing
on the gift.” Families who receive an animal give one or more
of the animal’s offspring to another family in need. That
family passes on the gift to another family, and the gifts of Placitas
Elementary students multiply throughout different communities.
Founded in 1944, Heifer International is a humanitarian assistance
organization that works to end world hunger and protect the earth.
Through livestock, training and "passing on the gift,"
has helped seven million families in more than 125 countries improve
their quality of life and move toward greater self-reliance. Heifer
helps build strong communities because each project participant
agrees to pass on the gift of animal offspring, training, or skills
to another family in need.
Library questionnaire on its way to all Placitans
—ANNE FROST, DIRECTOR, PLACITAS COMMUNITY LIBRARY
Please keep an eye out for a letter from the library in your mailbox
in the next few weeks. Inside you will find a gold questionnaire
about your wishes for the new library. As we move to the planning
stages for the new building, your input is vital. The building committee
wants to hear from you even if you don’t want a library or
have never used one. This building can be serve us all in many exciting
ways, but only if we have your participation. Since the library
may not have all the funds to accomplish everything now, the planning
committee needs to know your desires and priorities. So please,
stop a moment and consider your dreams for the Placitas community,
then fill out the questionnaire and feel free to add all the comments
you wish. Don’t forget to mail it or drop it off at the library.
Please also let us know your name and number if you would like to
be included in further discussions of the new building plans. If
you have questions or do not receive a questionnaire by the end
of February, please call the library, at 867-3355.
January is also the time of our board elections. The 2007 Placitas
Community Library Board is: Judy Labovitz—chair and capital
campaign; Pam Buethe—vice-chair and friends; Judy Gajkowski—secretary
and outreach; Susan Fullas—treasurer; Wayne Sandoval—lobbyist
and Las Huertas Land Grant liaison; Gail DellaPelle—building
and planning; Martin Bradshaw—grants; Anne Frost—library
director. If you would like to be involved in any of these committees,
please leave a message at the library and you will be contacted
shortly. The library board has also created an advisory committee.
These folks give generously of their time and expertise, and the
board is very grateful to each of them. The advisory committee includes
Jim Bryden, David Burlingame, Bill Sapien, and Pepi Strahl.
As always, the library board and volunteers are completely dependent
on your generous donations for all our operating expenses. Since
we are all volunteers, these costs are kept to a minimum but the
rent, utilities, and supplies do mount up. We are happy to receive
your book and cash donations all year round and are very grateful
for your continued support.
PROMOTE LITERACY—READ A FORTUNE COOKIE
Join us on Saturday, February 17, at the library for a Chinese/Lunar
New Year celebration. From 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. we’ll have
a children’s story time with fables from China and Korea and
some great activities to celebrate the Year of the Pig. There will
be fun decorations celebrating an ancient holiday. Fortune cookies
will be available all day long, and you will even be able to have
your name written in Korean characters.
Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Saturdays: 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
New Hours: Thursdays: 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.
DATES TO REMEMBER:
• Friday, February 2, at 9:30 a.m.: Children’s story
• Monday, February 5, at 4:00 p.m.: Library Book Group will
discuss Five Quarters of the Orange, by Joanne Harris.
The book club meetings will be held at private homes due to the
cool temperatures in the library. Please call for directions.
• Saturday, February 17, at 10:30 a.m.: Chinese/Lunar New
• Tuesday, February 20, at 3:00 p.m.: Spanish-English story
• Monday, March 5, at 4:00 p.m.: Library Book Group—The
Moonstone, by Wilkie Collins