The Optimist Club de Sandoval, collaborating with the Sandoval County Sheriff's Department, held a Pictures with Santa and Kasey Day on December 6 at The Merc in Placitas. The event helped the sheriff's department and the Optimist Club collect food for the needy of Sandoval County. (left to right) Sheriff Trujillo, Santa, Lt. Dean Alexander, Vanessa Alexander (administrator of the Kasey program), Kasey #2, and Special Deputy Kasey.
Optimists were busy in December
The new year will be exciting for Placitas, Sandoval County, and their Optimist Club de Sandoval.
The Junior Optimists at Placitas Elementary School finished out December with a bowling party. They’re becoming good bowlers.
The Junior Optimists won’t resume their weekly meetings until January 15. The adult Optimists will be recovering from a monumental holiday season until then.
The parties came and went as the Optimists put on a month-long Blessings Day project. Optimists Fran Stephens, Elaine Sullivan, Julie Dirksen, and Nancy and Frank Hawks led the effort.
While gathering food, gifts and clothes was important, these Optimists also were Santa’s helpers in making sure the letters from Placitas children got up to the North Pole.
The Optimist elves gathered food blessings beginning November 12 when the sheriff’s department brought Kasey to conduct a youth identification program and collected cans of food.
Saturday, December 6, the Optimists again joined with the sheriff’s department and Kasey gathering more canned food at the free Pictures with Santa event the Optimists and community sponsors provided at Homestead Plaza.
Four businesses in the community paid for the Santa pictures, so the children only had to bring a can of food. Bailey-Wright Design, B&E Home Repair, Placitas Realty and Pharmacy Plus, and Maureen and Frank Castro of A Digital Image donated their photographic expertise.
The following day, the Optimists were up bright and early to help the North Valley Optimists at the Albuquerque Bike Association’s fabulous toy run. Motorcyclists from throughout the state brought toys and canned food, which the Optimists made sure got to the right people.
Saturday, December 13, the Optimists received more food and gently used clothes and toys, which they sorted and donated to Peanut Butter and Jelly, St. Vincent de Paul, Haven House, and the sheriff’s department for distribution to needy families throughout the county.
The work did not end for the Optimists and the sheriff’s department until December 22 when they distributed the food boxes complete with turkeys (thanks to the North Valley Optimist Club) and hams (thanks to the Placitas Elementary PTO).
A good time was had by all. January 14 should be perfect for resuming the Junior club activities.
Prekindergarten changes lifetimes
About four years ago, representative Heather Wilson told a small group about the eye-opening experience she received when her daughter began kindergarten.
That afternoon changed my life and the lives of many of us in Placitas. A year or so later, Snow Moore Watson, Margaret Palumbo, and I decided to start the Placitas Education Fund to support additional community education. Our first project became the Placitas Pre-Kindergarten School, which is housed at the San Antonio Community Center.
Compiling studies done in the preschool field, the Northwest Regional Education Laboratory has listed fifteen advantages prekindergarten children have over children who did not attend preschool. I have summarized the list below. As you will see, the advantages last long into adulthood.
Fewer referrals for remedial (special education) classes, more likely to remain in regular classes.
- Fewer retentions, less likely to repeat grades.
- Higher grades, fewer failing grades.
- Greater social and emotional maturity.
- More frequent high school graduation, GED completion.
- Greater academic motivation, on-task behavior, capacity for independent work, time spent on homework.
- Lower incidence of absenteeism and detentions.
- Better attitudes toward school.
- Better self-esteem.
- Lower incidence of illegitimate pregnancy, drug abuse, delinquent acts.
- More sports participation.
- Higher future aspirations, more post-secondary education.
- Higher employment rates and better earnings, lower incidence of dependence on welfare.
- Fewer arrests and antisocial acts.
- Better relationships with family members, higher incidence of volunteer work, more-frequent church attendance.
We are enormously fortunate to have the Placitas Pre-kindergarten, which allows children to participate half-days, whole days, and partial and full weeks. For further information about the Placitas Pre-kindergarten, please call Snow Moore Watson, 867-2047.
Students Shannon Taraddei and her cousin Niko Taraddei of Placitas play Mary and Joseph in a reenactment of the Christmas Eve Bible story during Las Posadas in the village of Placitas. Hundreds of luminarias line the streets of the old Placitas village during this traditional, annual event. Farolitos (little fires) on the street corners allow the residents following the procession to get warm. Participants sing a question-and-answer script in Spanish at the doorways of four different homes in the village finishing with refreshments, socializing, and a visit with Santa at the Placitas Elementary School.
6% pay hike for RR teachers thanks to union efforts
A 6-percent raise for teachers and other instructional personnel became effective with the second paycheck of December in Rio Rancho and other districts across New Mexico. According to Rio Rancho School Employees’ Union copresident Diana Bonilla, “These raises aren’t arriving by accident. The membership of the RRSEU worked hard to make these and future raises possible for all employees.”
This year’s raise, mandated by the legislature, came about because many union members statewide testified at the legislature, including many from Rio Rancho. The raise would have been depleted greatly if RRSEU had not bargained with the district for the extra 3 percent at the beginning of the year to offset an insurance increase. Both the New Mexico Federation of Educational Employees and the National Education Association, New Mexico, fought hard for the funding for the new three-tiered licensure, which laid the foundation for the new funding levels.
Popular class on job seeking offered again
The New Mexico Commission on the Status of Women, Displaced Homemakers Office, is again offering the popular Effective Work Search Skills class. The class is targeted to women who have been out of the job market for a number of years, need to return to work, or are in transition and need to improve their skills in looking for work. Everything from defining your skills, writing an effective resume, how to tap into the hidden job market, and being prepared for today’s interviewing process will be covered.
The class will be held on January 14 from 9:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. with lunch on your own. Meet in the conference room of the New Mexico Commission on the Status of Women, 4001 Indian School Road NE, Suite 300, in Albuquerque. Seating is limited, so registration is required. Contact Lorraine Bantista at 841-8923 for additional information and registration.
Playgroup finds new location
An infant-toddler playgroup has moved to the Placitas prekindergarten classroom at the San Antonio Mission at 45 Paseo de San Antonio in the village of Placitas. At this location more time slots are available for young ones to get together and play. The play group consists of parents and their little ones who get together for social and developmental interaction. There is no charge for the play group, which is organized and managed by parents. Contact Jillian, 867-0241, for play group times and days.