The Sandoval Signpost

An Independent Monthly Newsmagazine Serving the Community since 1989

SCHOOLBAG

Call for nominees

Young New Mexicans dedicated to community, volunteer work to be honored

New Mexico Voices for Children is now accepting nominations for the 2007 Amy Biehl Youth Spirit Award. The award honors New Mexico youth ages thirteen through twenty-six who are making a difference in their communities through service work or outreach. This year, nominees are requested in two age groups: thirteen to eighteen and nineteen to twenty-six.

The finalists and winners will receive a $1,000 scholarship and an award sculpture. Nominations for the annual award are evaluated on evidence of the nominee's vision, initiative, and dedication in service to others.

The annual award is named for Amy Biehl, a graduate of Santa Fe High School. As a Fulbright Scholar, Amy went to South Africa at the age of twenty-six to help the country's leaders develop a new constitution. In 1993, while conducting voter registration for South Africa's first all-race election—which ended the policies of apartheid—she lost her life.

The deadline for nominations is 3:00 p.m. on February 9. To request a nomination packet by mail, call (505) 244-9505, extension 10, or download the forms at www.nmvoices.org/abysa.htm. The awards ceremony will be on April 20, at the Embassy Suites, in Albuquerque.


Village Academy students step up to the challenge

—PAMELA ENGSTROM, PRINCIPAL, VILLAGE ACADEMY CHARTER SCHOOL
Just a little more than a year ago, the governance council of Village Academy Charter School met with a group of determined parents who wanted to open a new middle school in this area. Some of those parents are now themselves members of the governance council, taking on the challenge of accomplishing the school’s mission.

From hopes and dreams to the actual sound of energetic middle-schoolers walking to their classes, Village Academy is growing into the charter school that was envisioned not so very long ago. Students, staff, and parents are coming together in very positive ways to make VACS a great student-friendly place for kids.

Our students and staff now have access to wireless Internet services, along with new computers, to fully utilize leading technology. A new Native American Student Council complements the work of our VACS Student Council. The parent group has grown tremendously, and the PTA is meeting regularly. Breakfast burritos are served on Mondays, giving VACS students another incentive to get to school early and tackle their classes. In the fall, our students participated in the Bernalillo community parade to earn the school’s first ribbon!

Village Academy is excited about Steve Martinez's Bernalillo-based Bonecrushers dojo, not far from our school. It’s a tough name for a wonderful program that supports our physical-education requirements and teaches personal respect, discipline, and responsibility while building student confidence. An anti-bullying curriculum is part of our students’ martial-arts training to encourage positive behavioral expectations. Those students that demonstrate commitment to academics, as well as the qualities of good character, have an opportunity to earn their black belt free of charge. Shortly, many of them will be ready to demonstrate their skills, and, not long after, will be competing.

More important, however, martial-arts training has already helped students to become more successful in the classroom by improving their personal skills and boosting their confidence. Students are learning what it means to have honor and respect for themselves, and, as a result, they are taking their education more seriously.

The governance council, in an effort to expand students’ perspectives and hone academic skills, has approved a number of new activities to be offered this year. These activities support a variety of student interests, including Navajo language skills, aviation ground-school training, sailing, and ice-skating.

We are currently accepting new student applications and look forward to meeting prospective students and their parents or guardians. Students interested in the VACS experience may choose to “shadow” (accompany) one of our student ambassadors and experience an entire school day with our staff and student body.
Our small class sizes and family-centered school allow us to teach to the individualized pace and needs of each student.

Please note that homeschoolers have options at VACS.

For more information about family-school and other services, call 449-8113 or visit www.villageacademyplacitas.com.


Amateur radio class offered

—CHARLIE CHRISTMANN
The Sandoval County Amateur Radio Emergency Service is offering a class for the amateur-radio technician license Sandoval County Courthouse, in Bernalillo, will teach students what is needed to pass the FCC examination. The cost is $50, which includes training materials and the testing fee. Knowledge of Morse code is not required for the technician license.

Those interested in becoming an Amateur Radio operator can contact SCARES at www.nmscares.org, scares@nmscares.org, or (505) 867-7622.

SCARES is an active service organization associated with the Amateur Radio Emergency Service, Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Service, and the American Radio Relay League. Their mission is to provide emergency communications to Sandoval County, Rio Rancho, and the state of New Mexico through the Sandoval County Office of Emergency Management. Membership is open to any licensed amateur-radio operator.

Examples of SCARES participation in emergency service:

• New Mexico flooding—Summer 2006
• New Mexico wildfires—Summer 2006
• Katrina refugees in New Mexico—2005
• Hurricanes Katrina and Rita—2005
• Four hurricanes in Florida and the Gulf—September 2004
• Forest fires in Sandoval and Lincoln Counties, New Mexico Forest—2003 and 2004
• La Cueva Fire, in New Mexico—March 2003
• Virgin Fire, in New Mexico—June 2003
• Cerro Grande fires, in Los Alamos, New Mexico—May 2000


Placitas Community Library gets new look

—ANNE FROST, BOARD MEMBER, PLACITAS
COMMUNITY LIBRARY

Special thanks go to Andy Graham, the Yaderstats, and all the folks at La Farge for their generous donation of concrete and a finishing crew for our accessibility ramp and garage floor. It was a massive undertaking, and the library received incredible help from many people. Patty Anderson, Pat Eagan, Mary Morell, Judy Gajkowski, Gail DellaPelle, Rebecca and Peter Watson-Boone, and Jim Dick made up our demolition crew. Del Packwood, Peter Watson-Boone, and Jim Dick provided the expertise for the framing and the shelf installation, with some help from Rebecca, Doris Fields, and me. La Farge sent a fabulous finishing crew; Lawrence Gonzales, Juan Antures, and Antonio Quintana. The result: our front walk is now smooth, wide, and inviting, and we have a solid floor to work on and great shelves on which to place your generous donations. Hopefully, we have discouraged the rodent population as well. Please drop by and see our improvements. Again, many, many thanks to all who gave so generously of their time, energy, and expertise.

Speaking of thanks, we are most grateful to all who have joined or renewed their Friends of the Library membership this year. The library board is especially delighted to note that many of you have increased the level of your contribution. Though we receive money from the state and county for books and equipment, your contributions to Friends provide all our operating expenses. As you can tell, we are quite frugal, but the library depends on you. If you have forgotten to send in your Friends membership, please drop a check in the mail now. Our address is P. O. Box 445, Placitas, NM 87043, and your contribution is tax deductible.

We had a delightful visit from Santa Claus during our Holiday Open House. Children and adults alike also enjoyed stories in Spanish and English, piñata-breaking, and a chance to decorate postcards for New Mexico armed forces. Beginning in January, the library will offer two story times each month.

Our regular story time is on the first Friday of each month at 9:30 a.m., and a new bilingual story time is provided by Nora Timmons on the third Tuesday of each month at 3:00 p.m. We are scheduling this one after school to allow older children to attend. No knowledge of Spanish is required, and it is a great opportunity to learn.

LIBRARY HOURS AND DATES TO REMEMBER:

• Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays—10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
• Friday, January 5, 9:30 a.m.—Children's Story Time
• Monday, January 8, 4:00 p.m.—Library book club discusses Henderson the Rain King, by Saul Bellow. These meetings will be held at private homes, due to the cool temperatures in the library. Please call for directions.
• Tuesday, January 16, 3:00 p.m.—Spanish/English Story Time.

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