The Sandoval Signpost

An Independent Monthly Newsmagazine Serving the Community since 1989


Village Academy receives second federal award

The Village Academy Charter School, a new tuition-free public middle school opening in the Placitas-Bernalillo area this fall, has received a Year Two $150,000 federal public charter school grant for fiscal year 2006-2007 from the New Mexico Public Education Department. This is the second award the charter school has received in 2006. These funds are disseminated to assist new charter schools in start-up activities and to provide additional resources for charter school students. VACS council members hope to draw students from the Rio Rancho-Enchanted Hills area, local pueblo communities, Bernalillo, and Placitas.

Village Academy's interim governance council is actively soliciting family participation, as well as individuals interested in becoming new council members for the 2006-7 operating charter school council. Parent involvement and local decision making is a hallmark of charter-school operations. Charter-school governance councils differ from local elected school boards, but council members have significant site-based authority for budgetary and program decisions. Nominations will be taken at the June 14 public governance-council meeting, starting at 7:00 p.m. at San Antonio Mission Church Social Hall. Results will be announced at the next scheduled public meeting, June 28.

Applications also are being accepted for remaining first-year student slots offered in grades six, seven, and eight. To be eligible for consideration, student applications must be submitted to the VACS Governance Council, or postmarked by 5:00 p.m. on June 10. Applications received by June 10 will be entered into the June 14 lottery for possible selection. If slots are still available, another enrollment period may be conducted later in the month, with details of information meetings to be conducted and deadlines for applications announced on the VACS Web site (

The governance council can continue to accept enrollment applications until the first-year maximum enrollment of fifty-four students is reached. Due to the limited availability of first-year slots, families interested in the charter school are strongly encouraged to submit their child's enrollment application as early as possible.

Charter school representatives with informational materials will be available at Placitas Appreciation Day, Saturday, June 3, from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., at Homestead Village. Also, prospective school families may learn more about the Village Academy Charter School's program and obtain an application by visiting or e-mailing Continuing developments in Village Academy's progress will be posted to the Web site, or you may write to Village Academy Charter School, P. O. Box 1247, Placitas, NM 87043-1247, for information.

Bound for Success awards scholarships to BPS students

Bound for Success, Inc., a nonprofit organization, has offered seven scholarships to the Bernalillo Public School High School graduates who received the High Schools That Work Award of Educational Achievement.

Fawn Dolan, executive director of Bound For Success, stated that the organization wanted to recognize the students’ dedication and commitment. “New Mexico, Sandoval County, and Bernalillo have large pockets of poverty. Studies show that where there are pockets of poverty, there is a high percentage of student dropout rates, drug and alcohol abuse, domestic violence and teen pregnancy. These students overcame these obstacles and more. While their teachers influenced them and parents guided and supported them, the ultimate decision to excel was made by the individual student. Our organization believes that their efforts should be compensated, and we were glad to recognize the students’ achievement with a scholarship of $250 per student,” stated Dolan.

“We implore all businesses and organizations to get involved in their community and to support the educational process,” she added. “We are a small grassroots organization and if we can provide monetary incentives, so can the larger companies and businesses.”

Bound for Success congratulates scholarship recipients Joseph P. C de Baca, Ensley L. Aguilar, Desiree J. Cordova, Derek M Lucero, Sheyen N Martinez, Pedro F Vaquero, and Elizabeth O Wheelock.

Optimist Club de Sandoval expands Summer Fun Camp

The Optimist Club willing be holding their annual Summer Fun Camp at San Antonio Mission Community Center from July 10 to 14. This fun and educational camp invites children in two groups, from five to eight years old and nine to thirteen years old to join in a week of fun. The hours of the camp are 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., and the cost is $30. We are planning trips to the Explora Museum, in Albuquerque, the Albuquerque Zoo, and other exciting places as we combine science and nature study together for a great week. For information on the summer camp or to register your child, please call Fran Stephens, at 867 3077, Nancy Hawks, at 771-4931, or Snow Moore Watson, at 867-2047.

The Placitas Elementary JOOI Club finished the school year with a celebratory ice-cream party and each member received a certificate for their outstanding acts of community involvement. The third-to-fifth graders have donated to the New Mexico National Guard stationed in Iraq and Afghanistan, sent items to the pediatric ward of Presbyterian Hospital, and worked with the adult group on Blessings Day donating items to needy children. The children also donated $75 to the Placitas Elementary School. After meeting with the principal, Chris Werenko, the children decided to give money to purchase some small playground equipment. We wish to congratulate all our fifth graders going on to middle school.

The Alpha Club, which consists of kindergartners and first and second graders, received a Keep New Mexico Beautiful Grant, with which they bought four large trees. Previously, they had received a Coronado Soil and Water Conservation District Grant to begin a water-harvesting project. This new grant complements the older one. All of this work has been done at the Placitas Elementary School.

The Optimist Club de Sandoval has just chartered a cub scout pack. For meeting times and information, call John Dawkins, at 867 6666. Plans are underway for summer meetings and a great Fall schedule.

Anyone interested in joining Optimist Club de Sandoval, please call president Russ Fisher Ives, at 867-2007. We are also looking for volunteers to help with the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair throughout the summer months at the ISEF building, on the corner of El Presidente and Camino Del Pueblo, Bernalillo.

Passengers ready to board the Rail Runner

BPS superintendent Barbara Vigil-Lowder, Gabriel Archibeque, and her mother, Denisa Archibeque, get ready to board the Rail Runner.

Carroll third grader wins Rail Runner calendar-cover contest

Gabriel Archibeque, third grader at Carroll Elementary, in Bernalillo, was the calendar-cover winner of the Rail Runner Calendar art contest. Gabriel’s work will grace the cover of the eighteen-month calendar, which will begin with July 2006. Gary Sanchez, Carroll Elementary art teacher, is proud that nine of his students were winners in the contest. The eight other students whose artwork will be inside the calendar are Keegan Fisher, Rachel Martinez, Jennie, Nathelie Garcia, Anselmo Placarte, Christopher Gibson, Jovanna Gonzales, and Michael Candelaria.

Placitas Library celebrates Birthday Bash

In conjunction with Placitas Appreciation Day, the volunteers of the Placitas Community Library invite you to their second annual Birthday Bash, on Saturday, June 3, from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.

Pepi's Pet Parade will step it off at 11:00 a.m. (gather in the back parking area) to the music of the Howling Dog Dixieland Band, which will play from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. Magician Kangaroo Katie will entertain the young and young at heart from 1:00 to 2:00 p.m. with “A Magical Salute to the Wonders of Reading.” The celebration will include a bargain-book sale, a plant sale with rare and native plants, and a raffle announcing prizes every half an hour. Placitas Animal Rescue will offer pets for adoption all day, while the library offers birthday cake, cookies, and other refreshments.

Library Story Time will be held on Thursday mornings, from 10:00 to 11:30, beginning June 8. The library invites you to stop by with your small one for a reading-and-craft activity on “Lasting Impressions” any Thursday through August 10.
The Placitas Community Library (867-3355) is across from the Merc, at 1 Tierra Madre.

Summer reading fun for children at the Placitas Library

Calling all kids! The Placitas Library will be having a weekly story time along with a related hands-on project this summer. One of the sessions planned is a Placitas Petroglyph Field Trip for both parents and children. The story-time program will take place on Thursday mornings from 10:00 to 11:30, beginning June 8 and running through August 10. The programs will be geared for children from three to eight years old, but all children are welcome. It is not necessary to register beforehand. Join us as we share the magical world of books!

The Placitas Library will also be sponsoring a Reading Challenge Program. Children of all ages who register for the program will be reading books (or have books read to them, in the case of younger children) that will count towards the library goal. We will be marking our progress throughout the summer and celebrate all our reading with a party at summer’s end. Registration will be at the library’s Birthday Bash, on Saturday, June 3. Children may also register any day after that during library hours. Upon registration, participants will receive a packet with a bookmark, reading log, book lists, and more. Small prizes and certificates will be passed out at the end of summer to all. We are hoping to have lots of young readers to help us reach our goal.

Youth program conveys life skills through golf

The First Tee of Central New Mexico is accepting registrations for its 2006 season, with the first summer session beginning on May 30. The not-for-profit organization based at the Santa Ana Golf Club provides instruction in life skills and golf skills to local boys and girls from six through eighteen years of age.

Through the Life Skills Experience, participants learn valuable lessons about the importance of maintaining a positive attitude; how to make decisions by thinking about the possible consequences; how to define and set goals; and how to transfer values such as responsibility, honesty, integrity, respect, confidence, and sportsmanship from the golf course to everyday life.

These lessons for life are taught through a variety of golf-related exercises designed with the primary goal of having fun. Participants learn about themselves and others through a range of experiences that enhance their golf fundamentals as well as their fundamental values for life. As their opportunities on the golf course expand, so do the opportunities for their futures.

The First Tee is offering summer classes at both Santa Ana and Twin Warriors Golf Clubs. The cost at time of sign-up is $75. Golf equipment is furnished for participants who do not have their own. In addition to the group instruction, students receive free rounds of golf, additional discounted rounds of golf, and reduced-cost range balls.

For the best choice of sessions, early registration is encouraged. For a registration form and full information about the program, go to The First Tee, at Santa Ana Golf Club (771-1762) is open from 1 to -2:00 p.m. Mondays, 2:00 to 6:00 p.m. Wednesdays, and 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. on Saturdays.

The public is also invited to participate by way of tax-deductible donations, sponsorship, and volunteering.

Beading benefits literacy program

ReadWest, the local nonprofit literacy agency in Rio Rancho, the New Mexico Bead Society, and the New Mexico Bead Trader are joining forces to raise money for the adult and family literacy programs provided at no cost to over five hundred families in the Rio Rancho community each year.

The program, to be held on Saturday, June 3, from 9:00 a.m. to noon, costs $25 per person and includes all materials necessary to create a beautiful stringed necklace to take home. The fund-raiser will be held at the ReadWest facility, 2009 Grande Boulevard, in Rio Rancho. ReadWest is a United Way-funded agency. For more information, contact Susan Ryerson, at ReadWest, 892-1131 or

Santo Domingo after-school program attracts national attention

Tenderness, smiles, creativity and an interest in learning are evident during the 21st Century KEWA After-School Program at Santo Domingo School. This unique after-school program provides children from kindergarten to eighth grade with academic tutoring and a choice of several enrichment programs ranging from pottery and jewelry making to Robotics and Computers.

This unique after-school program recently gained the attention of the Southwest Educational Development Laboratory (SEDL). SEDL sent a representative to the school to gather information for an article about best practices of after-school programs. The article will be published in the SEDL Magazine's May edition. SEDL is a national non-profit education research organization dedicated to improving teaching and learning.

“We are all very proud that Santo Domingo School has received both regional and national recognition,” said Superintendent Barbara Vigil-Lowder. “In addition to the SEDL visit, Co-Principal Bryan Garcia and I were recently invited to speak about the school's best practices in closing the achievement gap and meeting No Child Left Behind requirements at the Southwest Comprehensive Conference.” Santo Domingo School also received the School on the Rise award in January by Governor Bill Richardson for continuous academic improvement.

Some of the unique experiences the 21st Century After-School Program has brought to Santo Domingo students include a trip to the Lensic Theatre to see the Nut Cracker Ballet hosted by the Pueblo Opera Program/Santa Fe Opera and dance lessons from a dance artist sponsored by the Georgia O'Keeffe Museum. Scholars and authors have also visited, bringing with them books and other gifts.

The after-school program serves between 70 and 150 students, the latter during the Summer Academy when Cochiti students are invited to join.

State Seeking Bids for New Pre-K Programs

Governor Bill Richardson’s successful Pre-K program will be expanded to reach as many as 2,000 four-year-olds next year as a result of $8 million approved during the recent legislative session.

The Children, Youth and Families Department and the Public Education Department this week published a formal Request for Proposals (RFP), inviting qualified providers and schools to apply for state money for new Pre-K programs. Notification letters have also been sent to CYFD licensed providers, local education agencies, regional educational cooperatives, charter schools, and Native American Tribes.

A letter of intent to apply for the RFP is due by April 11, 2006. All proposals must be received by no later than 3 p.m. on Thursday, May 11. The contract shall begin on July 1, 2006, and end on June 30, 2007. The RFP will provide complete instructions about what is need to submit a Pre-K proposal.
Governor Richardson successfully kicked off the state’s Pre-K program in 2005 with $5 million that enabled about 1,500 four-year-olds to access quality Pre-K in 23 communities across New Mexico. Another 500 four-year-olds will have the opportunity to benefit from quality Pre-K programs next school year, bringing the total number of children served to as many as 2,000.

New Mexico Pre-K is a voluntary program for children who reach the age of four prior to September 1. Many studies have shown that participation in quality pre-kindergarten has a positive effect on the intellectual, emotional, social and physical development of young children and lays the foundation for a successful educational career. Studies also show that every dollar invested today is likely to save at least $7-dollars down the road in social services, intervention programs and special education programs.

Secretary of Education, Dr. Veronica C. García, whose department administers Pre-K funding to public schools said, “Since I took office, I promised Governor Richardson, that closing the achievement gap would be my number one priority. High quality Pre-Kindergarten programs have been shown to dramatically affect literacy rates and help close the achievement gap. A key component of our education reform initiative: Making Schools Work, deals with ensuring that students are ready to learn when they begin school. PreK provides the proper foundation so that students are ready to begin kindergarten. I am excited about this year’s expansion of the PreK initiative, and I look forward to the day when every eligible four year old in New Mexico has access to a high quality PreK program in their area.”

Interim CYFD Secretary Dorian Dodson, whose department administers Pre-K funding for private providers, said the additional money will encourage communities throughout New Mexico to apply for funding through a competitive bidding process. “We are grateful to Governor Richardson and the Legislature for making early childhood education a priority so that we provide our little ones with the solid foundation on which to build a strong education in elementary school and beyond,” Dodson said. “Through our collaboration with the Public Education Department we are not only increasing reimbursements to providers, but also access to a PreK education for our children.”

This year’s competition is expected to be stiffer as a result of the significant response to last year’s RFP process. This year funding will also be available for instructional materials such as easels and other items, as well as for transportation and startup costs.
The RFP is available New Mexico PreK website, at The website also has information about a pre-proposal conference on April 6th, PreK program standards, and grant writing and technical assistance tips.

For more information, please contact Richard LaPan at 827-6561 (, or Judith Paiz at 827-7689 (



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