Sandoval Signpost

An Independent Monthly Newspaper Serving the Community since 1988


poster by Josie Espinosa

Placitas Elementary Principal Dan MacEachen announces fifth grader Josie Espinoza as the winner of the local Arbor Day National Poster Contest.

A new “student” artist recognized in Placitas

The state-wide winner of the 2010 Arbor Day National Poster Contest was recognized April 27 at Placitas Elementary School. Josie Espinoza, a fifth grade student in Mr. Vince Sheehan’s class, took top honors with her artwork, edging out all other entries in the State of New Mexico.

The Arbor Day Foundation, which began in 1972 to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the first Arbor Day, invited fifth grade students from 46 states and the District of Columbia to show their interpretation of how “Trees are Terrific… In Cities and Towns!”

On behalf of the Foundation and their four regional partners, Keep New Mexico Beautiful, New Mexico State Forestry, Tree New Mexico, and Public Service Company of New Mexico, Placitas Elementary School Principle, Dan MacEachen, presented Josie with her awards in front of her peers and teachers.

The Arbor Day Foundation is one of the world’s largest nonprofit conservation organizations dedicated to planting trees. The Foundation plants and distributes more than 10 million trees each year. They work with the U.S. Forest Service to plant trees in America’s national forests and the National Association of State Foresters to plant trees in state forests. Through the generous donations of their members and partners, the Foundation has helped the Forest Service plant more than 18 million forestland trees since 1990.

To learn more about the Arbor Day Foundation visit,

Six Bernalillo High School students show over 700 students how science is done

The 50th Annual Central New Mexico Science & Engineering Research Challenge was held on March 19-21 at the University of New Mexico’s Johnson Center and Student Union Building. Close to 700 middle and high school students exhibited science fair projects and competed for nearly $60,000 in prizes and scholarships. Six Bernalillo High School students took home prizes.

For his project on Thermal Oceanic Comparisons, Brandon J. Casaus received a 1st Place Certificate from the American Meteorological Society, a 1st Place $100 savings bond from the Central New Mexico Audubon Society, a 1st Place certificate from the Stockholm Water Environment Federation, and a 1st Place certificate and $50 cash award from the United States Navy and Marine Corps.

The Albuquerque African Violet Club awarded Holden C. Hyer’s 1st Place for his project, Get the Lead Out (about phytoremediation or using plants to extract pollutants from the soil), and invited him to display the project at the African Violet Show in April. In addition to taking “Top of Category” in his division, he also received the 1st Place $150 Angelo Brunacini Award, the 1st Place $100 Argus Invest Realty Award, the $100 1st Place Dave and Rhonda Hill Award, a $150 1st Place award from the New Mexico Society of Hazardous Materials Managers and a $100 1st Place award from Shaw Environmental, Inc.

Clayton J. Pankey was awarded “Top of Category” in the Senior Division Chemistry category and received a certificate and Honorable Mention medal.

Gabriela A. Ruiz’s project, Soundproofing Using Common Household Items earned her a 1st Place certificate and $50 cash award from Keep New Mexico Beautiful, Inc.

Mary Jo Griffin received a $25 1st Place award from Amuro Montoya Memorial Encouragement, $50 1st Place award from New Mexico Speech, Language and Hearing, and a $75 1st Place award from Turri Productions. 

For his Desirable Concrete Project, Michael A. Ward received $200 for 1st Place in the Dekker/Perich/Sabatini Engineering Excellence Award, $100 and 1st Place from Jim and LeAnne Smith Real Estate, $25 and 1st Place from the Mauro Montoya Memorial Encouragement Award, $100 and 1st Place from SMPC Architects, and $100 and 1st Place from the West Wood Realty LLC Award.

 And for her efforts, Bernalillo High School teacher, Robin Verdugo received the Teacher Award from the New Mexico Society of Hazardous Materials Managers.

Science fairs promote enthusiasm for science, help improve speaking and writing abilities, expose students to new, fascinating innovations and ideas in the scientific world and introduce practical application of the scientific method. Students involved in science fairs gain knowledge as well as college scholarships, world travel, employment, occupational goals, cash awards, and many other benefits. Whether students experience it at the local, regional, state, or even international level, each and every participant gains something more in his or her life.

Our congratulations go out to all the winners … Keep up the good work … we are proud of you.

Summer reading program kickoff at the Grand Opening of the Placitas Library

—Nancy Guist, Children’s Services Coordinator

It is time once again for the Summer Reading Program Kickoff at the Placitas Community Library. This year, however, it will occur in a most special setting. It will be one of the events at the Grand Opening of the new Placitas Library, 453 Highway 165, on Saturday, May 22, from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.

To highlight our program kickoff, we will be welcoming Johnny Moon, The Magical Teacher, who will be presenting a magic show called “The Magic Splash” at 12:30 p.m. Johnny’s performance will be the perfect introduction to our summer reading program’s theme, “Make a Splash – READ!” His educational program will include amazing liquid experiments and magical effects—“Liquid tricks that make you laugh, learn, and want to read all about it!” according to Johnny himself.

 Children will also be able to register for our annual Summer Reading Challenge. This is a program which encourages and supports summer reading. Themed pocket folders will be available chock full of items for summer reading fun, from book logs to bookmarks and “Make a Splash” door hangers. Not only will children keep track of their own summer reading, but they will contribute to our traditional library reading goal as well.

 In addition, this is the perfect time to pick up a flier detailing the weekly summer reading programs to be held every Thursday morning from 10:00 to 11:30 a.m., beginning June 3 and ending with our Summer Reading Celebration on July 29. Information will also be available on other summer events for children and families, such as the beginning of a monthly program, “Read to the Dog.”  In fact, Spencer, an English Setter and therapy dog, along with his owner and trainer, Patrice Schooley, will be at the library on May 22 to explain this new program.

May 22 will be a day of celebration for the Placitas community. We hope to see you there.

Iris Toribio from Zia Pueblo happily accepts the Futures for Children, through the Bayard LeRoy King Scholars Fund, $2,000 award.

Awards designed to give students that extra boost before college

—Alicia Marcell, Development Coordinator, Futures for Children

Futures for Children, through the Bayard LeRoy King Scholars Fund, provided $2,000 awards to two high school juniors involved with Futures through the Friendship (mentorship) Program. The award was designed to help the winning students pay for expenses related to preparing for college attendance. We believe that this award will help these students not only gain entry into their desired schools, but also help prepare them for their postsecondary endeavors. Each student who applied submitted an application, a recent report card, letters of reference, and an essay.

Each essay was filled with inspiration about their desire to attend college and what college admittance means to each of them. The common themes in the essays were creating successful futures for themselves, being an example to the younger generations in their communities, and acquiring knowledge. The applicants chose to strive daily towards educational achievement and do so, successfully, through determination, mentor encouragement, family inspiration, and sheer will and drive.

Many students applied for the award, making it especially difficult to choose only two from such an exemplary group. After the selection process, Iris Toribio from Zia Pueblo (mentored by Karon Myers) and Steven Mora from Jemez Pueblo (mentored by Don and Sandy Massey) were selected as the award recipients. Iris and Steven demonstrated in their applications how they harmonize learning about their cultural traditions and obtaining a modern education.

 Iris is truly a model student at Bernalillo High School, with an amazing 3.9 GPA. Iris is a member of the National Honor Society, the Pueblo of Zia Youth Group, and serves as the co-vice president and treasurer of the American Indian Science and Engineering Society (AISES) Pre-College Affiliated Group. In addition to her academic and club involvement, Iris participates in the many cultural events of her pueblo and volunteers for community cleanups. To fulfill her college aspirations, she plans to apply to the University of New Mexico, New Mexico State University, and Fort Lewis College. As a student, teenager, daughter, mentee, and community member, Iris pulls from all of her resources and abilities to be an accomplished student and a positive contributing member of her community.

The other, equally commendable, recipient of the award is Steven Mora a student at Santa Fe Indian School. As a high school junior, Steven maintains a 4.0 GPA and is a member of the Green Team Club, the Debate Club, the Peer Tutoring Organization, and the Dormitory Proctor Organization. Steven not only balances and excels in his studies and club memberships, but he also participates in several sports, including the cross-country, basketball, and baseball teams. If Steven was not busy enough, he also assists in community cleanups and partakes in a number of traditional and cultural activities and events. In his endeavor to continue his academic accomplishments, Steven plans to apply to Duke University, Stanford University, the University of Hawaii, and New Mexico State University.

Each and every applicant was an example of success, accomplishment, and unbreakable drive to succeed in their endeavors. We thank every student who applied for the fund, and we are so grateful to be able to offer this wonderful opportunity through the Bayard LeRoy King Scholars Fund to juniors in the Friendship Program.

Futures for Children is a nonprofit organization that enhances the quality of the educational experience for American Indian students through mentoring and leadership development. Many Hopi, Navajo, and Pueblo communities are served throughout New Mexico and Arizona, an area in excess of 3,000 square miles. Futures’ hope is that every American Indian student has the self-confidence to realize and achieve their dreams through education.

High-schoolers take the financial capability challenge

—Jason Alderman

In a major crisis, our first impulse is to address people’s immediate needs. With the Haiti and Chile earthquakes, that meant providing food and shelter to the victims. In the case of the recent economic recession, the government stepped in by extending unemployment insurance, providing COBRA subsidies and promoting mortgage refinancing guidelines, among many other programs.

Once the dust settles on pressing concerns, a more long-range approach kicks in—we step back and ask questions like, “How did we arrive at this state?” and “How can we all keep from making the same mistakes again?”

Part of the solution is to strengthen our financial education programs so that today’s children and teenagers are better equipped to manage their own finances and avoid the mistakes of their parents. Many studies have shown that young adults display much lower financial literacy than older generations.

Neal Wolin, Deputy Secretary of the U.S. Department of the Treasury, notes, “The government is moving forward with financial reform and strong protection for consumers, but we must also do a better job of making sure our high school students graduate with a better understanding of basic economics, basic finance, and the benefits and risks associated with debt.”

In that spirit, the Departments of Treasury and Education jointly launched the National Financial Capability Challenge, a nationwide award program aimed at increasing the financial knowledge and capability of high school-aged students. The Challenge inspires students to take control of their financial future by learning more about personal finances and challenges teachers and schools to incorporate important financial information into their curricula.

Across the country, thousands of teachers, schools, home-school parents, youth group leaders, and others were recruited to enroll and prepare their students for the program. Educators were provided with a free educational toolkit to supplement other materials they may already use.

The Challenge, which wraps up in April, culminates in a voluntary, thirty-minute online exam. The top two scorers at each school, as well as all students who score in the top twenty percent, will receive personalized award certificates. Educators from schools and states with the highest participation rates also will be recognized. “We’re very pleased by the favorable response we’ve received, and eagerly await the final exam results,” says Wolin.

Numerous other government- and private sector-sponsored financial literacy initiatives are also underway. For example, on April 19, the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago and Visa Inc. co-hosted the fourth annual Financial Literacy and Education Summit whose theme is “Advancing Financial Stability and Responsibility.”

The program featured leading financial literacy experts who addressed key issues in the fields of education and personal finance, such as how we can improve our collective economic health and how to bolster our shared commitment to global financial education. Among the many experts who spoke at the Summit were Wolin’s Treasury colleague Michelle Greene, the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Financial Education and Financial Access. To register to watch the free live Summit broadcast and stay informed about event details, visit:

Prom and graduation: Don’t let the celebration become a tragedy

—13th Judicial District Attorney

Spring is in the air and that means prom and graduation are not far off. Unfortunately, the coming of spring also heralds another tradition—prom and graduation parties where teens may gain access to alcohol, sometimes pro-vided by parents. For high school students, spring can be the happiest and most memorable time of the year—but it could also be disaster.

Why should parents be concerned?

Alcohol used by teens leads to many costly consequences, all of them preventable. Underage alcohol use is related to traffic crashes, crime, teenage pregnancies, sexually transmitted diseases, suicides, drowning, and poor performance in school. According to the National Traffic Safety Administration traffic fatalities are on the rise during the spring months and a lot has to do with alcohol-related incidents.

Teens say that adults are their primary source of alcohol

In fact, 2007 Minnesota Student Survey stated that one out of six twelfth-graders who drank alcohol in the past month said that a family member provided the alcohol. The sixth and ninth graders who drank alcohol in the past thirty days reported even higher rates, with one in four ninth-graders and nearly one in two sixth-graders reporting receiving alcohol in the past month from family members.

Adults who provide alcohol to teens also face criminal and civil consequences. In New Mexico, adults who provide alcohol can be charged with a fourth degree felony, can serve up to 18 months in custody, and pay a fine of $5,000.00. In addition, any adult who provides alcohol to an underage drinker can be sued for any damages that result.

Parents and adults can prevent underage alcohol use

Never buy alcohol for teens that are under the age of 21. Do not allow teens to have parties with alcohol on your property. Network with other parents/adults and let them know that you do not want alcohol available. Tell your teen that it is against family rules for them to drink alcohol. Talk and listen to your children. Be straightforward and honest with them about the real impact of alcohol. If you choose alcohol, use it responsibly. Remember, you are your child’s role model. Let law enforcement know about any establishment or people providing alcohol to anyone under 21.

Teens have worked hard to make it to their prom and graduation and deserve to have a good time. But as adults and parents, we need to remind them of reckless decisions they may make could impact the rest of their lives and ours as adults and parents.






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