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An Independent Monthly Newspaper Serving the Community since 1988


Village Academy Charter School hires new principal

Arrow Wilkinson has been hired as principal of the Village Academy Charter School (VACS) located in Bernalillo, following three years as an assistant principal/athletic director and early college coordinator at the Walatowa High Charter School in Jemez Pueblo. Prior to that, Wilkinson worked at Southwestern Indian Polytechnic Institute Tribal College, where he served as the director of admissions and records, director of housing /recreation, and academic advisor. 

Wilkinson is currently a doctoral student at New Mexico State University (NMSU). He also holds a masters degree in education administration from NMSU and a bachelors of science from Oklahoma City University. He has teaching licenses in Texas and New Mexico in special education and administration. Wilkinson began his career in education on the Ft. Berthold Indian Reservation in North Dakota as an educational assistant and spent seven years as a special education teacher at Burgess High School in El Paso, Texas. 

“I am fortunate to walk into a school with a very experienced and professional faculty and staff. It is a great opportunity for me to get to know the unique communities that our students come from and how we can better serve them educationally,” says Wilkinson.  

The Village Academy Charter School is a tuition-free public charter school, available to students in grades 6-8. The school provides core knowledge, challenging content-based curriculum, cultural and experiential learning activities, and quality after-school programs. It serves students from Bernalillo, Corrales, Placitas, Rio Rancho, and Sandia and Santa Ana Pueblos. 

Dual enrollment allows New Mexico high school students to take UNM courses

Students who want more from their time in high school can enroll for dual credit courses at the University of New Mexico (UNM). UNM is accepting high school students in a dual enrollment program that allows students to get high school and college credit for taking courses.

Tuition is paid by the state of New Mexico, and school districts can be reimbursed by the state for providing textbooks. Those students who started the 9th grade in 2009-2010 will be required to take at least one dual credit, honors, advanced placement, or distance learning course in order to graduate from a New Mexico public high school as part of a statewide effort to push more students toward a college career.

UNM is making it easier for high school students across the state by allowing them to enroll in Extended University distance learning courses. Extended University has also agreed to waive the $100 course fee attached to online courses for those students eligible for the dual credit program.

For some students, it may simply be a new graduation requirement; for others, it is an opportunity that opens new doors. Lesly Ruelas will be a senior at Highlands High School next year, but she’s already taken a number of college courses and will be able to enter UNM as a sophomore after she graduates from Highland in spring 2011. Students who begin dual enrollment early may accumulate enough credits to enter UNM as juniors when they graduate from high school.

There’s a big financial incentive for dual credit students. Their college tuition and textbook costs are paid by the school district, as long as they are enrolled in a participating New Mexico high school or charter school. Homeschooled and private school students may also enroll at UNM, but they do not receive the same tuition reimbursement from the state.

The New Mexico Lottery Scholarship is a recurring tuition award, which may be given for eight consecutive semesters. The qualifying semester for this scholarship is a student’s first semester attending a college or university after the awarding of a high school diploma or GED. Dual credit coursework will not be used in determining initial eligibility for this scholarship, but credits and grades will be factored into a student’s cumulative grade point average. The lottery scholarship can be used to cover tuition costs for eight semesters, as long as a 2.5 grade point average is maintained, and the student earns 12 new hours each semester. Dual credit students who complete their undergraduate degree requirements early may use their remaining lottery scholarship money to cover part of the cost of a graduate degree.

Scott Karlman, program coordinator for the dual credit program in the University Advisement Center, says the program is now attracting interest from students in rural New Mexico. He just worked out an agreement with the Cloudcroft School District so a high school student in that district can attend UNM through a distance learning class.

He says, “This is a wonderful opportunity for students to get a head start on completing some of their college courses. It should be especially helpful for students in rural areas who want to take courses in areas their high school may not offer.” Any student who wants more information about the dual credit program can find it at the UNM dual credit Web site:

September children’s events at the Placitas Community Library

—Nora Timmons

Come join us in September at the Placitas Community Library (PCL) as we begin our regularly scheduled story hours. The Pre-K Story Hour will be held on the second and fourth Thursdays of each month, with the exception of November. Starting time is 10:00 a.m. We are delighted to tell you that we have several new readers, along with many of our long time dedicated volunteers to entertain and delight your children with a variety of stories and activities. Our always exciting and diverse Bilingual Story Hour (Spanish and English) begins on Tuesday, September 14 at 3:00 p.m. The first book is Playing Loteria, followed by a rousing game of Mexican bingo, complete with prizes. The book will be read completely in both languages. This activity will be held the second Tuesday of each month. Our third regularly scheduled activity is the very popular Kids’ Book Club. It is held the third Tuesday of each month at 3:00 p.m. Children will have input as to the books read and discussed, so attend the first session on September 21, and let us know what you want to read. Hurry—this one fills up fast!

A special Saturday activity for September 25 is in the planning stage, so contact the library at (505) 867-3355, or check our Web site for details as they become available.

Once more, we want to thank all who participated in our Summer Reading Program that came to a close on July 29 with a grand celebration for our enthusiastic young readers. We had more than 160 children participate, representing more than 43 different families. Each child who participated in our annual Summer Reading Challenge, by turning in their reading logs and accumulating stickers, received a bag of prizes, as well as an age appropriate book. What an amazing amount of reading was going on this summer! Over 1,445 books were read by our young readers. As part of our July 29 celebration, local juggler, Chris Enright, kept children and adults enthralled with amazing juggling feats. Besides entertaining his audience, Chris shared the fascinating history of juggling around the world. To round off the morning’s festivities, a celebratory cake was shared by all out in the back courtyard. We all had a great summer, making a “splash” and reading while planting a garden, reading about pirates, learning about whales, rainbows, and wetlands, experimenting with water, and so much more. In addition, our Story Time Yoga was a big success, with 27 participants, and our family board game days began this year offering games of strategy to teens and adults, as well as to younger children. These programs are coming again soon! Check at the library for dates and times.

Join us this autumn and winter when we celebrate El Día de los Muertos (The Day of the Dead), the holiday season, and lunar New Year, as well as explore new books from our We the People bookshelf. There will be classes in beading, juggling, and much more. See you soon at the Placitas Community Library.          






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