A little boy showed up alone in the doorway of the new $20 million Judy Nelson Elementary School. He had tears in his eyes, was scared, and barely spoke. He was one of the last students to arrive. It was Jan. 3, 2017—the first day in the new school.
Judy Nelson—standing in the school’s doorway—had greeted students as they arrived. On the wall behind her was a bronze plaque with the name of the school—her name—on it. It was 8 a.m. and most of the school’s 595 students were now in their new classrooms.
Ms. Nelson was never a teacher, but she carries the same message of unconditional love, compassion, and caring for students. She began that message in 1967 when she was hired as secretary of Grace B. Wilson Elementary School in Kirtland—a position she kept for 50 school years before retiring in June 2016.
The Central Consolidated School District Maintenance Department worker was playing the guitar while singing a variety of Christmas songs on the CCSD float during the Dec. 9, 2016 Shiprock Parade of Lights, which began at 6 p.m. at the Shiprock Chapter parking lot after it was dark.
The temperature was around the freezing mark. Arnold couldn’t cover his ears—a musician has to be able to hear his music as he plays.
Proving one is never too old to be a kid at Christmas, the Maintenance Department put together an “I’ll be Home for Christmas” float depicting a reindeer pulling Santa’s sled. Maintenance workers and their families on the float waved and tossed candy to children standing on the sidewalk with their parents.
Jeremiah Powless watched his 5-year-old son cover a gingerbread house with icing and then with candy. The gingerbread house was actually graham crackers stuck to a tiny milk carton with marshmallow cream.
It turns out that education can be good for the stomach—as well for the intellect and parent-child bonding.
The Kirtland Early Childhood Center father took time off of work December 13, 2016 to be with his son. Parents, guardians, and children filled the KECC cafeteria working on their Christmas projects.
“I’m a working professional. But I think it’s very important to make time for your children,” Powless said. “These are the type of activities they’re going to remember. So it’s really important to my wife and I—we both work—that one of us always show up.”
The songs and lights of the Christmas season can be a magical time for both children and adults, filling us with memories of Christmas past and with new memories.
Schools throughout the Central Consolidated School District held holiday music programs for two weeks in December at the District’s Phil Thomas Performing Arts Center in Shiprock, the Brooks/Isham Performing Arts Center in Kirtland, and at the schools themselves.
Tse’ Bit Ai’ Middle School featured its Jazz Band students, Intermediate Band, and Advanced Band in a Dec. 5, 2016 Winter Concert at the Phil Thomas Performing Arts Center. It followed up with its Beginning Band students performing Dec. 8 in the same location.
“What I liked best about the performance was all of us being together to show the community what we could do, where our talents are in school, and how music is important to education,” said Jacob Harvey, an 8th grader in the Advanced Band at Tse’ Bit Ai’ Middle School in Shiprock.
We are excited to have a brand new, state-of-the-art learning facility for our students!
As part of our efforts to help students and parents become familiar with the new surroundings, we will be hosting a “New School Orientation Reception” for students, parents and community on Wednesday, December 14, 2016. The new school will be open from 4 to 7 p.m. to allow interested individuals to do a walkthrough of the building.
We will use the time to also thank the architects, builders and construction companies who worked tirelessly to complete the building for our children. We hope that you will take some time out of your busy schedules to visit the new school.
Our work to get our students prepared to occupy their new school will also include a “Dry Run Day” on Thursday, December 15, 2016. This day will require parents and buses to drop-off and pick-up students at the new school. We have attached a map of the new school traffic pattern for you to follow when dropping off and picking up your students on that day.
It will be a brighter Christmas morning for many San Juan County children thanks to Shiprock High Marine Corps Jr. ROTC cadets collecting new toys for the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots in San Juan County, New Mexico.
“This is kids helping kids. A lot of these toys are going to go to the indigent families in the area,” said Jason Crawford, a Marine Corps veteran and the Toys for Tots coordinator in San Juan County. “A lot of the layoffs that have happened this year, people being unemployed. It’s hard times around there because of our gas field.”
The cadets—for the third Saturday—will be collecting new toys Dec. 10, 2016 at both Farmington Wal-Marts, Kmart, Big Lots, Sam’s Club, and Sportsman’s Warehouse. Twenty-five Shiprock High cadets also collected toys and monetary donations Nov. 26 and Dec. 3 at those locations.
Army Ranger Staff Sgt. Quentin Mason, an Ojo Amarillo Elementary School parent and a veteran who served three tours in Iraq and one in Afghanistan, sat with other parents in the bleachers during the school’s annual Veterans Day ceremony, held Nov. 11, 2016, in the gymnasium.
More than 500 students from kindergarten through the fifth grade—the entire school—performed a variety of songs following the posting of the Colors by the Upper Fruitland Veterans Association Color Guard.
The National Anthem was sung by a student in Navajo and English. Students also sang God Bless America, You’re a Grand Old Flag, and Yankee Doodle.
“The beginning when the Flag came in, seeing the Colors, and the kids singing got emotional for me. I’m usually not emotional. I don’t know why,” Mason said. “I always teach my kids about that, being a veteran, to respect it.”
Trees, Gym, and Music Room—Saved from Ruth N. Bond Elementary—Are Now Part of the New Judy Nelson Elementary School
A tree that stood in front of Ruth N. Bond Elementary now stands in front of the new Judy Nelson Elementary School.
The tree never moved—just the schools.
The tree, boxed in by a chain-link fence for protection from being run over by earth movers, survived the demolition of Ruth N. Bond Elementary in the fall of 2015 and the construction of Judy Nelson Elementary in 2016 on its footprint.
The gymnasium and music room were also kept, as well as large mature trees across from the front of the gym and on the playgrounds in the back of the school.
Principal Steve Carlson Reflects on Receiving the National Distinguished Principal for New Mexico Award
Principal Steve Carlson attributes his school’s success to his students and staff.
Judy Nelson Elementary earned an A on the New Mexico Public Education Department’s 2016 School Grade Report Card, while Carlson received a 2016 National Distinguished Principal Award for New Mexico from the National Association of Elementary School Principals.
“It’s an incredibly big honor … but it’s really not about me,” Carlson said about the principal award. “It’s more of an honor that speaks to the entire staff and the people I’ve had the privilege of working with over the years.”
Judy Nelson Elementary School exceeded the statewide benchmark on its 2016 School Report Card for school growth—its improved student performance and its current standing—as well as growth of its highest performing students, and for its opportunity to learn.
The description of a rooster by a Naschitti Elementary student drew laughter from several Navajo Nation Council delegates and audience members when the student, holding a puppet Rooster, said in Navajo, “I am a rooster. I eat corn and I wake up people.”
The Council delegates quietly smiled as they watched Naschitti Elementary students perform Winter Stories in the Dine language. It was Oct. 18, 2016—day two of the Navajo Nation Council’s Fall Session in the Council Chamber in the Navajo Nation capital in Window Rock, Arizona.
“They really enjoy participating. … The kids all know their self-identify, especially their Clans, where they’re coming from, who their relatives are,” said Naschitti Elementary bilingual teacher Alverna Smith.
“They’re proud to be Dine. They feel confident about themselves,” she added.
Ojo Amarillo Elementary School awarded approximately 150 certificates to students in grades 4th, 5th, and 6th for demonstrating proficiency and / or growth on their PARCC assessment scores for math and / or English Language Arts from 2015 to 2016.
The Ojo Amarillo Elementary ceremony, which took placed in a packed gymnasium full of parents, students, and staff, was part of the District’s PARCC Pride Day—held Sept. 23, 2016—for all 15 schools. Some Central Consolidated School District schools celebrated on different days.
“The students are very proud,” Ojo Amarillo Elementary Principal Abena McNeely said about receiving the certificates. They took the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, known as PARCC, last spring.
The Superintendent Academic Excellence Award for Academic Achievement on the PARCC certificates were also presented to the top two students in each grade level district wide.
It was a celebration of education and being life-long learners.
Students from all 15 Central Consolidated School District schools took the stage to showcase their work at the Northern Navajo Nation Fair in Shiprock, New Mexico. They performed Sept. 29 -30, 2016 inside the CCSD tent near the Exhibit Hall, less than 100 yards from the carnival and rodeo grounds.
“Our children made the difference. With the community having the impact of the Gold King Mine spill (from Colorado), we didn’t have all the farmers that we thought. People come here (to the Fair) for that. They come here for the produce, that’s what we’re known for,” said Dr. Colleen W. Bowman, the District’s interim superintendent.
“But we’re growing our children … we’re showing that we are able to grow from our community. And it was all of our schools. We had Kirtland, Ojo Amarillo, Newcomb, Naschitti, and Shiprock band together, and being able to support each other. That was really great.”
Five Central Consolidated School District high school students and a 2016 graduate spent several weeks in the summer of 2016 building and maintaining trails in the Hiawatha National Forest on the U.P.—the upper peninsula of Michigan.
“It was really green, really different, and the fact there was a lake in front of us gave us an opportunity to swim a lot,” Newcomb High School senior Corminda Henry said about being at the Clear Lake Education Center on the U.P., tightly sandwiched between Lake Superior to the north and Lake Michigan to the south.
Eva B. Stokely Elementary School jumped two letter grades to earn a B on the New Mexico Public Education Department’s 2016 School Grade Report Card.
Rounding out the top School Report Card grades within the Central Consolidated School District were Judy Nelson Elementary with an A; and three schools who went from a C in 2015 to a B grade in 2016: Kirtland Elementary, Newcomb Elementary and Kirtland Central High.
“It’s pretty significant in a sense Eva B. Stokely Elementary jumped two grade levels. They went from a D, which was a 41.36, all the way to a B, which was a 68.85. That is just a substantial jump,” said Milo McMinn, the District’s coordinator of Data and Compliance.
“If you look at Eva B. Stokely Elementary grades overall, they showed an extensive growth in proficiency in English Language Arts and in math. In 2016, they almost grew 7 percent, which is fantastic.”
The Shiprock High School Chieftains and Dolores Bears football players honored—in a halftime ceremony—the nation’s law enforcement, veterans, and military service members. The event included a flyover by a San Juan County Sheriff's helicopter.
They also held a moment of silence in remembrance of the victims and their families of the 9/11 terrorist attack.
“This weekend represents the 15th anniversary of 9/11,” Chieftain head football coach Eric Stovall said to the spectators. “The Twin Towers were attacked by a terrorist group. … It didn’t defeat us. It may have damaged us. It made us stronger. We came together as a country and we won the war on terrorism ladies and gentlemen.”
Both teams placed their helmets on the sidelines to begin the halftime Chieftain-Dolores Veteran/Law Enforcement Ceremony held Sept. 9, 2016 in the Shiprock HIgh School Chieftains stadium.