When they heard “go” the Ojo Amarillo Elementary runners took off.
They were given the honor of being the first wave of runners to begin the Shiprock Kids Marathon, held after school May 6, 2016 at the Shiprock Youth Complex. It was the first event of the annual two-day Shiprock Marathon.
Many elementary and middle school students wore yellow t-shirts in honor of Ojo Amarillo Elementary student Ashlynne Mike, who lost her life earlier that week. Ojo Amarillo students also wore ribbons with the initials A.M. on them.
Four minutes prior approximately 500 yellow balloons – released by the students – quickly disappeared into the sky. The Ojo Amarillo students, including from Mesa Elementary, Tse’ Bit Ai’ Middle, and other schools, were surrounded by parents, teachers, community members, and marathon officials.
Students from as far away as Cuba, New Mexico; Window Rock, Arizona; Montezuma Creek, Utah, and the San Juan School District in Blanding, Utah, and as close as Aztec High joined Central Consolidated School District students in CCSD’s 21st Annual Middle and High School Navajo Knowledge Bowl, held March 31, 2016 at the District’s Phil Thomas Performing Arts Center in Shiprock, New Mexico.
Approximately 150 students from 13 schools participated in one or more events, which were Navajo language, writing and speaking; Navajo reading; Navajo singing; a Navajo spelling bee, and the Navajo Knowledge Quiz Bowl. The Navajo Knowledge Bowl was sponsored by CCSD's Heritage Education Center and the Johnson O’Malley Program.
It took 39 rounds to win.
Newcomb Middle School student Hannah Pengosro took 1st place in the Navajo Nation Spelling Bee (which is in English) March 17, 2016 at Navajo Technical University in Crownpoint, New Mexico. Pengosro, a Central Consolidated School District student, will now compete at the Scripps National Spelling Bee, May 25 – 27, 2016 in National Harbor, Maryland just outside of Washington D.C.
“I feel great about winning. It’s helped me value hard work,” Pengosro said. “I had to work hard to get this. I had to work hard to win my first spelling bee (at Newcomb Middle School), that second one in Shiprock, and now this. I would do (spelling) flash cards or (the list of) words every free time I had.
“This win for me is like a pearl with gold around it.”
Kirtland Central High seniors Mariah Rhoades, Patricia Camacho, and Faith Lee—as well as Kirtland Middle School’s Shakira Davis—took 1st place medals at the Family, Career, and Community Leaders of America's State Leadership Conference, held March 3 – 5, 2016 in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Those FCCLA state wins (in the national-event portion of the competition) qualified Rhoades, Camacho, and Lee—all veteran FCCLA members—along with Davis, in her first year at FCCLA, to compete at the FCCLA National Leadership Conference July 3 – 7, 2016 in San Diego.
Lee took a 1st place gold medal in the promote and publicize FCCLA event, and was also elected onto the FCCLA state executive council in New Mexico.
“I handed out surveys around the school to kind of gauge the students’ knowledge of FCCLA. I also helped man the elective fair booth at the school,” Lee said, adding the elective fair was to educate students about what elective classes were available, as well as what organizations, clubs, and sports they could join.
Their experiments explored the heavens and the earth in the name of science.
Three students were awarded District trophies for Best of Show in Central Consolidated Schools’ 2016 District Science Fair, which was held in three sections (for elementary, middle, and high school) over three days in February at the District’s Phil Thomas Performing Arts Center in Shiprock, New Mexico.
The Best of Show was the highest scoring 1st place win across all of the categories. Students also received medals for taking 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place in their individual science categories at each of the three science fair competitions.
Kirtland Elementary’s Mel A., Tse’ Bit Ai’ Middle School’s Najhozhoni Ben, and Newcomb High School’s Alisha Nakai—who took the Best of Show awards—had something else in common: A strong interest in wanting to explore how the world works combined with an ability to effectively communicate their hypothesis, data, and conclusion to the judges.
Hard work and a plan to win brought 24 medals for Kirtland Middle School students and four for Tse’ Bit Ai’ Middle School students following intense competition at the New Mexico Science Olympiad, held Feb. 20, 2016, at New Mexico Tech in Socorro.
Students Kylie Gilbert and Keelyn Etsitty took 1st place in the New Mexico Science Olympiad for Food Science—defeating 24 teams in the middle school category statewide in the process. Each of the Kirtland Middle School team’s 15 students brought home at least one medal.
“I feel really excited and happy,” Etsitty said, adding when they called the places out during the awards ceremony that evening they started at 10th and went down. “I seriously thought we didn’t place,” as they got closer to announcing the top award. “Then they called our names—I got really excited and jumped out of my seat.”
There were 25 teams from across New Mexico in the middle school category competing in a total of 23 events—all on a single Saturday. There were also 25 teams in the high school category competing in a total of 22 events.
Ten Kirtland Central High School students have qualified to compete in the Business Professionals of America nationals after taking wins at the BPA State Leadership Conference Feb. 15-17, 2016 in Albuquerque. The BPA National Leadership Conference is May 5-9, 2016 in Boston.
“All of the students worked really hard and it showed. There were some we were really excited about that we had not planned on; and there were some that worked really hard that we hoped would have qualified and didn’t,” said Lisa Lucero, a KCHS BPA co-advisor and business teacher. The other KCHS BPA co-advisor is business teacher Cheryl Stahl.
Eight of the KCHS students who placed at the state competition were veteran BPA members, while two joined BPA this school year. An additional four students in the state competition were finalists (but did not qualify for nationals). One was a veteran BPA member while three were newcomers.
It was called the District’s Elementary Bilingual Showcase, but it was actually trilingual and multicultural.
Parents who packed the center seats of the District’s Phil Thomas Performing Arts Center in Shiprock, New Mexico saw not only students showcasing their work in Navajo, but also some in Spanish through songs, dances, language, and presentations. Further, some Tse’ Bit Ai’ Middle School students followed by four teachers performed Filipino dances in traditional outfits.
“The kids weren’t nearly as nervous as I was. They did a good job,” said Scott Rodgers, the Bilingual Spanish teacher at Judy Nelson Elementary School in Kirtland. “They performed well under pressure.”
What was it like for your students singing the classic French children’s song Frere Jacques in Spanish?
February’s winter felt even warmer.
Children gathered with mothers, fathers, grandparents, and other guardians at the District’s Bernice L. Pioche Benally Cultural Heritage Center Feb. 17, 2016 at the District administration in Shiprock, New Mexico.
They sat and listened, contemplating the Navajo Coyote Stories being told. It was week three of the Central Consolidated School District’s Winter After School Navajo Literacy Program.
Parent Kono Begay, whose children attend Tse’ Bit Ai’ Middle School and Nizhoni Elementary School, had this to say: “We’ve been coming every Wednesday because they (my children) are interested in the culture program. It’s like a family night. They look forward to it.
“They’re excited because they wanted to know what the Coyote Stories are about, and what they entail, and why it is so important to know as a culture what the Coyote Stories are.”
All eyes were focused on six Shiprock High School students as they stood before the entire New Mexico House of Representatives on the House floor.
The Shiprock High School Marine Corps Jr. ROTC Color Guard—in dress blues—presented the Colors as SHS student Miss Northern Navajo Teen Nicole Keeswood—in a Navajo traditional outfit with her crown—sang the National Anthem in Navajo.
“To sing the National Anthem in front of a very diverse crowd is very humbling because not only am I representing my school, but I am representing the Northern (Navajo) Agency, and the Navajo Nation. I am representing my people,” Keeswood said in an interview.
When did studying and competing in science become cool?
That question was a no brainer for students in five Central Consolidated School District schools who competed—and took wins—in the annual Northwest Regional Science Olympiad Jan. 23, 2016 at Mesa View Middle School in Farmington. Kirtland Middle School took 1st place, in the middle school category, at the competition.
Kirtland Middle and Tse’ Bit Ai’ middle schools, as well as Newcomb High School—each longtime veterans of the competition—swept up enough wins and points for their teams to qualify for the State Science Olympiad Feb. 20, 2016 at New Mexico Tech in Socorro south of Albuquerque. See story on their trip to state
At one point even the Yei’Bi’Chei—the Navajo spiritual healers who were walking around the fair— briefly stopped to watch students performing. Students from throughout the Central Consolidated School District took center stage for two days at the 2015 Northern Navajo Nation Fair in Shiprock, New Mexico.
“I watched the parents and grandparents’ faces. Oh my gosh, they were so filled with pride,” CCSD Interim Superintendent Dr. Colleen Bowman said.
A Naschitti Elementary student didn’t have a question for Miss Navajo Nation Alyson Jeri Shirley. Instead he just jumped out of his seat and gave her a big bear hug.
Ms. Shirley—who spoke about the importance of education and learning and maintaining Navajo culture and language—visited with more than 100 students, from pre-school through the fifth grade, during an Oct. 7, 2015 Parent Appreciation Day at Naschitti Elementary in northwest New Mexico.
Navajo Nation and New Mexico officials joined community members, students, staff, and CCSD administrators in a Nov. 13, 2015 grand opening of a chip-sealed stripped road—that replaced a dirt road—leading to Ojo Amarillo Elementary School in northwest New Mexico.
“It’s important that we have safe passage to our schools,” Central Consolidated School District Interim Superintendent Dr. Colleen Bowman said in an interview.
Newcomb Elementary Principal Deborah Belone praised her school’s teachers, students, and past principals for the school being recognized as a 2015 National Blue Ribbon School by the U.S. Department of Education.
U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan cited Newcomb Elementary as an “exemplary high performing school,” in a letter to the school congratulating them on receiving the Blue Ribbon award.
UPDATE: Rhys B. (the Kirtland Elementary School student who took 3rd place in the CCSD Spelling Bee) competed in the San Juan County Spelling Bee and took home the 3rd place trophy. He represented CCSD March 19, 2016 at the New Mexico Spelling Bee in Albuquerque.
The top three place winners in the Central Consolidated School District 2016 Spelling Bee (pictured here) went on to compete in the San Juan County Spelling Bee.
The mud man takes viewers by surprise.
“We basically took the concept of a snowman and turned it around,” Career Prep High student Lardell Lewis said about the Navajo-Christmas themed wall mural.
“For the eyes we had grandma put on her unused turquoise, she put beads around its neck, and let the mud man hold her staff. Grandma is standing right next to the mud man.”
U.S. Army veteran Mike Bekis, of Fruitland, New Mexico, proudly held his grandson, a Kirtland Elementary School student, just prior to the Nov. 11, 2015 Veterans Day celebration at the school. Bekis was stationed along the West-East German border during the Cold War.
“We were the first defense. Everybody was worried about the Russian tanks. That was the only place they could come through—the Fulda Gap. And we were there,” Bekis said, adding the first time he saw the Berlin Wall he was shocked: “What is this? We’re actually living like this? Eastern and Western Germany—the way it was—what’s going on here?”
The $20 million Judy Nelson Elementary School under construction in Kirtland, New Mexico, is in the shape of a Y. And the new traffic flow is in the shape of an oval.
The top arms of the Y are the classrooms, with the right arm at two stories and the left arm at a single story. The intersection of the Y, which is also two stories, includes the front-office area and offices. The bottom of the Y includes the single-story cafeteria. The first-floor area of new construction is at 56,509 square feet; while the second-story floor area is at 22,548 square feet.
The existing building—comprised of the gymnasium and music room saved from the demolished Ruth N. Bond Elementary—is 15,825 square feet. This existing portion of the school—which has already merged with the new construction—brings an additional lower-left arm to the Y.
Once done, the total square footage of the new kindergarten through sixth-grade school will be 94,882 square feet. It can accommodate up to 715 students. (Preschool students go to the District's nearby Kirtland Early Childhood Center.)