Local Youth Help Team Win State Championship Meets

Charger Aquatics News:

Top row from left, Sara Shiina, Sarah Lott, Kaan Unal, Radhika Iyer. Bottom row from left, Presley Gao, Katherine Elton, Takuma Shiina, Injie Mourad and not in picture Maria Venneri. Courtesy Photo

The 14 & Under under New Mexico State Short Course Swim Meet was held Feb. 24-26 at West Mesa Aquatic Center in Albuquerque.

Eighteen teams from across New Mexico participated in the 3-day event and 112 different events were raced.

Nine swimmers from the Charger Aquatics – Los Alamos (CAQ-LA) team helped cinch the win that brought the 14 & Under state banner back to Los Alamos. CAQ-LA is a branch of Albuquerque Academy’s Charger Aquatics.

From Kaan Unal, Sarah Lott, Sam Harris, Maria Venneri, Sara Shiina and Radhika Iyer.

The branch team was started in September 2010 with one senior swimmer. In April 2011 it started an age group program and has grown to 20, ages 6 and over.

Kaan Unal (12) led the pack placing in the top 8 in seven individual events as well as four relays.  Maria Venneri (14) was top 10 in six individual events as well as 5 relays.  Sarah Lott (14) and Sara Shiina (12) both placed in the top 10 in five of the seven individual events they swam as well as the 5 relays Lott and 4 relays Shiina participated.

Radhika Iyer (12) and Presley Gao (9) also added to the team point totals with their individual and relay swims.  New state meet qualifiers Katherine Elton(9), Injie Mourad (9) and Takuma Shiina (9) had fun with great swims and cheering on their teammates.

(L-R – Kaan Unal, Sarah Lott, Sam Harris, Maria Venneri, Sara Shiina, Radhika Iyer)

Charger Aquatics repeated their first-place success this past weekend, March 3– 5, at the New Mexico Swimming Senior State Meet also at West Mesa Aquatic Center in Albuquerque.

Two CAQ-LA swimmers participated in this meet. Maria Venneri was again in the top 5 in all of her individual events bringing in 44 points to the team and helping her relay teams score 94 points.

Sam Harris (15) also had an impressive showing this past weekend scoring 37 individual points and helping his relay teams bring in an additional 38 points for the club.

14 & Under Combined Team Scores:

  1. Charger Aquatics                                        1192
  2. Vipers of Albuquerque Swim Team         1049
  3. Lobo Aquatic Club                                         960
  4. Swim Rio Rancho                                         368.5
  5. Duke City Aquatics                                        338.5
  6. ABQ Dolphins Swim Team                          185
  7. Las Cruces Aquatic Team                            134
  8. Clovis Swim Club                                           123
  9. Wild West Aquatic Club                                   94
  10. Santa Fe Aquatic Club                                     68
  11. Los Alamos Aquatomics                                 59
  12. Sudden Thunder Aquatic Racers                  50
  13. Taos Swim Club                                               48
  14. Northern Aquatic Club                                     28
  15. Albuquerque Triton Aquatic Club                   24
  16. San Juan Swim Club                                       16
  17. Pajarito Aquatic Club                                        11
  18. Tidal Wave Swim Team                                     6

Senior State Combined Team Scores:

  1. Charger Aquatics                                            1337.5
  2. Swim Rio Rancho                                           1160
  3. Vipers of Albuquerque Swim Tea                 1130
  4. Las Cruces Aquatic Team                               831
  5. Clovis Swim Club                                              555
  6. Duke City Aquatics                                            473
  7. Wild West Aquatic Club                                    370.5
  8. Sudden Thunder Aquatic Racers                   345
  9. Pajarito Aquatic Club                                          38
  10. Four Corners Aquatic Team                              36
  11. Tidal Wave Swim Team                                     18

Diverse Faiths Share Soup and Spirituality

The first Lenten Soup Supper took place last Thursday at Trinity on the Hill Episcopal Church and drew a diverse crowd of local Episcopalians, Lutherans, Jews, Methodists, United Church members and others. Those gathered enjoyed a free meal of homemade soups and breads, were inspired by four different teaching sessions, and ended the event by joining together in a brief evening prayer service. The Lenten Soup Supper events will continue at 6 p.m. every Thursday, including this evening, through March 29. Everyone is welcome to stop by the TOTH Parish Hall at 3900 Trinity Dr., at the corner of Diamond and Trinity, to partake in savory soups, breads sure to warm the cockles of most hearts and a gentle dose of spiritual edification. Photo by TK Thompson/ladailypost.com

Photo by TK Thompson/ladailypost.com

Photo by TK Thompson/ladailypost.com

Photo by TK Thompson/ladailypost.com

The People Spoke and the School Board Listened

Los Alamos Public School board members Kevin Hornell and Dawn Venhaus check out one of the design options for a school bus lane at Los Alamos High School. Photo by Kirsten Laskey/ladailypost.om

By Kirsten Laskey

The public came, they talked and they were heard at Tuesday night’s special school board meeting in the Speech Theater at Los Alamos High School.

After hearing strong opposition to the recently approved bus-loop along Diamond Drive for Los Alamos High School, the board unanimously approved putting the brakes on the project pending further investigation.

The board’s decision resulted in several “thank yous” from the crowd.

Superintendent Gene Schmidt said conversations on the bus loop began four to five months ago.

There were initially seven proposals, which were “whittled down” to two:

  • Reconfiguring the parking lot adjacent to Duane Smith Auditorium to include a bus lane.
  • Building a bus loop along Diamond Drive.

The board aired a short traffic video, which revealed buses, cars and pedestrians attempting to maneuver around each other in the Duane Smith parking lot.

Student safety is the purpose behind this project, Schmidt said. Mornings and afternoons at the parking lot are like “organized chaos.”

Board President Melanie McKinley added that the Public School Finance Authority has specific guidelines about separating school buses from other traffic.

The board approved the Diamond Drive bus loop option during its Dec. 21 meeting.

The option would have buses entering the loop near the “jock lot” by Griffith Gymnasium and exiting close to the entrance of the Duane Smith parking lot. The loop would hold up to six buses at a time.

“We wanted to create a bus zone that was safe and inviting and directed people to the main entrance,” Schmidt said.

However, two trees would need to be cut down for this option and the entrance and exit may conflict with the “jock lot” exit and the Duane Smith lot entrance.

Los Alamos High School student, Travis and Keith Rosenbaum, LAPS transportation supervisor speak to the school board Tuesday night. Photo by Kirsten Laskey/ladailypost.com

The bus lane would run up against the auditorium and continue along P Wing. A chain link fence would be erected along the length of the bus lane.

The option would call for restriping existing parking spaces and putting asphalt behind P Wing along Orange Street. Some parking spaces in the lot would be lost.

The estimated cost for the Duane Smith parking lot option is $190,000.

The Diamond Drive loop is estimated to be $155,000. Neither option includes landscaping costs.

The project would be partly funded by a $39,000 grant from the New Mexico Department of Transportation, Schmidt said.

During public comment, Magistrate Judge Pat Casados, speaking as a Denver Steels resident, asked the board to consider the impact the options would have on the neighborhood. Already parents driving their kids to school are a problem, she said, adding that many are rude and inconsiderate on the road.

“I hear the (vehicles) screeching every morning,” she said.

If parking spaces are eliminated from the Duane Smith Parking lot, then more drivers will park on residential streets, Casados said.xz

“I’m asking you to stop, think and be a good neighbor,” she said.

Audience member Elaine Jacobs wondered whether there was another alternative such as using Sullivan Field for buses.

Board Member Dawn Venhaus said this would not work because the Sullivan Field parking lot is county-owned.

Another audience member commended the board on its hard work and complimented the new wing at the high school. However, putting in a bus loop would end the project on the wrong note, he said.

“If you put in a bus lane … you’re just not finishing it right,” he said.

He urged the board to “leave the grass, leave the trees.”

A number of Los Alamos High School students stepped forward to voice their opposition to the Diamond Drive option. One student presented a petition containing 141 signatures from her peers urging the board to strive for alternative options.

The board agreed that more work was needed to be done.

Board Vice President Kevin Hornell said a smarter solution needed to be produced.


Los Alamos High School Bus Loop Options
The bus loop options have been a topic of discussion at the 11/8/11 and 12/20/11 Regular School
Board meetings. Articles were published in the Los Alamos Monitor on 11/9/11 and 12/21/11.
• Estimated costs of both of these projects are still being determined.
• There may not be Board consensus on these items as to whether they are pros or
• Conversations are still underway regarding the landscaping.
• Funding includes $39,000 grant from New Mexico Department of Transportation
Bus Loop Pros
• Separate and protected bus loop
• Good drop‐off location in front of new main entrance
• Construction can occur in summer/fall with little impact to existing function
• Creates new visual presence to the school
• Landscaping will be incorporated into the design
• Creates a place for emergency vehicles
• Maintains current number of student/staff parking
• The Transportation Department preferred this plan
• Something will be done to address the issues of speed in the Smith parking lot as well as striping
• In order to take advantage of the 2012 NMDOT grant construction would have to occur summer
Bus Loop Cons
• Will hold only 6 buses
• Loose the advantage of having a traffic light on Orange Street for protected left turns onto

Diamond Drive
• Will require County approval due to impact on Diamond Drive
• May conflict with jock lot exit and Smith lot entrance
• Utility relocation will be necessary
• Impact on existing landscape, including trees and sprinklers
• New paving impacts existing storm drainage system
• May require retaining walls, ramps and stairs
• Removes 2 mature trees
• Increased afternoon traffic through the Western area
• Potential snow removal problems
• Additional site work for Smith is still required for striping and rumble strips

Smith Lot Pros
• Separate and protected bus loop and parent drop‐off
• Space for 8 buses
• Good drop‐off location near main entrance
• Maintain existing paving in most cases
• Maintains/modifies existing entrances
• Reorganizes parking lot into bus lane, parent drop off, and student parking
• Landscaping will be incorporated into the design
• Construction can occur in summer/fall with little impact to existing function
• In order to take advantage of the 2012 NMDOT grant construction would have to occur summer
Smith Lot Cons
• Common access and egress with Smith Parking
• Pedestrian movement from Smith Lot has to cross bus drop‐off and parent drop‐off
• New Smith bus loop in Smith reduces number of spaces
• Snow removal problems

Spring Scholastic Book Fair Begins Thursday

School News:

The Barranca Mesa Elementary School is hosting its annual Spring Scholastic Book Fair March 8-14.

The event is open to the public during the following hours:

  • 3-6 p.m. Thursday March 8
  • 3:15-4 p.m. Friday March 9
  • 3:15-6 p.m. Monday March 12
  • 3:15-4 p.m. Tuesday March 13
  • noon-1 p.m. Wednesday March 14

The Book Fair is organized by the PTO, which raises funds to help support school programs like the science fair, field trips, playground improvements as well as hot lunches for low-income families.

Barranca Mesa Elementary PTO is a non-profit 501 (c) (3) organization.

Contact: Melanie Cogan, 661-4094 or mcolgan5@gmail.com

2012 Northeastern New Mexico Science and Engineering Fair Winners

Grand Award/ISEF Regional Qualifier for Physical Science (paid trip to International Fair in Pittsburg in May)

  •  Holly Erickson, 11th gr. LAHS

ISEF alternate for Life Science:

  • David Murphy, 9th gr., LAHS

Paper Competition Winners (1st and 2nd go to State)

  • 1st Senior Div. – Holly Erickson, 11th LAHS
  • 2nd – Devon Conradson, 9th. gr. LAHS
  • 1st Junior Div. – Elise Koskelo, 8th. LAMS
  • 2nd – Ruby Selvage, 6th Pinon

Regional Awards and State Qualifiers  (1st and 2nd go to State)


  • 1st – Holly Erickson (11th)
  • 1st – David Murphy (9th)
  • 1st – Ani Nadiga (9th)
  • 2nd place, Joe and Adrian Abeyta (10th and 12th)
  • 2nd – Devon Conradson (9th)
  • 2nd – Maria McTeigue (10th)
  • 3rd – Simon Redman (11th)


  • 1st – Steven Chen (7th)
  • 1st – June Cooke (7th)
  • 1st – Hunter Eaton (8th)
  • 1st – Cole Kendrick (8th)
  • 1st – Elise Koskelo (8th)
  • 1st – Nick Koskelo  (8th)
  • 1st – Maia Menefee (7th)
  • 1st – Jovan Zhang (8th)
  • 2nd – Justin Holmes (7th)
  • 2nd – George Margevivius (7th)
  • 2nd – Andy Shen (7th)
  • 3rd – Rachel Wallstrom (8th)
  • 3rd – Connor Bailey (8th)


  • 2nd – Miriam Wallstrom (6th)
  • HM – Sequoyah Adams-Rice (6th)


  • 2nd – Sarah Shipley (6th)
  • 3rd –  William Butler (6th)


  • 2nd – Colin Hehlen (6th)
  • 2nd – Noah McCabe (6th)
  • HM – Mychael Garcia (6th)
  • HM – Jenny Paige (6th)


  • 2nd – Junseo Kim (6th)
  • 3rd – Chelsea Lovato (6th)
  • 3rd – Richard Thompson (6th)
  • HM – Marja Graham (6th)


  • 1st – Ruby Selvage (6th)
  • 3rd – Jayde Tucker (6th)
  • HM – Graem Taylor (6th)

Editor’s Note: The 2012 Science Fair is dedicated to David Graham and Frutoso A. Lopez, who both recently passed away. Graham, from Des Moines, New Mexico, served the Highlands University Northeastern New Mexico Regional Science Fair as an excellent mentor and judge for many years. Lopez was an exemplary math teacher from Taos, New Mexico, where he taught and mentored many students in math and science for more than 30 years. These two fine men will be truly missed in the scientific community. -Rosalie Martinez, Science Fair Director.

LAHS Science Bowl Champs Defend Regionals Title

By Libby Carlsten

LAHS Championship Science Bowl Team for the Northern New Mexico Region from left, Alexandr Wang, Micha Ben-Naim, Scott Carlsten, Paolo Venneri (coach), Lorenzo Venneri (holding trophy) and Kevin Gao. Photo by Eli Ben-Naim

For the third year in a row, the Los Alamos High School Science Bowl Team won first place in the Regional Science Bowl Saturday on the Albuquerque Academy campus. Approximately 34 teams from New Mexico high schools competed in the regional event.

Launched in 1991, the Science Bowl is a highly competitive science education and academic event among teams of high school students who compete in a fast-paced verbal forum to solve technical problems and answer questions in all branches of science and math. Each team is composed of four students plus an alternate.

LAHS Senior Scott Carlsten is team captain. Team members include Lorenzo Venneri (12th grade), Micha Ben-Naim (12th grade), Kevin Gao (11th Grade) and Alexandr Wang (9th grade.)  Team Coach is Paolo Venneri and the Science Bowl Club Advisor is Kathy Boerigter, a Los Alamos Public Schools science teacher.

The three LAHS seniors, Carlsten, Venneri, and Ben-Naim, have been on the winning team each year from 2010 to 2012.

The LAHS championship team has earned an all-expenses paid trip to compete at the National Science Bowl April 25-30.

The national event in Washington, DC is sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy and includes several days of science activities, sightseeing, and competitions.

Teams enjoy the entire national science bowl experience and the opportunity to participate in cutting-edge science seminars and hands-on science activities.

Energy Secretary Steven Chu traditionally speaks at the closing event of the competition.

This is the third time since 1994 that the Los Alamos High School team has won the Regional Science Bowl competition.

Additional Los Alamos High School students who participated in the Regional competition are Megan Kelley (12th grade), Aaron Bao (11th grade), Rohan Iyer (12th Grade), Daniel Ben-Naim (9th Grade), Alex Swart (9th grade), Colin Redman (9th Grade), Willie Zhao (9th Grade) and  Sam Sherrill (9th grade.)

Los Alamos Native Embarks on ‘Insane Music Project’

By Bonnie Gordon

Kevin Ecke

Los Alamos native Kevin Ecke is getting ready to embark on what he calls “an insane music project.”

Starting March 12, Ecke will be recording a new composition every day for 11 weeks and presenting it on his website www.prof-ecks.com/.

“I want to start a dialogue with people about the music,” Ecke said. “I have an insane amount of material, but a lot of what I’ll be doing will be spontaneous.”

Ecke plays viola, guitar and piano in addition to singing.

He comes by his musical talent naturally, since his mother is Cheryl Smith-Ecke, a violinist and the orchestra instructor at Los Alamos Middle School.

Ecke brings his music to the Internet and beyond. He has produced a CD of his original songs and will soon complete a second.

His first CD is “Experiments.” A second album, “Explcit,” is in the works.

“The songs on this album are a good-bye to childhood and to Los Alamos,” Ecke said. “I consider it a product of my upbringing Los Alamos.”

“Experiments” is a very melodic album. It might be described as The Shins meets Rufus Wainwright. Ecke has a great voice and the musical background is sophisticated.

“What I do isn’t rock, but I channel the spirit of rock ‘n roll,” Ecke said. “Rock is rebellious and so am I,” Ecke said. “You don’t need to go through a record label to meet the fans,”

One factor in Ecke’s ability to be independent is his partnership with Mikhail Shashkov, another Los Alamos native. The two met in the second grade at Chamisa Elementary.

Shashkov handles the business side of the enterprise and creates the web presence.

Ecke is currently living in Denver, but he plans to move to the San Francisco area soon. The Bay Area will provide more musical opportunities, Ecke said.

Like many natives, Ecke said he didn’t appreciate Los Alamos as a kid. Now he looks back on his hometown fondly. “It’s such a beautiful place,” he said.

Grand Opening of ‘Dale Chihuly Gallery’ Set for March 12

Glass art created by Dale Chihuly. Courtesy

The community is invited to enjoy art, music and light snacks at the grand opening reception of the “Dale Chihuly Gallery” in the lobby of Pinon Elementary School in White Rock from 4:30-6:30 p.m. Monday March 12.

Pinon/Chamisa Elementary Art Educator Stephanie J. Rittner led this project in which the artwork of every student in kindergarten through 6th grade is represented. Rittner also is the Los Alamos Public Schools Art Education Team Leader.

Pinon’s impressive art gallery is named after world-renowned artist in glass Dale Chihuly and made possible by a grant from the Los Alamos Public Schools Foundation.

Born in 1941 in Tacoma, Wash., Chihuly was introduced to glass while studying interior design at the University of Washington.

After graduating in 1965, Chihuly enrolled in the first glass program in the country, at the University of Wisconsin.

He continued his studies at the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD), where he later established the glass program and taught for more than a decade.

In 1968, after receiving a Fulbright Fellowship, he went to work at the Venini glass factory in Venice. There he observed the team approach to blowing glass, which is critical to the way he works today.

In 1971, Chihuly cofounded Pilchuck Glass School in Washington State. With this international glass center, Chihuly has led the avant-garde in the development of glass as a fine art.

His work is included in more than 200 hundred museum collections worldwide. He has been the recipient of many awards, including 10 honorary doctorates and two fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts.

Chihuly has created more than a dozen well-known series of works. He is also celebrated for large architectural installations.

In 1986, he was honored with a solo exhibition, Dale Chihuly objets de verre, at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs, Palais du Louvre, in Paris.

In 1995, he began Chihuly Over Venice, for which he created sculptures at glass factories in Finland, Ireland, and Mexico, then installed them over the canals and piazzas of Venice.

In 1999, Chihuly mounted a challenging exhibition, Chihuly in the Light of Jerusalem; more than one million visitors attended the Tower of David Museum to view his installations.

Chihuly has exhibited at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, near London in 2005, the de Young Museum in San Francisco in 2008 and the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston in 2011.

Mountain Elementary School’s Can Collection Project Ramps Up

Mountain Elementary School collected this truckload of cans in just one week. Courtesy Photo

In just one week, Mountain Elementary School has collected a truckload of cans for the Great American Can Roundup.

The impressive load weighs 92 pounds and contains 3,800 cans.

The school is competing to collect the most aluminum cans in the state as part of the Great American Can Roundup.

During its first week, students brought in more than 2,000 cans.

If they win, they’ll receive a cash prize, which will be donated to the Heart and Soul Animal Sanctuary in Pecos.

Community members can donate cans to the effort – drop the cans off at Mountain Elementary School or the Pajarito Environmental Education Center.

The competition runs until Earth Day, April 22.

Los Alamos Middle School Design Wins EPA Award

Los Alamos Middle School addition/renovation project rendering. Courtesy/ Dekker/Perich/Sabatini

By Carol A. Clark

The United States Environmental Protection Agency has recognized the design of the Los Alamos Middle School’s upcoming addition/renovation project for achieving the ENERGY STAR ® award — a rating 75 or greater.

Director Jean Lupinacci of ENERGY STAR Commercial and Industrial Markets for the EPA wrote a letter to project architects Dekker/Perich/Sabatini saying, “Your firm will be listed on the ENERGY STAR website for submitting building designs that achieve superior energy performance. You may also display the attached ‘Designed to Earn the ENERGY STAR’ graphic on the aforementioned building plans to educate clients, contractors and others about your commitment to designing energy efficient buildings.”

The completed building will be eligible to earn the ENERGY STAR after one year of operation, if its energy performance ranks in the top 25 percent and it meets industry standards for indoor environment, Lupinacci said.

“I am thrilled that the middle school design has earned this award,” said School Board President Melanie McKinley. “This demonstrates our commitment to the environment and to saving money on non-instructional items like utilities. It is important that we be able to use the money we receive toward educating our students not toward heating drafty, poorly-built buildings. The new middle school classrooms will be an excellent place for our kids to learn and for our teachers to teach. I want to take every opportunity to thank the taxpayers of Los Alamos for approving the bond that makes this possible.”

The project budget is an estimated $14 million.

Architects Dekker/Perich/Sabatini operate as one firm with four offices in Albuquerque, Las Cruces, Amarillo and Las Vegas, Nev.; each a professional corporation in their respective states. D/P/S is a dominant firm with a strong reputation for design excellence in the Southwest.

The design team on the LAMS project includes Principal-in-charge Benjamin Gardner, Project Manager Julie Walleisa, Project Architect Miriam Hicks and Community Liaison Mike Gibson.

The addition/renovation work is set to begin June 1 on the 95,607 square foot building, which houses 536 seventh and eighth grade students.

The project is scheduled for completion Aug. 1, 2013.

See more design renderings at http://www.dpsdesign.org/lams