In Brief - Education - May 25, 2012

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Optic and wire reports

Pertussis cases confirmed locally
Several confirmed cases of the pertussis, or whooping cough, have appeared at four Las Vegas City Schools.

In a memo to parents dated May 18, Superintendent Sheryl McNellis-Martinez,  school nurse Cynthia Jaramillo and Christopher Novak of the state’s Department of Health notified parents and guardians of the situation.

At that time, the district had confirmed one case of the bacterial respiratory infection.

Three days later, parents and guardians were notified that the infection was confirmed at four school sites, although the letter does not list those schools.
The May 18 memo stated that students and staff may have been exposed to the contagious infection.

“Pertussis can be spread when people come into close contact with a person who has the disease and is coughing,” the letter states. “Household contacts are at greatest risk, but people who spend several hours in a day near the ill person, especially in a confined area, or who are in direct contact with respiratory secretions — such as a direct cough to the face — are at risk also.”

Symptoms of whopping cough begin within one or two weeks after exposure according to the district’s memo.

“People who have been in close contact with someone with pertussis can avoid getting the infection by taking preventative antibiotic treatment,” the initial memo states. “The best known/scientifically proven way to prevent pertussis is through the pertussis vaccine.”

NcNellis-Martinez said the Department of Health is having a vaccine clinic on May 30, and the vaccine is also available at Walgreens.

“You might be a carrier and not have symptoms,” she said. “Adults should have a booster if you haven’t had the vaccine yourself in 10 years.”

Vegas native is Army graduate
Floyd Leon Romero, Graduated from the United States Army Infantry (Delta Company, 198th Brigade) in Fort Benning, Georgia on March 9.  

Floyd is the son of Esteban and Gloria Medina of Las Vegas and Paul and Geraldine Romero of Albuquerque. He is the grandson of Rita Fidel and Margarita Romero both of Las Vegas.

He is a 2010 graduate of West Las Vegas High School.  

Graduation is only a new beginning for Floyd, as an infantryman he joins a unit in South Korea to continue the proud tradition of those who defend our freedom’s around the globe.  

Locals awarded scholarships
Scholarship awards range from $30,000 to $1,000 to help students in seven counties pursue a higher education from the LANL Foundation.

This year’s local winners are Jalila Arthur, Michael Casados-Pierce, Anissa Gallegos,  Chantel Davis, Sean Lujan, Robertson High School students; Cassandra Miller, Lucas Baca and Meleicio Perea, West Las Vegas High School; Vidalia Vigil, Pecos High School; Marcos Mondragon and Jacklin Vigil, Mora High School; and Jeffrey Sward, Santa Fe High School.

Susan Seestrom, associate director for experimental physical sciences at Los Alamos National Laboratory, is chairing the 2012 employees’ scholarship campaign.

Laboratory employees gave $272,000 last year, matched by $250,000 from Los Alamos National Security, LLC. Seestrom’s goal is $300,000 from employees during the one-month campaign ending May 30.

Seestrom said LANL employees believe education is the key to success for Northern New Mexico’s youth.

She cites the story of Cristal Vazquez, a 2004 graduate of Pecos High School and a single mother, who became the first person in her family to attend college, graduate to become an obstetrics nurse and works for the University of New Mexico Hospital.

“I am proud to work at the Laboratory whose workforce supports the amazing success of young people,” Seestrom said.

Since 1999, LANL employees have awarded $2.5 million in scholarships to 664 Northern New Mexico students.

NMHU switches online tool
New Mexico Highlands University went live with a new online course learning management tool May 14.

The university switched from Blackboard to Desire2Learn, which will host all internet courses and  provide course materials for interactive television, or ITV, classes.

“Desire2Learn will improve the learning environment for students taking distance education courses,” said Evonne Roybal-Tafoya, Educational Outreach Services director.