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Features

  • Through the years, the Memorial Middle School greenhouse has been a center of activity for students’ agricultural and science projects.

    It’s also a place for aspiring teachers to get hands-on experience in their craft.

    Tom Dormody, a visiting professor of agriculture from New Mexico State University, and a number of his graduate and undergraduate students are learning ways to teach science using agriculture and natural resource applications.

  • By Don Pace

    Las Vegas Optic 

    In 1973, Barbara Streisand sang, “Scattered pictures, of the smiles we left behind, smiles we gave to one another. Misty water -- colored memories of the way we were.”

    One way high school graduates in America have of remembering their friends is looking through their yearbook. And with every yearbook comes a staff that has worked for a year collecting and preserving those memories.

  • West Las Vegas Middle School teacher and coach Brian Gurule has been watching his kids succeed for 13 years. He says that’s what makes him happy.

    “I want to see them succeed and teach them that there is more to this world. I want them to experience the knowledge and insights one gets from travel. Many of our students have never traveled outside of New Mexico,” Gurule said.

  • The title above is no accidental allusion to Vergil’s “Aeneid,” often billed as history’s greatest Latin epic. The poet, who lived from 70 to 19 BC, says, in the original Latin, “Arma virumque cano,” or “I sing of arms and the man.”

    So what does this have to do with former New Mexico Gov. David Francis Cargo?  Perhaps if Vergil were writing today, the hero would be named David Cargo, or “Lonesome Dave.”

  • Not one of the 15 volunteers bolted from the barber chair as an appreciative crowd laughed, jeered and cheered them on to shaved-head heaven. 

    Psi Chi International Honor Society President Renee Shimek said the Highlands University psychology club holds a Spring Festival fundraiser every year.

  • New York Times bestselling author, artist and illustrator Jan Brett made a stop in Las Vegas on Saturday, pulling up to West Las Vegas High School in her shinny tour bus.  About 300 people waited her arrival.  Brett said she enjoys traveling by bus, because it gives her the freedom to stop at places off the beaten path from the average author tour.

  • Kylie Angelique Tafoya, 8, likes to perform in front of large audiences.

    That’s according to Sara Harris, the mistress of ceremonies at the recent sold-out 16th annual Fiesta de la Hispanidad.

    “The bigger the audience the better,” Harris said.

    The young San Juan girl took the New Mexico Hispano Music Association’s Child Artist of the Year Award.

    As Kylie took the stage during the Hispanidad event, she stepped up to the microphone but she couldn’t quite make it. She took a little jump, and her fingers slipped off.

  • Imagine a person who combines the full spectrum of reality and communing with nature with deep convictions of spirituality — a transcendentalist, perhaps — of the 21st century.

    Janice “Jan” Arrott, the embodiment of this combination, was born in October 1932 in Worthington, Minn. She never knew her father, Arthur James, who died two months before Jan was born.

  • As the Lady Dons ended their unforgettable season in the University of New Mexico’s “Pit,” appreciation for coach Jose “Magic” Medina and the team’s achievement’s was only beginning.

    As star players Vanessa Lucero and Miranda Martinez walked off the court, they were invited to try out for the Nike Elite Travel Team. Of the more than 130 young women who tried out, both Lady Dons made the squad.

  • Highlands University student Joni Martinez is seen as someone with an engaging personality. But there’s one thing many people don’t know about her: She is legally blind.

    Other than her family, friends, co-workers and those she gets to know over time, most people apparently aren’t aware of the condition of Martinez’s eyesight.

    Maggie Romigh is Martinez’s boss at Big Brothers Big Sisters, a mentoring program for children.

  • Staff Sgt. Martin David Gallegos is a graduate of Robertson High School, but visited both East and West schools last week to unfurl three U.S. flags flown over war-torn Iraq. 

    The flags were flown by his National Guard unit in a Iraq. With each flag, Gallegos also presented a plaque describing its history. 

    Gallegos is serving with the 515th Regiment out of Belen. The soldiers are stationed at Camp Bucca, a forward operating base about 200 miles south of Baghdad.

  • CASA volunteers help children who have no one else.

    The program’s local director, Barbara Perea Casey, said community volunteers are part of the Court Appointed Special Advocates program and are highly trained individuals who are the voice for children who are removed from their homes because of abuse or neglect.

  • Leah Lucero says no teenager should miss their prom night for lack of a dress or tuxedo.

    “No one should have to sit at home on prom night, so I thought if we asked for donations of prom attire, whether it’s dresses, suits, or accessories, we could organize a prom closet. It’s also a good way to get the community involved in one of the biggest school functions of the year,” Lucero said.

    Lucero said she originally brought up the idea at Key Club, where she is  president. But members already had another project in mind.

  • Wherever Martin Sena teaches he makes his students shine, partly because he makes learning fun.

    But mostly when they listen to this master of mariachi, they find themselves at ease on stage because they’re confident in their skills.

    “This is something easy for me to do because the kids like it so much,” Sena said. 

  • Courtney Ferguson was crowned the new Miss Las Vegas 2010, and Erin Scott won the title Miss San Miguel County in the annual pageant -- a prelude to the Miss New Mexico and Miss America stages.

    “I feel amazing, I didn’t think I did well in the interview, but I guess I did better than I thought. It’s just so exciting and a real eye opener -- I’ve never done anything like this, so it was definitely an experience of a lifetime,” Ferguson said.

  • They’ve devoted a lifetime to the care of others and each other. John Sketchley Moore and Edith Turner Moore, pharmacist and nurse, respectively, have more than related professions to explain their almost 61 years’ close-knit relationship.

    One cannot miss the unspoken communication between the two — a good-hearted smirk from John, a quick glance and softening of facial features into a sweet smile from Edith — no doubt about it, there’s something special here.

  • During her 46 years of teaching, Margie Seay-Maez most likely had you or someone you know in class.

    She taught well over 6,000 Las Vegas students during her long career.

    Seay-Maez can truly say that she has touched the future, having influenced district judges, doctors, nurses, lawyers, scientists, college professors, teachers, school administrators, past and present city mayors.

    “I taught 16 different subjects over the years,” Seay-Maez said. “I always liked teaching different subjects; it’s more exciting that way.”

  • United World College student Jen Kim says she didn’t invent the Empty Bowls Project, a program whose mission is to feed the hungry.

    But her energy brought her love of ceramics and concern for world hunger together at a local event. 

    “I took ceramics in ninth grade, and I really loved the class. It was one of my favorites. We also did an Empty Bowls fundraiser, which is an organization that fights world hunger, so when we I came to UWC, I wanted a pottery activity, but they had discontinued it,” Kim said.

  • When it comes to school, Bonita Baca has always been marked as present. She’s never been a no-show since the beginning of kindergarten.

    Not one single day.

    “I just love school, I love learning,” said the West Las Vegas senior.

    Baca is also a year into her college career, having taken dual-enrollment classes at Highlands University. She maintains a 4.1 grade point average as a senior, and has earned a 4.0 GPA in her studies at Highlands University.

    West Las Vegas Principal Gene Parson said everything about this teenager is impressive.

  • Sometimes dreams do come true, especially as Joe Cocker once sang in his song, “With the help of my friends.”

    Until 6 p.m. Friday, Las Vegans can help a favorite son realize his dream marriage with a click of their mouses.

    For the last three years, a statewide contest has offered a lucky New Mexico couple a $50,000 wedding that includes wedding attire, the ceremony and the reception at the Hyatt Regency Tamaya Resort near Albuquerque, and a seven-day honeymoon in Paris.