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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The APS Foundation’s Selfless Seniors program — now in its 11th year — aims to shine a spotlight on students who have worked to make the community a better place.
Each senior honored receives a free portrait, with the images shown throughout the city, on the APS website and electronic billboards, and on display boards in their high schools, official said in a news release.
The boards are also shown at the Sunport, as well as at local businesses that want to share the stories of giving back.
These Selfless Seniors will be formally honored Friday as part of the APS Education Foundation’s annual Gold Bar Gala.
The program finds exceptional seniors who have not sought recognition for their extracurricular work. Nominations come from school staff, nonprofits and the community. One student is selected from each traditional APS high school and one from an APS magnet school.
Portraits are courtesy of Frank Frost Photography.
This year’s honorees are as follows:
Alacala provides a shoulder to lean on and an empathic ear. Through her compassion, she has proven to be an effective leader. She encourages her peers through hard work and perseverance in West Mesa High School’s Navy Junior ROTC program. Alcala also serves as a Best Buddy, helping students with disabilities become active in their school community, ensuring that no one feels alone or isolated. She is also passionate about supporting veterans by placing flags at the grave sites of veterans every Veterans Day for the past three years. The list goes on and on. Whether as part of a large group working on a community service project or sitting one on one with a peer in need of a friend, Alcala has shown her selflessness time and time again.
Atrisco Heritage Academy
Colmenero is not afraid to tackle serious issues, even at a young age. Among her many community service projects, Colmenero served as a founding member in the Youth Against Drug Addiction Club in her high school and the local community center. She also volunteers with the Drug Enforcement Administration’s office for drug take-back programs. She strives to support the community by creating awareness of the opioid crisis and the dangers of drug addiction. Colmenero is a dedicated volunteer at her church and has helped found an organization to help victims of sexual assault.
Joseph Doucette’s contributions to local organizations are extensive, but what stands out is his never wavering energy despite the many needs of the organizations he serves. Doucette is not afraid to work hard, even if it means cleaning cages at Watermelon Mountain Ranch or moving mulch for a playground for children. Doucette leads by example and, as the Key Club president at his school, he works to ensure that his members can find community service projects about which they are passionate. Because of his efforts and enthusiasm for helping others, membership in the Key Club has more than doubled.
Hoskie is a proud Volcano Vista Hawkette and, as the current student body president, her unending energy to provide her fellow students with every opportunity to learn something new and connect with their peers continues to astound the staff. Hoskie brings new ideas to the school to raise money, and is the first to organize and contribute. She also volunteers off-campus each month at the East Gate church food pantry.
Brown has never failed to offer a helping hand since his freshman year, and has built a reputation of following through on his commitments. As a JROTC cadet, Brown has shown his love of country by supporting veterans here at home and active duty military serving abroad. He also helps raise and lower the flag each and every day before and after class. Brown also volunteers to raise money for community organizations and actively recruits his peers to join him, even giving them rides if they need a lift. Even though his instructors and teachers will miss him once he graduates, his example will endure for underclassman.
Hernandez has shown a passion for education that has extended to students not only at her school, but also in her tutoring of elementary school students. Hernandez worked hard to overcome language barriers when she first entered high school and is now part of Rio Grande High School’s Bilingual Education Program. She also volunteers through AVID and even provides tours for incoming students. She is known to be the first to volunteer and the last to leave.
Kostelecky knows the importance of school spirit and how empowering it is to bring her fellow Highland Hornets together as a school community. She has worked tirelessly to encourage her peers to participate in school activities. Her love of learning has led her to read to students that attend the schools that she once attended in APS. Because she struggled with reading as a child, she strives to instill a love of reading and learning in young students. Kostelecky understands that a good education is the pathway to success, so she encourages elementary and middle school students to start dreaming and then work towards those dreams through their schoolwork.
Jimerson serves as an inspiration and a light to all those around him. For eight years, he has worked at Camp Rising Sun, a camp for children with autism spectrum disorder. At every opportunity, he has come forward to learn more about autism in order to better serve children and families living with disabilities, even outside of camp. Jimerson is also an active volunteer with his church, Del Norte Baptist Church, and volunteered to feed the homeless. Outside of class and off the basketball court, you can find him cleaning yards for the elderly and helping his peers with their homework. His compassion has shown no limits.
Luong has been an active volunteer leader for school events, but also volunteers off-campus to help those in need. Luong works at homeless shelters distributing food and clothing, and makes care packages for homeless students attending Manzano High School so they have supplies for the weekends. He not only volunteers during the school year, but during the summer, as well. Like many students, Luong has had to live with physical limitations, but unlike many students, he has worked incredibly hard not only to improve his quality of life through education, but also to use his education to improve the quality of life for others.
Daisy Mee is an accomplished young musician with a heart for helping her peers and her community. By taking a leadership role in her school’s orchestra program, Mee has championed her peers to work hard, even when things get tough. As president of La Cueva’s Key Club, she has organized several community service projects for herself and fellow students. Even though her school day is filled with many activities and commitments, Mee has dedicated time to tutor younger students after school.
Mascarenas loves math, and has made sure to share her love of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) with younger students, as well as students at other schools. Knowing how important it is to nurture a hunger for learning in youth, she also knows that it can be impossible to learn without having supplies, food and clothing. Mascarenas has worked to collect these items for students in need. She has also donated her time and energy to help children and families facing illness and disease by working to create more awareness of pediatric cancer and raising money for the Children’s Miracle Network.
Miller is the difference between an elementary school student who feels alone, and one who is excited to learn. In middle school, he started to tutor first-graders in math and reading. At high school, he encouraged students at Governor Bent Elementary School to cultivate a love of science. For the past two years, he has volunteered twice a week at Eugene Field Elementary School in the Title I Homeless Project Afterschool Enrichment Project. Students facing seemingly insurmountable obstacles have found a champion in Miller. He dreams of serving his community as a paramedic, and has big dreams for the students he mentors.
Moralez-Norris, also known as Geli, serves as an intern in the Department of Family and Community Medicine at the University of New Mexico. She has dedicated her time to assisting with research projects focused on teen pregnancy and reproductive life planning. Through her work in these studies, Moralez-Norris has shown a passion for supporting young men and women her age with needed resources and she works to reduce disparities in unintended teen pregnancies among Hispanic adolescents. She plans to continue her work in college, and pursue a career in reproductive health and family and community medicine.
Mullen has been a devoted volunteer at St. Paul Lutheran Church since her confirmation. She has taken an active role in alleviating hunger through her volunteer efforts by not only helping with fundraising and awareness events, but also learning more about the issue so she can have an even deeper impact through her service. She has also helped the elderly with cleaning projects, and listens and comforts them when they need a friend. She has shown loyalty and compassion in the face of illness and death. Because her brother lives with cerebral palsy, Mullen has taken a leadership role in her school through Best Buddies to provide inclusive opportunities for all students with and without disabilities.
HALL OF HONOR INDUCTEES
She retired from APS in 2006 after 34 years working in the district as a teacher, principal and trainer. She began her career with APS as a teacher, teaching single grade and multigrade primary and intermediate students. She was also a Title I math teacher and Master Teacher. She went on to earn her license as an administrator and served as principal.
During her tenure as principal of Wherry Elementary School, the school received the U.S. Department of Education Blue Ribbon Award for Excellence. She is fondly remembered there for ensuring that families felt part of the school and even established a parent room. Parents were also encouraged to participate in professional development opportunities.
Clark is also credited for implementing the Reading Recovery Initiative in APS after becoming a Reading Recovery teacher in 1999. She co-authored two publications while serving on the National Board of Directors for Reading Recovery and presented at annual conferences.
As a leader in her field, Ms. Clark taught graduate courses at the University of New Mexico to further educate and support administrators. A lifelong learner, Clark was a passionate advocate for professional development.
He retired from APS in 2012 after 34 years as a guitar instructor at Manzano High School. Before Mr. Ostrovitz (or “Mr. O” as he is remembered by his students and colleagues), there was not a guitar program at Manzano High School, so he built one. Starting with feeder schools to get the word out, in just a few years his classes were brimming with students.
Ostrovitz took a leadership role in providing students the gift of music, and he worked to ensure that his fellow teachers were equipped so that their students could reap the many benefits that music instruction provides.
He served as the chairman for the APS Guitar Committee for 25 years, he provided methods, curriculum and materials for guitar instructors, he presented workshops at the New Mexico Music Educators Association and created a pilot program that resulted in the first formal inclusion of guitar programs at the NMMEA All-State Music Festival.
He also created two levels of music technology classes and trained students to serve as sound crews and recording engineers.
He also was personally instrumental in keeping students enrolled in school.
For more information, go to aps.edu/education-foundation/gold-bar-gala/hallofhonor
BEST IN CLASS PROGRAMS
Collet Park Elementary School
4-H School Wide Club
After noticing an overall lack of interest in classroom learning, leading to increased behavioral issues and poor attendance, Collet Park Elementary School began to incorporate 4-H curriculum in their everyday learning. As a result, students’ motivation to learn, attendance rates and academic performance has drastically increased. Chronic absence rate decreased from 23 percent to 7 percent. Academically, Collet Park witnessed a 6.33 percent growth in school grade score after the first six months of implementing the 4-H Club.
Kennedy Middle School
Reward Incentive Program
As a 2016 Blue Sky Award recipient, Kennedy Middle School successfully implemented a new student incentive program where individual students reaching a 3.0 GPA or above along with those with perfect attendance earn various prizes and rewards, such as Kennedy T-shirts, medals, pencils, pens, backpacks, yearbooks and bumper stickers for parents to proudly display. Students also may earn a breakfast party by participating in problem-solving circle conferences. The program also rewarded grade level improvements such as best improvement in English Language Arts with a field trip. Results indicate a major growth in test scores, higher attendance rates and an increased understanding of assessments and state testing scores among students.
Eldorado High School
Chaco Canyon Project Based Learning
This collaboration links students with professionals, local businesses and government agencies by providing high school level science classes working on environmental resources, history classes researching the local community, and an anthropology class and club working on cultural studies. Students successfully created a Student Activity Center featuring a visitor app for Chaco Canyon National Historic Park to help attract teen visitors to tour the area. Within the app, students created an interactive scavenger hunt to educate young visitors about the cultures and environment. National Park Service and Chaco Culture National Historical Park collaborated.