LAHS Class Of 1969 Donates To J. Robert Oppenheimer Memorial Committee Scholarship

From left, Class of 1969 Alumni and educator Yvette McFarland, Class of 1969 Alumni Abel Chavez, J. Robert Oppenheimer Memorial Committee (JROMC) Scholarship Chair Alison Pugmire, Class of 1969 and educator Shelley Roberts and JROMC Treasurer Ron Wilkinson hold up a $7,000 check donated to the JROMC Tuesday morning at the Los Alamos History Museum. The class of 1969 donated the money to establish a scholarship for students planning to pursue a degree in education. Photo by Kirsten Laskey/

Staff Report

The Los Alamos High School Class of 1969, which celebrated its 50th year reunion in late September, contributed a total of $12,451 to two local educational organizations to assist in the futures of LAHS teachers and students.

The Class of 1969 participated with 1979 and 1989 alumni, which also held class reunions this summer, in a campaign to raise funds for the Los Alamos Public Schools Foundation to further its mission of promoting innovative learning in Los Alamos Public Schools through a variety of grants and other support. 

The Class of 1969 recently contributed $5,451 to the Los Alamos Public Schools Foundation and Wednesday presented an additional $7,000 to the J. Robert Oppenheimer Memorial Committee Scholarship fund to help LAHS graduating students further their education at a college or university.

“We gladly accepted the invitation to participate in the alumni fundraising and quickly went to work,” said Abel Chavez, who helped organize the Class of 1969 effort. “The class saw this as an opportunity of “giving back” to the educational community that helped give us our start and “paying forward” to graduating seniors to help shape their futures.”

“The Class of 1969 benefited from our early education in Los Alamos and many of us received scholarships and financial assistance to pursue vocational training or a college degree,” Chavez said. “Furthermore, we are thankful that we had faculty, staff and classmates that provided a nurturing learning environment and afforded us opportunities to have a rewarding, educational experience.”

The Class of 1969 scholarship fund being established with the J. Robert Oppenheimer Memorial Committee (JROMC) will provide additional financial support to graduating seniors pursuing a college degree in education to become a K-12 teacher. 

JROMC Chair Alison Pugmire said, “We’re excited to see this scholarship. Many of our scholarships are for seniors who are pursuing math or science degrees. This one is unique because it is for seniors who are planning to pursue a teaching degree.”

“We are looking forward to work with members of the JROMC to continue Robert Oppenheimer’s legacy,” Chavez said. “As one of the most influential scientists in modern history and a founding director of the Los Alamos National Laboratory, Dr. Oppenheimer’s leadership was instrumental in the economic development of Los Alamos and the region and provided employment for many of our family members when we were growing up.”

The scholarship fund being established will award a $3,000 grant each in 2020 and 2022 and every other year, as funds permit. Chavez said the Class of 1969 plans to continue fundraising to replenish the scholarship fund before and during their planned 55th year reunion in 2024.

“I am proud of my classmates’ response to our fundraising to help build a lasting legacy,” Chavez said. 

Both the LAPS Foundation and the J. Robert Oppenheimer Memorial Committee have a proven record in providing support to education.

The LAPS Foundation has raised more than $1.5 million to support Los Alamos Public Schools since its inception in 2005 and the J. Robert Oppenheimer Memorial Committee has provided more than 230 scholarships to local area students totaling more than $500,000 since their fund began in 1984.