LAPS Foundation Scholarship Winners Announced


Many very deserving students were awarded scholarships May 30 at the Los Alamos High School Class of 2017 Honors Convocation. Among them were 10 outstanding students recognized by the Los Alamos Public Schools Foundation for their demonstrated service contributions to the students and community of the Los Alamos Public Schools.

What sets the Foundation’s award apart is that it also recognizes an Educator of Distinction for each student, someone who has made a positive contribution during his/her time in the Los Alamos Public Schools.

The Los Alamos Public Schools Foundation is an independent organization that works to enrich the educational experience of our students through community investment and involvement. The students selected for the scholarship have themselves embraced this notion of serving their school community.

Elena Abeyta, left, and teacher Ildiko Nadaskay-Goeller. Photo by Jessica Booton

Elena Abeyta is the daughter of Jose and Eva Abeyta. She will attend Adams State University in the fall where she plans to major in Education. Abeyta was selected as the most meritorious recipient and was presented with the Rynd Award. The award is made possible by a large bequest left to the Foundation by Ed and Betty Rynd, a couple with a passion for community service and our schools. Abeyta selected Ildiko Nadaskay-Goeller as her Educator of Distinction. In her essay, she stated “It is teachers like Mrs. Nadaskay that have inspired me to pursue the field of Education. I believe that a teacher has the ability to inspire many people and encourage them to follow their dreams.”

Teacher Patrica Sue Willson, left, and Madeline Beck. Photo by Jessica Booton
Madeline Beck is the daughter of James and Jill Beck. She plans to attend Montana State University in the fall and study Exercise Science. Beck chose Patricia Sue Wilson as her Educator of Distinction. She said, “I entered Mrs. Wilson’s class with a belief that I had met my time with math, and that something that used to interest me would instead now just be a burden. But with Mrs. Wilson’s teaching, I quickly gained back my love of numbers. Although she is no longer my teacher, I still find myself interested and motivated by her, and she has been one of the major reasons I have believed in myself enough to pursue my dreams of graduating early and furthering my education in college.”

Teacher Carol Hermes, left, and Sara Bulthius. Photo by Jessica Booton
Sara Bulthius is the daughter of Jon and Julie Bulthius. She will attend the University of Southern California in the fall.  Bulthius chose her 6th grade teacher, Carol Hermes, as her Educator of Distinction. She said, “Mrs. Hermes was an incredible teacher because she believed that we were capable of taking on tasks that are not usually given to sixth graders. We were able to explore areas outside of our comfort zones and dabble in advanced concepts that were intriguing to us personally. Although the year was challenging, she guided us with a gentle hand and was eager to discuss various ideas with students.”

Teacher Deanna Teague, left, and Mary Grothaus. Photo by Jessica Booton

Mary Grothaus is the daughter of Michael and Deborah Grothaus. She plans to attend Montana State University and study Music Education. Grothaus chose her 7th grade music teacher, Deanna Teague, as her Educator of Distinction. Later, she had a chance to work with Mrs. Teague again. She said, “During my senior year, I was granted the opportunity to work under Mrs. Teague at Pinon Elementary School with her 5th and 6th grade bands. Under her mentorship, I realized that I truly love sharing my passion for music. I was able to meet aspiring younger students, and I found joy in helping them surmount their musical mountains. Now, I plan on attending college with a music education major, and credit is due to Mrs. Teague.”

Jessica Hall, left, and teacher Barbara Musgrave. Photo by Jessica Booton

Jessica Hall is the daughter of Michael Hall and Mary Hall Urban. She plans to study Marine Biology at the University of Tampa. Hall chose Barbara Musgrave as her Educator of Distinction. Hall said, “Mrs. Musgrave’s true virtue is her undying passion for the environment. I have gotten to know this side of her through being a member of the Ecological Club, of which she is the sponsor, and through being the student aid during her AP Environmental science class. I would just like to say that Mrs. Musgrave is an asset to the Los Alamos High School community, and she has made my high school experience wonderful and worthwhile. I could not ask for a better teacher, advisor, mentor, or friend.”

Stephanie Kuzmack and teacher Michael Montano. Photo by Jessica Booton
Stephanie Kuzmack is the daughter of Michael and Doreen Kuzmack. She would like to pursue a career in law, and she will attend Texas Tech in the fall where she will major in International Relations. Kuzmack chose Michael Montano as her Educator of Distinction. She said, “Mr. Montano played a big role in my senior year at LAHS. He assisted me with an essay contest and was there to watch me as I was recognized for my success in this contest. He has always gone above and beyond his job duties and provided me with the support and encouragement to do my best.”

Teacher Joy Handsberry, left, and Maia Meneffe. Photo by Jessica Booton
Maia Menefee is the daughter of K. Aaron and Anne Menefee. She plans to study Civil Engineering at the Colorado School of Mines. Menefee chose Joy Handsberry as her Educator of Distinction. In her essay Menefee stated, “Ms. Handsberry’s classroom is one of celebration, laughter, hard work, and knowledge. Instead of quizzes and tests, Ms. Handsberry gives her students celebrations of knowledge (which are really just quizzes and tests in disguise). It is this positive allusion that perfectly describes Mrs. Handsberry, both as an educator and a person. She celebrates life, and finds joy in teaching others.”

Jennifer Wang, left, and teacher Catherine Puranananda. Photo by Jessica Booton

Jennifer Wang is the daughter of Yongqiang Wang and Minhua Li. She plans to study Biochemistry and English at Rice University. Wang selected Catherine Puranananda, who is affectionately referred to as Mrs. P by her students, as her Educator of Distinction. Want said that Mrs. P is “full of wisdom, tough love, and high quality dark chocolate. She encourages us to find meaning in the blandest of poems and the most discouraging of circumstances, to consider ourselves inconsequential yet capable of incredible things, and to ceaselessly learn and engage with the world around us.”

Teacher Kathy Boerigter and Wilber Wang. Photo by Jessica Booton

Wilbur Wang is the son of Jeff Wang and Min Huang. He plans to attend Princeton University where he will study Molecular Biology. Wang chose as his Educator of Distinction his Science coach and teacher, Kathy Boerigter. He wrote, “the critical thought that Mrs. Boerigter encourages in me has proven invaluable in every facet of my life and in the way I interact with the world. She teaches me beyond the pages of textbooks and slideshows, always serving as a model of perseverance, optimism, and integrity.”

Teacher Stephanie Mitchell, left, and Michelle Yange. Photo by Jessica Booton

Michelle Yang is the daughter of Xiaoguang Yang and Mavis Lin. She has an interest in pursuing Chemisty, and she will attend UC Berkely in the fall. Yang chose Stephanie Mitchell as her Educator of Distinction. Yang said, “While Mrs. Mitchell’s class is challenging and requires effort and determination, she offers more than enough help and material to succeed in class. I never felt uncomfortable asking questions in her class; in fact, she was always very enthusiastic to answer them, and she clearly explains hard concepts.”

The Los Alamos Public Schools Foundation is an independent organization that supports, challenges, and invests in a successful future for all Los Alamos public school students. Since its inception in 2005, the LAPS Foundation has donated more than $1 million to fund opportunities and materials for students, provide professional development for district educators, defray operating expenses, and assist with capital improvements to enrich learning environments in the Los Alamos public schools.

The Foundation raises money through generous contributions from individuals and organizations who share the Foundation’s core values that excellent public education is every child’s right, and that excellent public education systems depend on: a well-informed and supportive community, caring and competent educators, a supportive and responsive school environment, and sufficient financing to achieve educational goals. To learn more about the LAPS Foundation and how to get involved and/or make a donation, visit or call 505.500.6501.

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