New Mexico Governor Greets Students At Aspen School

LAPS Superintendent Kurt Steinhaus and student greeters 6th grader Analise Natal and fifth grader MJ Martinez welcome Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham this morning to Aspen Elementary School. Photo by John McHale/ladailypost.com

Aspen Elementary Principal Michele Alther, center, Sen. Leo Jaramillo, second from right, and others walk with Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, left, and Superintendent Kurt Steinhaus, right, this morning as she tours Aspen. Photo by John McHale/ladailypost.com

BONNIE J. GORDON
Los Alamos Daily Post
bjgordon@ladailypost.com

New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham and Deputy Secretary of Public Education Gen Warniment visited Aspen Elementary School this morning to welcome students back to full-time classroom learning.

Most New Mexico schools, 791 out of 840, are now open, Warniment said.

“Los Alamos has been an excellent partner, and has engaged in all the safety practices,” she said. “Aspen is a great model because it has an outdoor education space.”

There were few bumps along the way, Warniment said, explaining that fire marshals had to inspect each school and only when it passed could it re-open. PED had the help of several other state agencies in locating students who the schools had lost track of, she said.

When the governor arrived, she was met by 6th grader Analise Natal and fifth grader MJ Martinez. They were chosen to act as guides and represent the students of Aspen. Both said they were glad to be back in school on a full-time basis.

Lujan Grisham noted that she attended elementary school in Los Alamos and joked that she hoped a science test was not part of her visit to Aspen.

“Does the mask make me look taller,” she quipped.

The governor visited several classes, including Stacy Martens’ second grade class, which was meeting in Aspen’s outdoor classroom. The learning space opened just in time for the reopening, Los Alamos Public Schools Superintendent Kurt Steinhaus said.

Steinhaus credited “the incredible staff” for the smooth reopening of Los Alamos schools.

“Students seem calmer and more focused in the outdoor classroom,” Aspen Principal Michele Alther said.

The governor welcomed the students back and asked them if anyone wanted to be governor when they grew up. She got two takers.

Lujan Grisham suggested to the LAPS staff that involving senior citizens as volunteers at the schools is of benefit of booth students and seniors.

“The work of building community happens on the ground in the schools,” the governor said. “You need a community location and schools are that place. COVID has been an incredible reminder that without schools, the social web unravels.”

New Mexico is number one in the nation in vaccinating its citizens, Lujan Grisham said.

“New Mexico has shown it will stand up for our citizens,” she said.

In spite of the challenges of a large rural population and less healthcare infrastructure than many other states, New Mexico “has beaten every one of the odds,” Lujan Grisham said.

“The legislature gave us a lot of room to do what we needed to do,” she said. “I’m feeling good about the economy … I think we will be able to continue to invest in the schools.”

“This was so much fun,” Lujan Grisham told her student guides. “I wish I could visit every school!”

Stacy Martens and her second grade class in the outdoor classroom this morning at Aspen School. Photo by John McHale/ladailypost.com

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham and LAPS Superintendent Kurt Steinhaus demonstrate social distancing this morning as they welcome students back to in-person learning at Aspen School. Photo by John McHale/ladailypost.com

Flanked by student greeters fifth grader MJ Martinez and 6th grader Analise Natal, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham welcomes students back to in-person learning this morning at Aspen Elementary School. Photo by John McHale/ladailypost.com

LAPS Board President Melissa Colgan, Superintendent Kurt Steinhaus. Rep. Christine Chandler, Council Chair Randall Ryti, Sen. Leo Jaramillo and others walk with Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham as she speaks with students this morning at Aspen. Photo by John McHale/ladailypost.com

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham speaks with students this morning in Beth Combs’ 3rd grade classroom at Aspen Elementary School. Photo by John McHale/ladailypost.com

LAPS Board President Melissa Colgan and Superintendent Kurt Steinhaus visit with student greeters 6th grader Analise Natal  and fifth grader MJ Martinez while waiting for the governor to arrive this morning at Aspen Elementary School. Photo by John McHale/ladailypost.com

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