Education column: Students of to successful start

We're just beginning the school year, and wouldn't you know it, there are already some noteworthy items to celebrate.

During the summer, once again, teams of gifted students from Ranchvale and James Bickley traveled to the University of Tennessee to "Destination ImagiNation's Globals," (, participating in competitions designed to encourage creative problem-solving collaboratively.

Accompanied by Clovis Schools' Gifted and Talented teacher Carol Littlejohn and parents, students were escorted to this exciting event in Tennessee, where they lodged in university dorms, a unique adventure. Students competed with other students from around the world, showcasing their ingenuity through a variety of "Challenges" encompassing technology, science, theatre, improvisational, and/or structural events. As in the past, the team of students and adults raised money for the trip through fundraising and donations from local businesses,

Another highlight is the honor received by the Arts Academy at Bella Vista. Many are familiar with the New Mexico Music Educators Association's considerable involvement with music throughout the state of New Mexico; from organizing all-district and all-state choir and band events for secondary students along with numerous other activities and events.

The NMMEA also selects one elementary school in the state for the category of general honor music group, through completion of the all-state honors ensemble application process.

This year, our own Arts Academy at Bella Vista was selected as NMMEA's 2013 General Music Honor Group. AABV principal, Shelly Norris, and music teacher, Sara Hennessy, shared the details: "AABV was selected as the honor school for NMMEA; Mr. Myers (superintendent) called to congratulate us when we received our confirmation letter!"

The school won for their instrumental group, "Rhythmic Joy," 45 students, ranging from fourth through sixth grades playing xylophones, mettalophones, and various percussion instruments. These young musicians will have the opportunity to travel to all-state in January to perform.

By the way, Sara Hennessy, was named Elementary Music Teacher of the Year by NMMEA. In the words of NMMEA, "Rhythmic Joy is truly a superior ensemble. You and your students are not only a shining example of music education in our state, but also the southwest region and the entire nation."

In terms of in-district expanded educational opportunities, Ranchvale is trying an innovative approach to school assemblies this year. Principal Renee Mestas reported, "We're doing something new at Ranchvale this year in place of traditional assemblies; we are having 'learning assemblies.' Every month, one grade demonstrates, by way of song, dance, game show, skit, or other presentation, something tied to the NM Standards and Benchmarks they have just covered at their grade level. At these assemblies, students will also receive unique recognition for academic or personal accomplishment, and they will be followed with parent round-table discussions pertinent to current topics at the school."

This innovative, new approach promises to be interesting, and we will keep you informed about these exciting presentations as they happen.

Congratulations to all our exceptional students and those exceptional educators who go above and beyond, making it all possible.

Cindy Kleyn-Kennedy is the instructional technology coordinator for the Clovis Municipal Schools and can be reached at:

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