Las Cruces Launches Three New Community Schools
By: Andy Martinez, NMSU student and Community School Volunteer, and Rachel Padilla, Community Schools Intern
In a few weeks, schools across Las Cruces will be closed for Spring Break. For many students, however, an extended period away from school means a daily struggle to access food and avoid boredom. At Lynn Community Middle School, our City’s first community school, classrooms, and hallways will be bustling with activity throughout the break. Lynn will be partnering with Kids Can to host Kids Can Camp—Business Builders, where students will be able to create a business plan, develop a product or service, and open their own business at the camp market on Saturday.
Lynn became the first community school in Las Cruces in 2017. Aligned with SUCCESS Partnership’s mission to ensure whole childhood wellbeing—that is, physical, emotional, social, and economic wellbeing—the community school strives to ensure that a student’s wellbeing is taken care of so that they can come to school ready to learn.
At Lynn, students can get their teeth checked at the school’s dental clinic and access mental health support from school-based therapists. If they’re hungry, they can grab a snack or have dinner after school in the cafeteria. If they need clothes or hygiene products, they can visit the family resource center; and if their families need groceries, a monthly food distribution takes place in the school’s cafeteria to provide food to families in need.
In 2018, the Las Cruces Partnership for Community Schools was founded with the goal of providing support for any school seeking to become a community school. Now, we look forward to celebrating the launch of three new Community Schools in Las Cruces: Booker T. Washington Elementary, MacArthur Elementary, and Doña Ana Elementary. Celebrations will be held on March 7th, and we invite all students, families, and community members to attend.
Each ceremony will kick off with a ribbon-cutting led by Las Cruces’s three chambers of commerce and local community leaders and elected officials, and then will feature live performances, food, and community resource booths.
Booker T. Washington will have performances by the 5th-grade choir, Cruces Cheer Storm, the NMSU cheerleaders, and Pistol Pete and Posse. In addition to free food (including Kona Ice!), there will also be community resource booths and services, such as a health and wellness fair and free haircuts provided by Movado Salon and Massage Spa.
At MacArthur Elementary, families can enjoy free food, live music performances by the MacArthur Ballet Folklorico, and community resource booths.
Doña Ana Elementary will be hosting Doña Ana’s Ballet Folklorico, the Centennial High School singers, and a performance by local Tejano up-and-comer Karlos Saucedo. There will be food, free haircuts provided by the Olympian Academy of Cosmetology, free books from the Children’s Reading Alliance, and health screenings offered by Blue Cross Blue Shield. Sponsors for all three events include Ngage New Mexico and the New Mexico Oil and Gas Association.
This is a celebration for the entire community that you won’t want to miss!
A study of New York City’s Community Schools Initiative, conducted by the RAND Corporation over the past five years, has shown the positive results we can expect to see coming out of our local community schools. For example, the study suggests that students in community schools are more likely to graduate on time and less likely to be chronically absent. Community schools also see sharp declines in disciplinary incidents among students after implementation. For all of these reasons and more, we expect community schools to bring significant, positive change to Las Cruces’s educational landscape.
To apply for Kids Can Camp—Business Builders, visit www.eventbrite.com and search “Kids Can Camp—Business Builders.”
Community school launch celebrations on Saturday, March 7th, starting at 9 am at Booker T. Washington Elementary, 10 am at MacArthur Elementary, and 11 am at Doña Ana Elementary.