27 May 2019. Alden just finished kindergarten with us. In the process he picked up a fascination with rockets, to add to his fascination with learning in general. A week or so before the school year ended, he and four other students went to the field adjoining the school with science teacher Vince Gutschick to launch a model rocket, after he provided them with some good background on physics and safety. Another launch, please! Well, it got windy for many days. On the 27th Vince met Alden, his brother, and his parents at the school. We prepped a model rocket, Alden doing the engine insertion and wadding stuffing. We took it to the field,
and, with all due precautions, he launched it
. It was a rewarding flight. Next, we four went into the school, where Alden took to the whiteboard to diagram the black-powder model rocket engine and explain how it worked. Quite a fine way to spend an hour!
The Las Cruces Academy is proud to announce the excellent results from a recent administration of the Iowa Assessments, a widely used set of standardized tests for measuring academic achievement; the LCA students had composite scores in the top 1% of schools across the nation who administered the test and in the top 13% of private schools across the nation, as well. The scoring system used also yields a grade equivalent achieved by the students in each area and as a composite. On average, LCA students performed 2 years above their actual grade level in composite scores, and individually as high as 6 years. As always, we are proud of our students for the advanced education they have achieved, and of the teachers who continue to provide it.
This fine performance was achieved despite not teaching to the Iowa Assessments, or any other standardized test over its ten years of instruction in Las Cruces. The school attributes these results to several factors. The students are each placed in small classes taught by competent, passionate teachers. Most classes are further split into smaller groups; for instance a class of 12 students may have 4 separate spelling groups. So, each student is taught at his or her own appropriate level, challenging but not overwhelming. All students have several teachers during the day, each teacher providing instruction in their area of expertise. The students also get frequent breaks, for recess and for snacks, so they can concentrate when they are in class. In addition, all students spend significant time during the day actually reading, so they become masters of this most important skill.
The Iowa Assessments were initially developed in 1935 and have been continually updated since then by faculty in the College of Education at the University of Iowa. This battery of standardized tests is used as a measurement of skills which all students should develop, not only those following a localized curriculum. The tests include such topics as vocabulary, word analysis, reading comprehension, capitalization, punctuation, mathematics, social studies, and science. This generality has made the tests popular across the country, in addition to its use in Iowa. At the LCA, the tests provide the school with a basis to determine our overall performance in key areas, to identify students who need additional instruction in specific areas, and to insure proper placement of students into learning groups. This information supplements the knowledge of the students that our teachers gather continually.
Food for Thought, our signature community event and fundraiser is coming on Wednesday, May 29th at the school, 1755 Avenida de Mercado in Mesilla. At each Food for Thought event we have a silent auction of items donated by businesses, LCA families, and friends of the school. Here’s a selection of items that will go into this year’s auction. The narcissus flowers come a bulbs that you can plant in your garden.
Fourth- through eighth-graders reading the Odyssey and loving it! We are an academy, in the fullest sense.
11 May 2019: The end-of-term performance at our school brought out fine singing and dancing by our students from kindergarten through 8th grade. English, Spanish, and Chinese were all featured, in classics, folk songs, and new creations. Kudos to the students and to our teachers, who all put in so much productive work. The main gallery was packed with families and friends, who gave the students standing ovation. We’ll have movies on YouTube once we finish a fix in our editing software.
Coming up quickly, Wednesday, 29 May 2019, 6 PM onward: Food for Thought is our signature community event and fundraiser. We have 11 interesting people at 10 different tables, ready to share discussions on 10 different topics over dinner, with guests who buy tickets ($50 per person) in advance or at the door. This is the 6th incarnation of the event, each year held at the school, 1755 Avenida de Mercado, after classes end. We have much information on our website, lascrucesacademy.org/fft, where you can also purchase tickets online securely and choose your table.
Coming up right away, Saturday, 11 May 2019: Students present our end-of-term performance. They’ve been practicing songs, skits, and dances cast in English, Spanish, Chinese, and (we’ll see) maybe other languages! Parents, grandparents, friends, teachers, and board members come to appreciate the students’ mastery of singing, speaking, dancing, and presentation, and then everyone joins in a potluck dinner featuring dishes of diverse ethnic origins.
Wednesday, 8 May 2019 and onward for a couple of weeks: Archery is back. This skill brings discipline, development of motor skills, friendly competition, and fun. We thank the New Mexico Game and Fish Department and Jeremy Lane for the loan of the equipment. Head of School Dr. Lou Ellen Kay learned how to teach archery several years ago in the program, which is rigorous, emphasizing safety.
Tuesday, 30 April 2019: Beloved educator and legislator of yore, Dr. J. Paul Taylor, opened his historic house to our students in grades 1 through 8. At 95 years of age, he’s sharp, humorous, and replete with stories about life. His daughter, Rosie, and docent Alexandria led us through the wonderful arts, crafts, and memorabilia that fill his home. We are so privileged to have these visits.
Wednesday, 8 May 2019: Teacher Kelly Lin gave our first- and second-graders the opportunity to learn about shopping hands-on. Individually or in small groups the students created a product, the product description, a commercial, and a store. The students, joined by early kindergarten and kindergarten students, used play money to make purchases. You can see that all enjoyed it.