A week of bottle rocket building and go-kart racing sounds mostly like pure fun. But Early College Opportunities High School auto collision instructor Chris Coriz believes it’s a long-term investment that will make the school year much easier.

As schools in Santa Fe prepare to open their doors to students for the 2022-23 school year, educators are finding different ways to get kids comfortable with the school climate and culture. It’s a particularly important task, they note, as students adjust to life back in brick-and-mortar buildings after two years of on-and-off online learning.

For Coriz, part of that meant corralling a group of more than 20 incoming high school freshmen during one of the last weeks of summer to race go-karts and measure the velocity of handmade rockets.

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Gabriel Olivas winds his way through the slalom to beat the clock last week at Santa Fe High School.

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Precious Romero waits her turn on the course last week at Santa Fe High School.

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