Reading Quest announces contest winners

Reading Quest has announced the winners of its “Song, Rap and Poem” contest.

The nonprofit literacy organization named Noh Kaigziabiher, a junior at The MASTERS Program, the grand prize winner for the poem, Shall I Pursue, which was inspired by the novel The Great Gatsby.

Contestants submitted a song, rap or poem to a committee, and those who passed the first round performed their pieces.

All winners and finalists received cash prizes and a private Zoom meeting with Tomfoolery, an internationally known young poet.

Winners will also be filmed on stage at the Lensic for a YouTube “Song, Rap and Poem” contest film premiering in early December.

Here is the list of contest winners:

High school

First place, rap: Jhahlea Coleman; “The Twilight Rap,” inspired by the Twilight series written by Stephenie Meyer.

First place, poem: Oz Leshem, sophomore, New Mexico School for the Arts; Poem for a Teardrop, inspired by Bless Me, Ultima, written by Rudolfo Anaya.

First place, song: Kaitlyn Vigil, junior, Pecos Connections Academy; “Without You,” inspired by A Dog’s Way Home, written by W. Bruce Cameron.

Middle school

First place, poem: Rosetta Uberuaga, seventh grade, Academy for Technology and the Classics; a poem inspired by Song for a Whale, written by Lynne Kelly.

First place, song: Nico Smith, seventh grade, Santa Fe Waldorf School; “Thunderclan is Doomed,” inspired by the Warrior series written by Erin Hunter.

Second place, poem: Inez Castillo and Eden Jensen, sixth grade, Amy Biehl Community School; Wonder, inspired by the book Wonder, written by R.J. Palacio.

Upper elementary

First place, poem: Malcolm Campbell, third grade, Wood Gormley Elementary School; haiku poetry inspired by Coraline, written by Neil Gaiman.

First place, song: Julia Ortega and Catherine Courtney, fifth grade, Wood Gormley; song inspired by the Emmie and Friends series by Terri Libenson.

Primary elementary

First place, poem: Fiona Pedersen, second grade, New Mexico School for the Deaf; poem inspired by a Star Wars book.

First place, song: Brielle Coriz, first grade, Salazar Elementary; song inspired by the Bad Guys series written by Aaron Blabey.

Second place, poem: Aubrey Coriz, second grade, Salazar Elementary; poem inspired by the Harry Potter series written by J.K. Rowling.

Third place, poem: Daniel Mendoza, second grade, NMSD; poem inspired by a Superman book.

Fourth place, poem: Aspen Mohan-Litchfield, second grade, NMSD; Dog Man, inspired by the Dog Man series written by Dav Pilkey.

Science group, SFPS launch STEM partnership

The Santa Fe Alliance for Science signed a three-year memorandum of understanding with Santa Fe Public Schools to help enhance science, technology, engineering and math learning for students and teachers in the district.

“The partnership of the Santa Fe Public Schools and the Santa Fe Alliance for Science is priceless,” said Melissa Lomax, the district’s executive director of curriculum and instruction. “It is a vital complement to our STEM education programming for our students.”

The alliance will be part of the Adopt-a-School Program at Nina Otero Community School, where alliance volunteers provide STEM learning and enrichment opportunities to students during and after school, as well as in summer programs.

The programs are being offered through videos and online tutoring because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

It also will assist in STEM fair support, from classroom experiments to mentoring district students on their projects to serving as judges in school STEM fairs and the districtwide expo.

“We’re honored to be recognized by the Santa Fe school district for the importance of our work with students and teachers, and to have the assurance of a three-year agreement to continue and build on what we do,” said Caren Shiozaki, the alliance board president.

SFPS starts homework assistance hotline

Santa Fe Public Schools launched its Help U Homework hotline, which is designed to help students complete assignments, visualize concepts and troubleshoot basic technology.

Students or families in need of assistance can call 505-467-4663.

Highlands board approves hemp program

The New Mexico Highlands University Board of Regents approved a new program that will offer students a certificate in industrial hemp entrepreneurship, the school said in a news release.

Industrial hemp production was legalized in New Mexico in 2019 following the federal government’s approval a year earlier. The plant is used in many products, such as textiles, bioplastics, biofuels and medicine.

“We believe that industrial hemp is a growth industry that can benefit the economic development of Northeastern New Mexico,” Highlands business professor Heath Anderson said in a statement.

The certificate curriculum will include six courses for 18 credits.

To find out more about the program, contact Anderson at

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