Young School Board Leaders with fresh ideas, making a difference, challenging the status quo…

In the 1960’s, Alamogordo High School ranked in the top 10 in the nation and attracted teachers from around the nation. According to US News and World Report School rankings the school now ranks #40 in New Mexico High Schools and 6754 in national rankings.  In school districts around the nation with problems, youth are stepping into leadership roles within school boards, with fresh ideas and insights and making a difference in challenging the status quo and making change.

Mark Twain once said, “The secret of getting ahead is getting started.” That is the mantra of Anthony X. Vigil the 19-year-old elected school board president of Mesa Vista Consolidated School District in New Mexico. This quote seems to be a similar mantra for several other young people from a diverse spectrum of cultures who are grabbing ahold of American Democracy, and not only participating, but seeking elected office and winning at the level of school board.

There are those in life that complain about the political system and the world around us, and then there are those that do something about it. Age does not determine one’s ability to have a positive impact and to make a difference in the world. One’s ability to go after a goal, and get it done, is what determines success, no matter age or experience.

Photo of Anthony X. Vigil Swearing in to School Board Mesa Vista Consolidated School District in New Mexico. (Photo Courtesy of Mesa Vista Consolidated School District, Alamogordo Town News, 2nd Life Media)

Anthony X. Vigil was a graduate of Mesa Vista High School in 2019, he was elected to the Mesa Vista Consolidated Schools’ Board of Education on November 5, 2019. Anthony ran for the school board to give the students, who are his contemporaries, a voice. He knows that since students are directly impacted by district shortfalls, they may be able to offer valuable outside-the-box solutions. At age 19 he would be one of the youngest elected school board leaders in the nation, and one of the youngest in the nation at age 19 to be named as the school board president.

Anthony X. Vigil appears to be one of several young student activists, turned candidate being elected as representatives of their school system. There is a trend toward student activism and entering politics at a young age. The school board appears to be an excellent entry point for these young citizens to enter the profession of politics.

A trend toward diversity and youth…

Photo of Kelly Gonez (Photo Courtesy Los Angeles Unified School District Alamogordo Town News, 2nd Life Media)

In 2020 the nation’s second largest school system in the US, the Los Angeles Consolidated School system, elected its youngest school board president ever at age 32. Kelly Gonez became the youngest-ever female president of the Los Angeles Unified School District Board of Education. Gonez, 32, was also the first of the millennial generation and one of only four women of color and one of three Latinas to lead the board that sets policy for the nation’s second-largest school district, which serves a student population that is currently 80% Latino or Black, according to LAUSD officials. Kelly Gonez, 32, is the only parent on the school board with young children, and she grew up in an immigrant family in the district she now represents, encompassing much of the East San Fernando Valley.

But the trend is showing an interest of those even younger getting involved and making a difference

Photo of Bushra Amiwala, the youngest elected Muslim official in the United States. (Courtesy Busha Amiwala twitter Alamogordo Town News, 2nd Life Media)

Meet Bushra Amiwala, she is the youngest elected Muslim officeholder in the United States. Amiwala’s age and status as the youngest elected Muslim official and the only one wearing a hijab in the state of Illinois have brought her fame not normally associated with being elected to a school board. Among the diverse membership of the Skokie School District Board of Education, Bushra Amiwala stands out. She is also a former student in the school district and is featured in a Hulu documentary, “Our America: Women Forward,” which began streaming this March 2021. She is up for re-election to the school board in April 2023 but openly admits she is keeping her eye on other potential offices.

Photo of Ty’Relle Stephens (Photo Courtesy of Channel 10 WJAR Alamogordo Town News, 2nd Life Media)

Out of the ashes of the Rhode Island state takeover of the Providence Public School system, comes a fresh voice. The city’s youngest school board member ever. Meet 20-year-old Ty’Relle Stephens, one of the newest, and the youngest ever Providence School Board member, sworn it at City Hall Wednesday. Stephens started his freshman year at the Juanita Sanchez Education Complex on Thurbers Avenue in South Providence in 2015, getting the lay of the land. Stephens says the voices of the students who have gone through the failed school system are invaluable to fixing what is broken. His plate is full working full-time at Kent Hospital in patient access, and now Providence School Board member, but he is up to the challenge. When asked if he would like to advance in the profession of politics. He leaves that answer to his supporters that believe he has a strong future ahead of him.

Photo of Musab Ali. (Photo Courtesy of NJ.com Alamogordo Town News, 2nd Life Media)

Mussab Ali, 23, became the youngest trustee to ever to named Board of Education President following a 5-2 vote during the board’s reorganization meeting for Jersey City, New Jersey’s Board of Education, earlier this year. He is the youngest trustee and is its new president for 2021. Ali, a law student at Harvard University, won his first year-long term on the school board in 2017 and was later re-elected to three-year term. He is the youngest person ever elected to the nine-member Jersey City school board and the youngest elected official ever in Jersey City. In 2018, Ali was accepted into a prestigious master’s degree program at Tsinghua University in Beijing. The board’s counsel approved Ali’s request to continue serving on the board while studying in China. Ali, a 2015 graduate of McNair Academic, was one of 147 people chosen for the Schwarzman Scholars program at Tsinghua University. He studied biology and economics at Rutgers University-Newark.

And back to New Mexico, where we began this article, we have the youngest school board president in the state and quite possibly the US, Anthony X. Vigil, age 19.  At age 19 he is making an impact on his district in leading it based upon his high school experience. We reached out to Mr. Vigil and asked him about how he got his start in the political process in New Mexico and he responded, “I attended board meetings since I was in middle school and since then I knew I wanted to become a part of the board. Shortly after my first board meeting, I acknowledged my passion to make a real change in society. I always had a strong support system and am compelled to create more opportunities for the generation to follow. The year I graduated was an election year and I didn’t want to waste any time on creating a better tomorrow.”

We mentioned a few of the other young leaders referenced above and asked if he felt participation and leadership by younger adults was becoming a trend and what was the catalyst for that trend? We also asked if he considered himself liberal or conservative in his political leanings. His response, I believe there is a combination of factors leading to the up-tick in the younger generation running for elected positions. I think more and more people are realizing that age is not a barrier and young people offer outside-the-box solutions to world-wide challenges. I am thrilled to see younger people becoming involved in the democratic process. Whereas I am more liberal, I firmly believe educational growth should be a bipartisan consensus. After all, education yields innovation across all industries.”

We would happen to agree with Mr. Vigil wholeheartedly. He is currently pursuing his Bachelor of Science degree in Biology at the University of New Mexico. Additionally, Mr. Vigil is an intern with the Los Alamos National Laboratory’s Engineering Services Division. Before joining the National Labs, he served as an intern Medical Assistant at Las Clinicas del Norte, a non-profit health center which serves the local community. In high school, he led several student organizations and was a runner for the 2015 and 2016 cross country state championship teams. In 2019, he was part of the state championship medley relay team for track and field.

Under his leadership as the president of the board of education he is championing those issues that are important to the students and partnering with leaders in the state to make that happen. As a former track and field and cross-country athlete he knows that a well-maintained track is critical to a team’s success. As such he and the board have partnered to get capital funds from the state of New Mexico to assist in getting much needed track maintenance done at his former high school. In partnership with New Mexico State Senator Leo Jaramillo, $75,000 in capital outlay funds were secured for a new track and field.

The money comes from Capital Outlay funds. School Board President Anthony Vigil says the track needs repaving, and the field needs new grass. “We will be redoing the track and making those repairs so that way it can be used to host track meets,” Vigil said. Vigil says they hope to have the work completed by the next track season.

Anthony X. Vigil, age 19 of New Mexico; Ty’Relle Stephens, age 20 of Rhode Island; Bushra Amiwala, age 22 of Illinois; Mussab Ali, 23 of New Jersey; Kelly Gonez, age 32 of California each represent true diversity and action.  Each is of a diverse generation of young, aggressive and determined individuals that respect the teaching of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, team activities and active participation in the system of civics. Each represents a diverse collection of ideas from a broad section of our country representing school districts large and small. Through their actions and their rise into political power they demonstrate as a truth, Mark Twain’s quote, “The secret of getting ahead is getting started.”

Getting started they have done indeed! We will be watching each of these youthful young adults as their careers move forward over the decades ahead. Inspired we are, in their youthful approach to stepping up, acting and owning the future by offering solutions by their personal actions today.

As we conclude, we wonder, are there any inspired youthful leaders in Southern New Mexico, and more directly in Ortero County or in Alamogordo, ready to take on the challenge and the example set by these youthful leaders? Alamogordo, who is the next generation of leaders ready to step forward today?

Salute’!

Follow Executive Coach and Author, Chris Edwards via the Alamogordo Town News, 2nd Life Media or his Podcast, 2nd Life Media Presents.  Published books by Author Chris Edwards include Coach Bob Sepulveda: The Early Days, 2 Hours Unplugged Unplug and Reconnect, 90 Days to a Glass Half Full Lifestyle, and has published essays on criminal justice reform Removing Barriers to State Occupational Licenses to Enhance Entrepreneurial Job Growth: Out of Prison, Out of Work.

Research for the story above sourced from:

KRQE NEWS, ABC 7 News Los Angeles, Los Angele’s Unified School System, The Hudson County View, www, NJ.com, Baca, Stacey (2021-03-09). “Skokie’s Bushra Amiwala is the youngest Muslim elected official in US”. ABC7 Chicago, Wikipedia, Providence Schools, Mesa Vista Consolidated Schools, Alamogordo Public Schools, US New & World Report

Commitment to Alamogordo’s Fine Arts: Local Coach & Artist Rene Sepulveda Releases “Angelica” at Roadrunner Emporium and Fine Arts Gallery, New York Avenue (Reprint from Alamogordo Town News)

Award Winning retired NCAA Track & Field Coach turned Author, Fitness Coach and Artist, Rene Sepulveda has released “Angelica” A sculpture dedicated to his aunt as part of the 3rd phase of his Valley of the Fires Collection, along with 13 other new and original creations. These among other original creations are on exhibition and for sale at 2nd Life, Fine Arts Boutique, at the Roadrunner Emporium and Fine Art Gallery, 928 New York Avenue, Alamogordo, New Mexico.

Artist Rene Sepulveda and his business partners are committed to the revitalization of the New York Avenue business district. As sports, business and cultural arts leaders they believe revitalization begins with a personal commitment to the business zone. As such they bringing attention to the district via the arts. This release is a part of a multi-pronged approach to build awareness of the New York Avenue, its historical significance and to build an interest in investment and reinvention of the zone into a culturally diverse business zone that serves locals, attracts tourism and increases tax revenues to the benefit of the broader community.

This commitment began with the publishing of books of historical significance to Alamogordo created by Executive Coach, Publicist and Author Chris Edwards, such as Coach Bob Sepulveda The Early Days Book 1 which tells the history of Alamogordo interscholastic sports from 1912 to present. The second in the series covering sports records from 1977 to 1996 will soon be released with significant coverage of football, the Coach Hveem years and his influence and more.

The second phase of this awareness building within the New York Avenue enterprise zone is to create works of art that are interesting and unique and to  market them as showcased on New York avenue and then highlighting the many artists and cultural opportunities within the zone and the stories behind the small business owners located at Roadrunner Emporium and other locations within the district thought to enhance the longer term vision. This phase includes the release of the interesting art creations showcased in this article.

The third phase of their goal to assist in revitalization is to partner with the Alamogordo Main Street, Alamogordo Chamber of Commerce, Alamogordo City, County and State Government and with potential investors to invest dollars, time and commitment to the district. The duo has crafted a  policy position paper soon to be released to local leaders and to a group of significant investors they have been in conversations with as a starting point of “real dialog” to rebuild stronger and better the core business district with a sensitivity to the changing demographics, tourism trends and ecology of which we will live in the next 50 years of economic transition as a nation.

The key to the plan has been a commitment this past year during Covid-19 to explore the business climate of Alamogordo, to see which small business leaders believe in progress and which will fight for the status quo and to see if businesses in the arts could grow in Alamogordo. The conclusion is yes they can and are needed to grow tourism in the city core. 

With each release of new artwork by artist Rene Sepulveda and with each exhibition, photo on the web and sale from around the country and internationally, more awareness of the artistic talents of Southern New Mexico come to bare to the public. As such the next release of his artistic creations are now released for public viewing and purchase.

One of significant importance to the artist is entitle “Angelina” and is dedicated to his 80 year old aunt, Bertha Angelina Sepulveda Rommel. The story dedicated to the crafting of this unique sculpture and it’s significance follows…

“Angelina” Flowing Ivy, Abstract Wooden Basket and Lava Rock Natural Native American Inspired Sculpture by Artist Rene Sepulveda

The historic symbolism of ivy, central to the sculpture by Rene Sepulveda as it reaches out of the wooden basket deals with connections of family, because of its propensity to interweave in growth. Ever furrowing and intertwining, the ivy is an example of the twists and turns our relationships and family connections take – but also a testimony to the long-lasting connections and bonds we form that last over the years. Ivy is further considered a symbol of survival and determination for the same reasons. It seems to be virtually indestructible and will often return after it has suffered damage or has been severely cut back symbolic of the indestructability of family.

This is an example of the human spirit and the strength we all have, to carry on regardless of how harrowing our setbacks may have been.

The basket is one of humankind’s oldest art forms, and it is certainly an ethnic and cultural icon filled with myth and motif, religion and symbolism, and decoration as well as usefulness. Taping in the artist Native American heritage of his ancestors he felt a wooden pieced basket was an essential part of this sculpture due to its symbolism and history as a not to his family roots. The Native Americans may well have left the greatest legacy to the world of baskets. The Indians of Arizona and New Mexico made basket-molded pottery from 5000 to 1000 B.C. as part of the earliest basket heritage. Their baskets (many of which have survived in gravesites) are heralded as a pure art form and one that was created not only by a primitive people but also by women. Basketry extended into the making of many other materials the Indians used daily including fishing nets, animal and fish snares, cooking utensils that were so finely woven that they were waterproof, ceremonial costumes and baskets, and even plaques. The Hopi, Apache, and other Pueblo tribes made coiled baskets with bold decorations and geometric patterns of both dyed and natural fibers. Thus, the bold geometric coloring and shape of the basket crafted into this artistic sculptured work by Rene Sepulveda.

The wood of which the basket hangs is of fallen branches that were gathered near the Apache Mescalero tribal basin and symbolize the strength of eternity. This strength lives on and transcends life and death representing the timeless strength of family.

The 5000-year-old lava rock of which is the sculptures base is composed of rock from the Valley of the Fire lava flow originating at Little Black Peak in Southern New Mexico. The selection of this material as the base was to signify the strength of the earth from deep within, as lava flows deep within the earth and periodically erupts, so do the emotional ties of a family. Those ties and emotional connections are buried deep and carry from one generation to the next, and on occasion erupt to show their true inner strength and strong bonds as the foundation of family.

Finally, the piece is capped with a metal Zia symbol. Given that this artistic creation was conceptualized, crafted and created with natural elements of New Mexico, Artist Rene Sepulveda found it only fitting to cap the piece with the Zia symbol which is sacred to the original people of New Mexico, from the Zia Pueblo and who regard the sun as sacred. Four is a sacred number of the Zia and can be found repeated in the points radiating from the circle.


The number four is embodied in:
The compass (north, south, east, and west)
The seasons of the year (spring, summer, autumn and winter)
The periods of each day (morning, noon, evening and night)
The stages of life (childhood, youth, middle years and elderhood)
The sacred aspects one must develop (a strong body, a clear mind, a pure spirit, and a devotion to the well-being of others)

That final aspect in symbolism of the Zia is what ties this artistic creation of Rene Sepulveda, entitled Angeline, together in each of those characteristics that speak of his aunt. She has always been one from youth to age 80 of strong body, clear mind, pure spirit and devotion to her family as well as the well-being of others.

Each component of this work of art independently is of beauty, but when combined into a sculptured work named “Angelina,” from the heart and mind of the Artist, Rene Sepulveda; one sees it spiritual relevance and reverence to family, presented as a visual piece of artistic beauty.”

To learn more about the artist and the other 39 small business cultural partners, pop into Roadrunner Emporium and Fine Art Gallery at 928 New York Avenue, Alamogordo 10 to 5 daily.

Rene Sepulveda art creations are priced for any lover of art. Prices are discounted significantly to local purchasers at the gallery 928 New York Avenue and sell online from $25.00 to $25,000.00 depending upon the detail and demand of the piece. Mr. Sepulveda has sold selections locally and recently to London, Mexico and Canada and is recognized as the preeminent artist using Cholla Cactus, Tree Trunks and Lava as his canvas of creation.

One art critic recently said of his works that they are “incisive meditations of colorishis designs, shapes and composition complimenting natures wonders using lava rocks, tree roots, tree trunks, bark, cholla desert cactus as components of his canvas.”

To learn more about Artist Rene Sepulveda himself visit his online sites such as:

https://artistrenesepulveda.com/

https://www.etsy.com/shop/2ndLifeBoutiqueStore

Some interesting facts around arts and their impact on business:

America’s nonprofit arts industry generates $135 billion in economic activity every year – $61 billion in spending by arts organizations and an additional $84 billion in event-related spending by arts audiences. The Fitness Community generates roughly $24 Billion in economic activity in the US. Together the economic impact of fitness and the arts is $159 Billion annually on the conservative side. The arts and fitness communities together generated over $34 Billion for local state and federal tax coffers in 2019. 

Including full and part time positions, arts and fitness related businesses employ 5.2 million full time equivalent jobs. The arts and fitness account for about 8.2% of the U.S. gross national product. Annually the arts and fitness community generate $108 Billion in household incomes nationwide.

New Mexico has a vibrant art, cultural, movie, entertainment and fitness community in Northern New Mexico. Southern New Mexico towns such as Alamogordo have an opportunity to tap into that wealth for 21st Century livable wage job creation.

As close as Las Cruces, a focus on the arts has an impact. In fiscal year 2015 the Las Cruces Arts Community generated $19.1 Million in revenues, paid $10.6 Million in wages to Las Cruces citizens and generated $1.9 Million in state and local tax revenue and fees paid to the city, county and state. 

330,000 people attended a cultural event or visited an art gallery, an additional 75k participated in a fitness related event and followed with a cultural event. In 2015 and the average visitor that was in the city of Las Cruces that visited a gallery, performance venue or participated in a hosted fitness event pumped or spent 3 times more dollars than locals spend on average, benefiting the business community and government coffers due to tax collection.

Cultural activities the arts and fitness attract tourists and spur the creation of additional facilities such as restaurants, hotels, and the services needed to support them. The Travel Industry of America estimates that “cultural tourists” spend one more day at their destinations and 50% more money than other tourists.

Available museums, Zoos, art Galleries and facilities of historic significance are factors 42% of the time on rather a traveler will stay in a community on their travels. Other cultural activities Americans enjoy while on trips away from home include live theater (23%), performance art galleries (21%), heritage or ethnic festivals (20%), and music concerts (19%).

Cultural facilities and events enhance property values, tax bases, and overall profitability. In doing so, the arts directly contribute to urban revitalization.

LOCAL ASSETS & OPPORTUNITY:

Alamogordo is a known tourist destination recognized around the world for the Space Hall of Fame, the beauty and proximity to White Sands and Lincoln National Forest and for its connection to White Sands Missile Range and the Military. Art, cultural activities and fitness focused business developments goes hand in hand in keeping tourist in our hotels, extending business growth and contributing to our local economic base.

Alamogordo has several amazing parks such as the Washington Avenue Corridor and the Briggs Park Complex. There are opportunities for more. As an example, the alleyway on McKinley Avenue, post McKinley Channel Construction completion, could be enhanced into a Fitness and Cultural Trail combining fitness, community art with bike and walking trails to enhance that neighborhood with approachable fitness and cultural access.

Numbers alone cannot tell the whole story of improved quality of life in urban neighborhoods resulting from arts, fitness and cultural activities and institutions: increased foot traffic brings safety resulting from “eyes on the street,” enrichment of community service options such as outreach programs to public schools and youth centers, and a greater sense of community identification and pride.

THE ROLE OF THE ARTS IN THE ECONOMIC AND CULTURAL VITALITY OF ALAMOGORDO

Impact numbers also cannot adequately conceptualize the “creative capital” that attracts a skilled workforce and new businesses thus jobs and tax payments. Cities that invest in urban centers focused on arts and fitness support diverse lifestyles and cultural amenities that enhance community value. A better educated and more financially sound community is a secondary benefit. Crime is traditionally lower in cities with a focus on art, fitness and community wellbeing. According to the Arts & Business Quarterly“the arts stimulate the economic revitalization of communities, develop skilled and motivated employees, foster a civil society, and can benefit businesses through increased brand-name recognition, product sales, community goodwill and positive visibility.”

The bottom line is that cities need an arts and fitness focus even more today than just a pure business focus. “Business thrives where a community is focused on arts and fitness, as communities with an art and fitness leaning; tend to be healthier physically, mentally and economically
“per the Carnegie Foundation.

As former Seattle mayor Paul Schell once said, “success in business and community growth lies in creating a community where the creative experience can flourish. When that occurs a community, can prosper.”

In order to support local art, fitness and cultural initiatives, we must build local support and nurture that support of the arts and fitness communities in partnership to fill our hotel rooms with guest that will stay in Alamogordo. We must give them a reason to stay and eat in our city restaurants, shop in our local stores and market to visitors to stay in the city of Alamogordo.

As business, arts, fitness and government leaders we must set deadlines and demand action from the political establishment to implement real support for a renaissance of New York Avenue into a lively, robust economic engine and creates livable wage jobs and fills the city and county coffers with tax revenue rather than the quiet, desolate zone of abandoned and unkempt buildings that exist today.

The arts community, new business interests and government partnering with compatible business interests such as Flickinger, Roadrunner Emporium and others can lead the charge to rebuild, rebrand and revitalize the New York Avenue business district and Alamogordo retail business, city wide. Small local artist and interested individuals such as Rene Sepulveda in partnership with others showing a commitment to the city, even during Covid-19 is what it takes

We each own the success of Alamogordo today, to ensure it is an economic engine tomorrow. Now let’s enjoy the arts, shop local and let’s get started today.

https://2ndlifemediaalamogordo.town.news/g/alamogordo-nm/n/30393/commitment-alamogordos-fine-arts-local-coach-artist-rene-sepulveda-releases

New Mexico Olympic History: The 1950’s, Alamogordo High Schools First State Track & Field Title & New Mexico’s First Native Born Olympian Marvel

The 1950’s and Alamogordo’s First State Track & Field Title in New Mexico History

Photo on Blog and in original article posted to 2nd Life Media’s Alamogordo Town News courtesy of Coach Bob Sepulveda The Early Days Book Series and Archives. To see more photos of sports from the 50’s, 60s and 70s, visit 2ndlifemedia.com

The 1951/52 Track & Field Season was very historic for Southern New Mexico and for Alamogordo, with a state medal win from some very distinctive athletes.

The results of the State Competition winners include…

  • Bobby Lee, 1st Place, 100 Yard Dash, 9.8
    • Bobby Lee, 1st Place,220 Yard Dash, 21.21.6
    • Bobby Lee, 1st Place, Long Jump, 21’-01.375
    • Norman Kinder, 1st Place, Pole Vault, 10’-10.50”
    • Benny Garcia, 1st Place. Javelin, 193’-01.325

The Alamogordo Tigers Track and Field Team of 1951/52 smashed the competition at the state finals of that year.

They took and won the state competition with 48.5 points. Albuquerque High, the 1951 State Champion scored 21.5 points less for a 2nd place finish of 27 points.

  • Lee in addition to setting 2 state records personally scored 24 ¾ points. He broke the state records in the 100-yard dash by .2 seconds and the 220 by .8 seconds better than the record.
    • Lee was also 3rd Place in Shot Put
  • Benny Garcia shattered the state record in Javelin 11’ 3 ⅛” of 5 state records; the Tigers broke 3 of them.
  • Norman Kinder Placed 1st in Pole Vault with 10’-10.50”
  • Ed McAlpine, 2nd Place. in the state competition in Javelin behind Garcia.
  • Bobby Fritz, 3rd Place, Broad Jump
  • In the sprints in addition to the 1st Place wins of Bobby Lee, Oliver Lee, 4th Place 180 Low Hurdles.
  • The 880 Yard Relay Team consisting of Henderson, Fritz, O Lee and Bobby Lee placed with a 3rd place medal.
  •  Benny Garcia shattered the state record in Javelin 11’ 3 ⅛” of 5 state records; the Tigers broke 3 of them.
  • Norman Kinder, 1st Place, Pole Vault, 10’-10.50”

Coach Rolla Buck was incredibly pleased that year with his team having won both the state football title and the state track and field title. He said his boys; “overperformed and beat his expectations.”

 Coach Buck viewed Bobby Lee as “the best high school overall athlete the state of New Mexico had ever seen” to that point.

He also said that Garcia was the best Javelin player ever to come out of New Mexico’s high school system.

Two incredibly special athletes and their legacy is an honor to Alamogordo from that seasons track and field team of the early 1950s. Both athletes go down into the sports history of the United States, New Mexico and certainly of the Alamogordo community for their achievements.

Bobby Lee, after the amazing team results at Ysleta, (7 first place finishes out of 10 competitions) and winning the District Meet several athletes went to Albuquerque and competed at University Stadium in the State Competition. It was here that Bobby Lee set the state record on the 100 Yard Dash with a 9.8 which stood for 20 years and of course this strong team won Alamogordo’s first State Track and Field State Title.  

Bobby Lee also won the 220 Yard Dash and the Long Jump garnering enough points by himself to win the track meet for Alamogordo High School beating favored Highland High School which placed second.

In 1951 there was no class system in competitions, so all size schools and teams competed.

Bobby Lee kept his competitive spirit going as an adult and became a recognized political cartoonist and eventual New Mexico State Senator.

Coach Bob Sepulveda Alamogordo High Schools winningest Track and Field Coach in its 108 year history of the program  said of Bobby Lee; “Bobby Lee remained a strong supporter and advocate for the Alamogordo High School Track & Field Program as an adult. He attended many of the state meets. Bobby would come by and visit my student athletes in the 70’s and the 80’s for support of our team. He was a true leader on the field and as an adult for decades beyond.”

                                Also, of note from the 1951 competition was the amazing Javelin Talents of Benny Garcia with a distance of 193’-01.325.

The next year of 1952 brought Alamogordo High School Track & Field back to the winner’s circle with Benny Garcia winning for the second consecutive year in the Javelin competition.

  • Javelin Benny Garcia medalled with 186’-03.50”

Benny Garcia was an excellent Football kicker. He was on the B team. After some injuries and with the objection of his father concerned about him being injured, he became the primary starting kicker. Albert Romero sprained his ankle and Benny became the primary kicker after that. He had a reputation for making it between the goal posts when it mattered most.

Coach Buck saw Garcia’s talents and made concessions to ensure he was able to take part in the school athletic programs.

Benny would walk or run 6 miles home in the dark after practice to La Luz.

 At the request of Coach Rolla Buck, Superintendent Barnie arranged the use of a driver education vehicle for Benny to use so that he could take part in Sports.

The extra effort paid off for the High School and was life changing for Benny.

His real notoriety came from the Javelin throwing. He set the state record that stood from 1951 to 1966. That record got the attention of the Arizona State University Track and Field Coach that awarded him a full ride scholarship.

He is the only graduate of Alamogordo to make it to the Olympics taking part in the Melbourne Olympics in 1956. He was the first native-born New Mexico athlete to ever compete in the Olympics.

His name is displayed at the Tigers Hall of Fame, Arizona State Hall of Fame, Drake Relays Hall of Fame, and US Navy Hall of Fame.

At the 1956 Olympics he finished 8th place, disappointing Garcia but making his hometown exceptionally proud.

Garcia went on to live a phenomenally successful life as a high achieving Tiger Alumni and a respected businessman in Arizona.  He died in 2015.

Special Note on Alamogordo New Mexico:

Alamogordo High School and the region of Southern New Mexico has a rich history in sports and academic achievement. In the 1950’s and 60’s Alamogordo High School ranked in the top 10 High Schools for athletic and academic achievement in the United States. The region has a rich history in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. It is home to the International Space Hall of Fame and is the testing ground for the latest in drone and military technology via Holloman Air Force Base and White Sands Missile Testing Grounds.

Today, Alamogordo is also the home to New Mexico State University, Alamogordo and is recognized for its pistachio farms, proximity to White Sands National Park and the Lincoln National Forest. As an oddity, Alamogordo is home to the largest Pistachio Sculpture in the World at the McGinn’s Pistachio Tree Ranch just outside Alamogordo.

For photos and more visit https://2ndlifemediaalamogordo.town.news/g/alamogordo-nm/n/27497/1950s-alamogordo-high-schools-first-state-track-field-title-new-mexicos

For the complete sports history of the founding of interscholastic sports to its impact on a small town check out Coach Bob Sepulveda The Early Days 1912 to 1976 on Amazon and fine independent book sellers such as Roadrunner Emporium, 928 New York Avenue Alamogord, New Mexico and fine independent book sellers nationwide. Coach Bob Sepulveda The Golden Years 1977 to 1995 coming soon.

Remembering the Challenger 35 years later – Author Chris Edwards

The Space Shuttle Challenger disaster was a fatal incident in the United States’ space program that occurred on January 28, 1986, when the Space Shuttle Challenger (OV-099) broke apart 73 seconds into its flight, killing all seven crew members aboard. The crew consisted of five NASA astronauts, and two payload specialists. The mission carried the designation STS-51-L and was the tenth flight for the Challenger orbiter. The Challenger disaster should best be remembered for the sacrifice of seven astronauts who died in the accident-  Judith ResnikDick Scobee, Capt. Michael J. SmithEllison Onizuka,  Ronald McNairChrista McAuliffe, and Gregory Jarvis.

But for those currently in leadership positions, it should also be remembered as a colossal failure of process – a process designed by the best and the brightest. By the people who sent men to the moon. That was a sobering thought on January 28, 1986, and it remains so today.

The space shuttle Challenger disaster remains one of the most evocative events of the American 20th Century—and for more than just the obvious reasons.

Certainly, the 35th anniversary of this tragedy returns to mind a multitude of images, memories and emotions that prompt pause. But it also reminds us of the crucial importance of informed decision making and risk oversight which are as relevant today as they were on January 28, 1986.

As some will remember, the specific, highly technical cause of the Challenger accident was the notorious “O-Ring”; i.e. the failure of the pressure seal in the aft field joint of the right solid rocket motor. The failure was due to a faulty design unacceptably sensitive to a number of factors, including the effects of cold temperature (launchpad temperature was 36 degrees on January 28).

But more important to remember is the decidedly non-technical contributing cause: the multiple risk management errors that fatally flawed the Challenger launch decision. As documented by the presidential review commission, these were not errors arising from system complexities, but rather from the erosion of once-effective and redundant safety protocols. 

Space, space exploration and the benefits are not without risk. The risk is worth the reward however we should never sacrifice safety protocols and redundancy further the governments legislative branch has a responsibility of checks and balances in oversight to ensure safety is in place, contracts are not awarded unfairly and the value to the American people in life and treasure is never taken for granted.

Our hearts continue to bleed for the errors of that fateful day but our quest for what is out there amongst the stars should always continue…

A Photo of the Space Shuttle Challenger lifts off – January 26, 1986 seen on authorchrisedwards.com website.

Our heart pour out to our hero’s of the space program but our minds always look up and forward in the quest forward for what lies above us. We are not alone!

Alamogordo Chamber of Commerce Christmas Lights Contest Video featuring Roadrunner Emporium -Video created by Chris Edwards & Rene Sepulveda-authors, artists, coaching

Check out a few of the Alamogordo Christmas Lights contest entrants. From Cuba road to McKinley Avenue and beyond and the Winter in the Desert window display at Roadrunner Emporium, 928 New York Avenue, Alamogordo. All are officially entered in the Alamogordo Chamber of Commerce Christmas lights contest. 

Come check out each vía the attached video or do a Covid SAFE drive by. Locations for each are found 

Trail of Lights Holiday Contest Participants https://goo.gl/maps/TogBGmiYZQLk8o6N8

Come see our window display at 928 New York Avenue, Alamogordo, comment and like us on our and the Chambers Facebook page. Thanks and enjoy a natural Alamogordo lights and our Natural Desert Winter Holiday display..

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