Makayla Grijalva | News-Bulletin photo
Los Lunas Schools District hosted a grand opening to one of their Innovation Labs in May. This school year, a lab is expected to be at every school site.
Back to School
From free lunch for all students to a sensory room at every school site, Los Lunas Schools is preparing for the new school year with many new resources available at every school.
“We’re always so excited to have our kids back,” Los Lunas Schools superintendent Arsenio Romero said. “Summer goes by so quickly and they all grow over the summer, so it’s always wonderful to have them back in the classrooms.”
Like Belen Consolidated Schools, Los Lunas Schools now qualify to provide both free breakfast and lunch to every student regardless of financial status, a feat Romero said is due to the hard work of the district’s nutrition department.
“We got a little taste of that during COVID, but it was at a national level that we were doing that, and we saw dramatic differences,” Romero said. “It was important for us to continue doing that.”
In order for an entire district to qualify for the USDA free and reduced lunch program, 70 percent of the students need to qualify for free lunch. Romero said the district came in at just under that, but were able to work with the federal government to allow their students to take part in the program.
This year, every school will be able to utilize an Innovation Lab — a technology focused learning space — funded by last year’s round of Meta Community Grants. The labs will allow the students to learn through different technologies from virtual reality to robots.
“They are able to integrate technology with everything they are doing at the school district. So, you are seeing examples of them coding, problem-solving and using virtual technology,” Romero said. “It’s a really engaging environment for our students.
“We can integrate all of the core areas of our instruction into those different types of technologies.”
Also at every school site, the district is working to install sensory rooms, areas that limit sounds, lights and other outside elements which may cause sensory overload. Romero said the rooms will be different at every school site, somewhat catered to the age of students, but still meant for use by everyone at the school.
“This is something that we learned a lot about out of COVID,” he said. “We have families and we have students that came back with different kinds of trauma, anxieties and stressors. So, this is going to be a wonderful environment to help cope in those situations.”
At the high school level, Los Lunas, Valencia and Century High Schools are all moving back to a 7-period day from a block schedule as well as creating opportunities for more career technical education and elective courses prior to graduation.
“One of the things we did as a district during the pandemic was, they didn’t have access to their elective classes, so we wanted to be able to offer them as many sections as possible with electives because a lot of those electives are required for graduation,” Romero said.
With the expansion of the district’s CTE program, it gives students three opportunities to be successful in their chosen path following graduation, whether it be college or jumping into the workforce — the others being dual credit courses and the development of their Bilingual Seal program.
Career technical education aims to have students graduate with a certification under their belt, whether it be in welding, automotive or HVAC.
Bilingual seals will be added to the high school diplomas of graduates fluent in a second language.
Romero said they will begin their current high school freshmen to be on track to earn a seal, if they chose.
“It’s not enough for us to graduate students with just a high school diploma,” he said.
“Really, the challenge now is to do one of three things, and in some cases students can take advantage of more than one of these three things.”
The first day of class for LLS is Monday, Aug. 1.
Makayla Grijalva was born and raised in Las Cruces. She is a 2020 graduate of The University of New Mexico, where she studied multimedia journalism, political science and history.