Community service

LAPS Foundation Recognizes Ten Community Service Scholarship Recipients and “Educators of Distinction” – Los Alamos Reporter


The Los Alamos Public Schools Foundation has awarded scholarships to 10 outstanding students from the Class of 2022 for their demonstrated service contributions to students and the Los Alamos Public Schools community. Each student received a scholarship and was asked to write an essay about an Educator of Distinction – someone who had a positive impact on the student during their time at the Los Alamos Public Schools. The Foundation hosted a reception at the high school in May for students, their families and their educators of distinction. Congratulations to the following 10 students and their educators:

Elizabeth Frost, right, and Margo Batha. Photo by Jessica Booton Photography

Elizabeth Frost is the daughter of Catherine Puranananda and Jon Frost. This fall, Elizabeth will study abroad for a year in Germany as part of the State Department’s Congress-Bundestag Youth Exchange (CBYX) program. Then she will go to Columbia University to get a degree in foreign affairs. Due to her extensive community service efforts in high school, Frost was selected as the most deserving recipient from this already impressive group of students, and she received the Rynd Award. This award is made possible by a significant bequest left to the LAPS Foundation by Ed and Betty Rynd, a couple passionate about community service and our schools. Frost chose Hilltalkers speech and debate coach Margo Batha as Educator of Distinction. Elizabeth wrote this about Batha: “Over the past few years, our team has simultaneously faced its share of external challenges. When a teammate suddenly passed away, a hole was created in our team that could never truly be filled. Covid and the pandemic as a whole has tested our ability to meet and work with each other, and even compete with each other. Yet Speech and Debate is stronger than ever, a testimonial from Ms Batha [and] the Regina Brett quote she so often mentions: “No matter how I feel, I get up, dress up, and show up for life.” Ms. Batha always showed up and continues to show up for me and the rest of the team, a gesture for which I am eternally grateful.

Ryan Aldaz and Andrea Determan. Photo by Jessica Booton Photography

Ryan Aldaz is the son of Gene and Jeannette Aldaz. He will attend New Mexico State University and major in Mechanical Engineering. Ryan selected Andrea Determan, his 3rd teacher at the Primary School of Barranca, as Emeritus Educator. In his essay, he wrote, “While going to LAPS from K-12, I had the opportunity to meet many great teachers who taught me a lot, but one changed my life. Mrs. Determan, my 3rd grade teacher, had an everlasting impact on my life teaching me lifelong lessons that I will carry with me forever. . . Every day I try to articulate the things that Mrs. Determan demonstrated and taught me. I can truly say that she is a great inspiration in my life and she was not only a great teacher but also a great role model! »

Elise Chavez and Jonathan Guise. Photo by Jessica Booton Photography

Elise Chavez is the daughter of Venita and Craig Chávez. She will attend the University of New Mexico this fall. Elise chose Jonathan Guise, the current dance teacher at LAHS and also her dance teacher at Dance Arts Los Alamos, as Educator of Distinction. Describing Mr. Guise as his greatest role model and an inspiring teacher of excellence, Chávez wrote, “He taught me the importance of passion and hard work. It really taught me to set goals in school and work hard to achieve them. I was able to challenge myself and continue to surpass myself thanks to [him]. . . Mr. Guise knows how to keep everyone’s energy up and getting them excited about dancing. He helped me find my love for dance and now I want to share that love with others. He is a kind, funny and inspiring mentor.

Aleena Fullop / Photo by Jessica Booton Photography

Aleena Fullop is the daughter of Lindsey Fullop and Joseph Fullop. She plans to study genetics at Texas A&M University. Aleena chose Commander Brian Gauck, the former LAHS naval science instructor, as her Educator of Distinction. Of Commander Gauck, she wrote, “I admire him for his commitment to his students and to our country, and I am inspired by his courage and determination to achieve the lofty goals he sets for himself. He made my NJROTC class fun and engaging, and I immediately connected with him because of his focus on excellence and his ability to balance “tough love” with encouragement and understanding. . . Through his example, I aspire to be everything he stands for: treating everyone with kindness and respect, regardless of rank or gender, prioritizing community service, and balancing career and life as a family.

Kyle Hatler, left, and Scott Pomeroy. Photo by Jessica Booton Photography

Kyle Hatler is the son of Karri Hatler. He plans to study bioengineering at Montana State University this fall. Kyle chose Scott Pomeroy, the LAHS auto shop teacher, as his Educator of Distinction. He wrote in his essay, “I had no idea that my overly talkative, slightly crazy teacher would later become an incredible mentor and support to me. . . Mr. Pomeroy showed me that no matter how smart the kid is, how good their grades are, or what bad situation they find themselves in, if they have motivation and a good work ethic, they can accomplish great things. things. . . He cares more about making sure the kids can have a bright future and a fun job than making sure they get perfect grades.

Nina Johnson, right, and Melissa Goldman/Photo by Jessica Booton Photography

Nina Johnson is the daughter of Scot Johnson and Sylvia Johnson. She will attend the University of California, Santa Barbara in the fall and major in biochemistry and molecular biology. Nina chose Melissa Goldman, her Latin teacher, as an educator emeritus. She described how Ms. Goldman designed a one-on-one accelerated Latin course for herself so she could take AP Latin in her senior year. Nina’s essay said, “I will always appreciate the time and effort Mrs. Goldman puts into each of her students individually and the unconditional support she provides. I believe his work with me contributed a lot to my success at Los Alamos High School.

Christina Nisoli and Eric Beckstead/Photo by Jessica Booton Photography

Christina Nisoli is the daughter of Donatella Nisoli and Cristiano Nisoli. She will attend the University of New Mexico where she plans to study nursing. Tina named Eric Beckstead, her eighth-grade language arts teacher, as her educator emeritus. Nisoli wrote in her essay on Mr Beckstead: ‘He made me feel special and not a burden for being so talkative. . . He taught me to be a better person and I aspire to be as understanding and helpful as he is. He changed my life in more ways than one: not only did my English improve that year, but so did my self-confidence and worth.

Wesley Parker, right, and Matuszak/Photo by Jessica Booton Photography

Westley Parker is the son of Robert and Marsha Parker. He plans to major in physical therapy at Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah. Westley chose LAHS athletic trainer Mick Matuszak as Educator of Distinction. He wrote: “Over the past three years Mick has had a huge impact on my life. First, my time in her [Sports Medicine and Medical Terminology] class was always the best part of my day. He taught in an engaging way and it really helped spark my interest in the subject. The class he taught confirmed my decision to pursue medical school. . . I have always felt comfortable talking to Mick about all aspects of life, be it school, sports or future plans. He often gives me advice and tells me about when he was my age. He always has a lot of good things to say. . . Overall, Mick was one of the biggest influences in my high school career. It matched my learning style and helped me excel academically. More so, he expressed sincere care and concern for me as a person and a lifelong friend.

Camille Romero, right, and Margo Batha. Photo by Jessica Booton Photography

Camille Romero is the daughter of Cecilia Romero. She will attend Fort Lewis College in Durango, Colorado and major in business marketing. Camille has also named Margo Batha, her senior English teacher, as her Educator of Distinction. In her essay, Camille wrote of Batha, “This caring from a teacher helped me realize how teachers go above and beyond their ‘paid’ responsibilities just to make sure their students well and meet their basic needs. I honestly don’t think I could have gotten this far with college prep and applying for scholarships if it wasn’t for this teacher’s support system and letting me know that I am doing a good job, given my situation. Just hearing the words “I’m proud of you, kid” helped me build the motivation to succeed this school year. Ms. Batha helped make my senior year more enjoyable and helped me feel that I can accomplish anything, including college, despite my family’s financial struggles.

Ty Swavely and Mick Matuszak/Photo by Jessica Booton Photography

Ty Swavely is the son of Colleen and Dave Swavely. He will attend Montana State University and major in exercise science. Ty also chose Mick Matuszak as Educator Emeritus. He wrote: “Throughout four years of high school, teacher and athletic trainer Mick Matuszak was there for me. From helping me with studies and sports, to helping me with life and motivation, he always supported me. He is always positive, kind and honest with the students. . . Mr. Matuszak treats his students as individuals, ensuring they are on track to succeed in his challenging classes. . . Mr. Matuzak encouraged me to pursue my studies in kinesiology in college. He is always ready to help and keep students positive when faced with the adversity of injury and I cannot thank him enough for teaching at LAHS.

The LAPS Foundation is honored to award scholarships to these excellent graduates for their contributions of service and to recognize the teachers who have had such a significant impact on their lives.

About the LAPS Foundation
The Los Alamos Public Schools Foundation is an independent, nonprofit organization that helps the local community provide an extraordinary education for Los Alamos students. Los Alamos has donated more than $2 million to fund opportunities that students and teachers otherwise would not have. To learn more about the LAPS Foundation and how to get involved and/or donate, visit or call 505.500.6501. Donations to the LAPS Foundation, a 501(C)(3) organization, are tax deductible.