May 2014 Column

   Sergio Torres should receive a thank you from 40 percent of all 2014 high school graduates in the state of New Mexico.  Sergio graduated from Hobbs High School on May 19 with 414 other HHS students.
  torres Last November, I was fortunate to take Sergio to Santa Fe where he testified in front of the Legislative Education Study Committee. Superintendents across the state had received notice that as many as 46 percent of all seniors in the state of New Mexico were in jeopardy of not graduating due to a requirement that every student must score “proficient” on a standardized exam in Math, Science, Reading, Social Studies and Writing.
   Sergio spoke with clarity and passion as he explained the dilemma the current rules and regulations were imposing on himself and his peers.  While attending HHS, Sergio spent twelve to fourteen hours a day at school.  He was a standout goalie for the soccer team and a manager for the Eagle basketball team. Practice typically started before school and finished well into the evening.  Because Sergio also took Advanced Placement classes, he spent two to three hours studying each evening to ensure he kept up with his academics. In addition to his dedication to athletics and academics, he’s a great young man!  He’s well-spoken, polite and the kind of student you want representing your school.
  At the time Sergio spoke to the LESC, he was unsure if he would be eligible to graduate from Hobbs High School in the spring. He had taken a make-up exam in September but had not received his results.  LESC Co-Chairman Representative Rick Miera congratulated Sergio after his presentation and thanked him for his comments. Fortunately (and I believe largely due to Sergio’s testimony), the New Mexico Public Education Department allowed districts to create policy that could circumvent the current regulation if they could prove through their curriculum and standards that students would truly graduate with proficiency in the aforementioned subjects.  We have yet to see the number of graduates this ruling helped but it is evident that hundreds of students were able to walk across the stage of their high school commencement in May because Sergio Torres was able to explain his story so that legislators could understand.
  I’m sure Sergio will be a productive citizen. High school graduates across the great state of New Mexico owe him a debt of gratitude.  I doubt Sergio will receive any thank-you notes in the mail. But I want to publicly say how proud I am of Sergio Torres and how it was truly awesome to watch him walk across the stage draped in black and gold to receive his Hobbs High School diploma.  Great job Sergio. Good luck and thank you!

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