I was driving back from Albuquerque after hanging a New Mexico State Fair art exhibit for Hobbs Municipal Schools. I took the old Route 66, now Interstate 40, back east and turned onto 285 at Clines Corner. My FM radio started breaking up once I passed Vaughn and I had a while to think to myself or listen to AM talk radio. This trip, I chose to think. It was in the evening.
I started seeing the shadows creep long across the range. I could see mountains far in the distance on one side and a meandering train on the other side. With every mile the sky took up more and more of the landscape. The clouds were stunning as the sun was setting. Once I passed Roswell, I started smelling oil, the industry that helped this state through the latest tough financial period when the economic status of the country had really taken a turn for the worst. Finally, I arrived in Hobbs and passed the brand new city limit sign where the city boasts of over 43,000 people. I was home.
What draws people to this area? What enchants them to stay especially in the southeast corner of Lea County? Is it the vistas of 2/3’s sky and 1/3 land, the industry or the people? Is it because it is a great place to have students in school? After all, the state has wisely invested substantially in the arts in the elementary through the Fine Arts Education Act. The community interests like the Maciolek School of Dance have also met the schools with matched intensity. The strength of Lea County is that the community has supported the schools as equal partners not enemies.
This week, I watched Karen Salb work with her talented team of dance teachers like Mika Newey, Janey Roan, Brittney Sisson and observed the students giving their best everyday. The Stone Elementary students did a great job practicing scenes about the cultural influences that have made New Mexico what it is today. The exciting thing about New Mexico is that the students are part of the enchantment. While these 5th Grade students are celebrating an important milestone in the states history, they are beginning the first miles of the next 100 years of statehood. One can only imagine what lies ahead for these students. And so the Road to Enchantment continues…