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Aztec, Bloomfield will honor graduating seniors with banners featuring their photo

Sam Ribakoff
Farmington Daily Times

FARMINGTON — High school seniors in Aztec and Bloomfield may not be getting the graduation they had anticipated, but the cities and school districts have found ways to honor the graduates.

Seniors from Aztec High School, Vista Nueva High School, Bloomfield High School and Charlie Y. Brown High School will each have a banner displayed in their honor. These banners will include pictures of the seniors.

Aztec banners will be displayed in Riverside Park

Banners will be going up on May 12 in Riverside Park in Aztec, according to Laci Phillips, a school board member who is organizing the project for the Aztec seniors. The banners will remain displayed through Memorial Day.

Phillips said there are 16 graduating seniors at Vista Nueva and 184 at Aztec High School who will be honored with banners. This will likely cost around $5,000, and the school district is partnering with the City of Aztec in those efforts.

“There’s been so much that’s been taken away from seniors this year,” Phillips said.

She recalled her child, who is a high school senior, saying, “I wish I would have known that was the last time I walked through those halls.”

Bloomfield raising money for banners

Meanwhile, Bloomfield is working to raise enough money to hang banners on light poles on U.S. Highway 550 and U.S. Highway 64 in the city.

Each banner costs $25. People can drop off donations at Bloomfield City Hall, 915 N. 1st St. Checks should be made out to “Bloomfield High School Project Graduation.”

“We’re hoping that the community will be able to chip in without having to put the burden on individual parents,” said Autumn McMurray, who is one of the project organizers.

Bloomfield is hoping to purchase more than 200 banners, and is trying to raise $5,100 to do that. McMurray partnered with Donica Sharpe on the project. Sharpe works part-time as a consultant for the city.

“We’re going to raise the money and put up the banners if they can or can’t pay,” Sharpe said.

Bloomfield City Manager George Duncan said the city will provide brackets and light poles for each banner and he encouraged residents to donate if they have the money.

“If people have the means to buy these banners, we just feel it would be a nice gesture to give back to the senior class this year,” he said.

As a teacher, McMurray said she looks forward to getting graduation announcements from her former students each year and displays them in her classroom. But this year the last portion of the school year was cut short and ended very abruptly.

“I didn’t get to say thank you and I’m so proud of you,” she said.

Helping organize the project is one way she hopes to send that message to the students and she hopes the entire community will come together to offer the graduates that same message through the banner project.

The banners will not include the school name, and graduates from the alternative high school will be treated the same as graduates from Bloomfield High School.

“I think that it’s something that would be beneficial to our community, to celebrate something while there’s so much negativity and disappointment in our community,” McMurray said. “Something so positive and light will be good for community morale.”

Sam Ribakoff is a visual journalist for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4621 or via email at sribakoff@daily-times.com.

Reporter Hannah Grover contributed to this story.

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