School board chooses name of new high school

Joshua Kellogg
The proposed site for the newly named San Juan College High School is located on the first floor of the Learning Commons Building, as seen Thursday on the San Juan College campus.

FARMINGTON – The Farmington Municipal School District Board of Education chose the name of San Juan College High School for the proposed early college high school project during its Thursday night meeting.

Board members approved the name recommended by the Early College High School Planning Committee, which is comprised of representatives of San Juan College and the Aztec, Bloomfield and Farmington school districts.The districts and the college have been working together to establish a new high school where students will have the ability to earn a high school diploma and two years of college credit in four years.

Don Lorett, early college high school principal, told the board members the area superintendents on the committee wanted to honor the dedication and commitment of San Juan College in developing the new school.

“They have just been absolutely phenomenal with their support of this program,” Lorett said.

Farmington Superintendent Gene Schmidt said the Farmington school board approved the name because the high school will be in its district.

The project has been operating on a $349,000 grant from the New Mexico Public Education Department awarded last summer to develop the school in anticipation of opening in August.

Lorett said the name will allow the school to begin setting up a website and social media accounts as it prepares to start the application process for enrollment. The school will offer ninth through 12th grade and plans to accept 40 freshmen each year until enrollment reaches 160 students.

Lorett said the early college high school will host recruitment meetings starting next month to give parents and students an opportunity to learn more about the school The application process is scheduled to start in late February or early March.

Three employees have been hired by Lorett to help develop the school.

Deadra Torrez, former counselor at Animas Elementary School in Farmington, has been hired as the school’s counselor. Natalie Stark, financial aid and college entrance counselor at Piedra Vista High School in Farmington, will be the liaison working between the school and San Juan College, and Laurie Jordan, the former principals’ secretary at Farmington High School, was hired as the school’s administrative assistant.

An utilization study is being conducted by the architecture firm FBT Architects on a possible location for the early college high school school on the San Juan College main campus. The firm is currently working on the design work for the new Farmington High School project.

Lorett said the space on the first floor of the Learning Commons building below the college library is being investigated as a possible site for the school. That area currently is being used by the college’s Student Activities organization, which would relocate to another site on campus if the high school moves into the space.

Joshua Kellogg covers education for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4627.