Ms. Stevens is taking her band students to take on state. This is an event that the band students are looking forward to all year. The students work hard each day in school and out of school practicing on their instrument.
How do you feel about taking your band students to State?
"I am excited to take these students to State! Bands come from all over the state to compete here so it's exciting to show everyone what we have to offer and also to hear other bands perform as well."
How is the progress going with your band students?
"Our progress towards State is going well. We are playing the same program we played for our District Festival, but now it is more refined after getting feedback from our district judges. They are really learning how to polish a piece of music and getting everything out of it."
Have you seen any improvements with your students over time?
"I definitely have, that's the whole goal of being in band year after year is to be constantly making progress. It's amazing to watch their progress over time. They start out in elementary or middle school, not even knowing how to put an instrument together to competing at a high level and playing some really challenging music on their instrument."
What sort of improvements have you made?
"The students in band are able to go so far beyond just playing the correct notes and rhythms. When you are able to play with such precision, as they have, they are able to focus on the smallest details and put emotion behind the music. That's what makes a superior performance, when you can go beyond the basics and really invest into the emotion of a piece of music and give the audience an amazing musical experience. That's the goal, and I think the band has improved beyond the basics so we can achieve that ultimate goal of a truly superior performance."
What are you doing different this year for your band?
"This year, I've been relentless in holding them to a high standard when it comes to their musicality. When I was new here, I was more cautious and not as demanding, because I didn't know what to expect. Now that I know these students and know what they're capable of, I know that they are capable of great things and I expect nothing less than their best efforts. When they put all that they have into a performance, it shows and it is just incredible. This year, I'm making sure that that happens every time, that they never settle for less than their best."
In preparation for FCCLA week, members were hard at work with the phenomenal task of spreading awareness about the club and the challenges they’ve set to involve KCHS students more in their families, communities and future careers. Although FCCLA has expanded abundantly in New Mexico alone, our local FCCLA chapter seems to be having trouble with recruitment, making awareness an immediate need.
FCCLA is an acronym for Family, Career and Community Leaders of America. The members of this organization regard the areas of family, community, and career as essentials in today’s world which are somewhat lacking and need to be reinforced. State Officer Faith Lee says that students should be better trained in all of these fields before they leave high school because it will prepare them to be better members of the community, the work force and the family. She also says that FCCLA is useful in high school; it can help you to be a better student and a better friend and it enables you to talk to people. “Originally it was my eighth grade FACS teacher that got me involved in it,” Faith Lee says, “that year, when I went to state, something clicked inside me. That was the place I needed to be. It helped me to do something for the world around me; it made me happy. I don’t think I would be the person I am today without FCCLA.”
Recently FCCLA’s KCHS chapter has been forced to unite with the middle school chapter due to their drop in membership. Member Mariana Lee says that FCCLA provides a lot of opportunities that some students wouldn’t otherwise encounter, such as traveling and meeting new people, but even these opportunities have been diminished by low membership. “We only have three people. There are more that say they’re in FCCLA or say that they want to be in FCCLA, but they don’t come to meetings or the competitions,” Mariana says. Kirtland Central’s FCCLA advisor, Ms. Donna Yazzie says that the only requirement for Family, Career, and Community Leaders of America is attendance and that there are plenty of benefits to being in the club. FCCLA was made to make leaders, and according to both advisors and
members, it definitely does. “I like that it teaches public speaking, oral presentation. It gets them to stand out and talk to others… gives them an opportunity to be in a leadership position, and it’s fun. I’m enjoying myself,” Ms. Yazzie states.
The purpose of Dine Youth Council is “to increase awareness of Native American issues and to promote Native American culture,” said Mr. Mark, the sponsor of the Dine Youth Council club. The D.Y.C. club tries to share and express their culture, not only to Native American students, but with everyone here at this school.
In the beginning of the year they have had one big event, that was to find the royalty of KCHS. Everyone in the club has managed to give and help in ways that could benefit those in the club and those around. Another big event that has happened would be the float they had made to be in the Shiprock parade. But a big event that is coming up would be the Unity Conference in July, in Denver, Colorado.
This is Mr. Mark's second year sponsoring the club, and since then he has said that the club has made an improvement on the membership numbers. They are hoping that more would want to be able to join next year and share and give culture to the community. Of course anyone is able to join and try and give and maybe learn about other people’s cultures. Everyone in the Dine Youth Council are not all Dine, some are from mixed backgrounds, for example some are Hopi.
The members are, “all different. Each provides different things to the table. Tapaha and Erkia are outgoing, Danielle and Alesia are very participant, and all the people who were in the pageant were very talented.” Mr. Mark knows that everyone in that club is very helpful and does something that benefits the club in some way. The different responsibilities that the council members do would be attending the meetings, keeping their academic grades up and to participate.
Everyone in the club brings something to the table and Mr. Mark would like all students to consider joining next year to share culture. The students in the club now are having fun planning and sharing their culture with people around them.
After school, hallways are filled with a thoughtful atmosphere as players group together to play one another in room 302 at Kirtland Central High School, while most students are on their way home. Members meet on Tuesdays and Thursdays until 4:30 to engage in the captivating game we all know to be chess.
“I believe that joining chess club has overall made me a better student,” says Adrian Dawson, a club member for 2 years, “from improving respect, self-dignity, and communication skills, chess club has also helped me make many new friends.”
This current variant of Kirtland’s Chess Club was started last year by Ms. Sabino, the club sponsor, with the goal to teach chess. However, both Mr. Termini and Ms. Sabino agree that the club holds a lot more substance than just teaching chess. Students are enabled access to the lively mood that ranges from competitiveness to that of amiableness.
The club hosted a ‘Staff v. Students’ tournament back in November to involve more students in the abstract strategy game.
“Chess can motivate students to be competitive, succeed academically, and feel part of the Kirtland Central High School Community,” Sabino said, later adding, “It’s something to do after school and you really don’t have to know anything about Chess to join. Our players are very friendly, and will teach you the basics.”
Last year, Kirtland Central High School placed second at the NMAA state tournament in April. They traveled to Newcomb for the first ever Skyhawk Invitational Chess Tournament (the first ever CCSD-only tournament) and placed first.
Travel is something the club strives to do as frequently as possible in order to open up more opportunities for members to experience tournaments as well as to mingle with Chess Club members of other schools.