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GRADS participants Bianca De La Rosa, far left, and Angelica De La Rosa, far right, show off an Artesia Bulldog fundraising blanket and pose with the children in the program. Children from left are Van Cheney, Jasmine Anguiano, Andrew Sotelo, Evaleen Perales and Audri Molina. (Ashley Trujillo photo)

By ASHLEY TRUJILLO
Daily Press Staff Writer

Summer has come to an end, and the Artesia High School GRADS (Graduation Reality and Dual-Role Skills) program has a way to keep warm through the winter months, while helping to fund a good cause.

GRADS is selling blankets at a cost of $60 to help fund the program. The blankets are printed with various Artesia landmarks, such as Bulldog Bowl, Bulldog Pit, a 1924 derrick, an Artesian well, the now-destroyed Artesia Hotel, the museum and a once-popular high school hangout called “Frenchies.”

AHS GRADS teacher Becky Torrez designed the blankets over a decade ago, and not long after began using the profits to help meet the program’s needs. Money raised from blanket sales has provided the GRADS daycare with necessities like playground equipment, evacuation cribs and high chairs.

“These teenage parents have a hard time,” Torrez said. “We try to keep an eye on them, help them and get them to graduate.”

The GRADS program has been using a wide spectrum of resources to help young parents graduate from AHS for more than 11 years. A teen mother is given instruction and guidance beginning in her pregnancy and continuing throughout her high school years.

“We teach parenting skills,” Torrez said. “We offer career counseling and teach communication skills. We’ll help them with financial aid. … For the rest of the story, subscribe in print and on the web.