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Senior members of the 2017 Bulldog football team pose with the Artesia Public Schools board of education. (Teresa Lemon – Daily Press)

The Artesia Public Schools Board of Education presented certificates of appreciation to the senior members of the 2017 Class 5A state champion Bulldog football team Monday during its regularly-scheduled meeting at the APS Administration Building.

Dr. Crit Caton, superintendent, read two cards he received, one from Tammy Richards, representing the NMAA, which stated, “I just wanted to express my gratitude for the fabulous hospitality we received from the championship game last weekend. Your staff, the community, and the players were all so respectful and competed with class at all times. Thanks for all you do.”

The other, from Jamie Widner, superintendent of the Melrose Public Schools, read, “We’d like to take this opportunity to congratulate the Artesia schools for the accomplishment of winning the 2017 state 5A football title. Your athletes performed superb in winning the championship. To win the blue trophy is truly a great accomplishment and will be savored by these young people for a life time. It’s a tremendous honor for your boys, the program, the school, and the community, especially when it is the 30th football title for your school, the most in state history by far.

“This is a reflection of what football means to your school and to your community; it’s quite an honor for student athletes and their coaches to be the best in the state and to prove it on the field. Once again, from the Melrose Public Schools and our community, we say well done on bringing home the blue trophy this year.”

The team will graduate 33 seniors in the spring, and Caton congratulated them for their accomplishment from “the community, our school district, family, friends, everybody in Artesia. I got kidded quite a bit about being able to hand out that blue trophy. (Basketball) Coach (Michael) Mondragon was one of the first ones who said, ‘We want you to come over and teach the ‘defensive slide’ on how to retreat.’

“I have had the privilege of giving you guys three of those over the last six-and-a-half years that I’ve been superintendent, and I learned the first time against Centennial that you don’t stay out there, you hand and you retreat, otherwise you get run over. Congratulations to you and to all the programs we have in our school system, our band always gets sweepstakes, our FFA brings home state and national championships year after year, choir has a great program. Again, the Bulldogs and the Bulldog football team are state champions.”

“We want you to know how much the community appreciates what you have done; we realize how much work it is to do what you have done and to be as successful as you’ve been,” APS Board President Lowell Irby said. “You have been one more honor added to Artesia and the Artesia Public Schools system, and we appreciate that. It’s something you can remember for the rest of your lives, congratulations.”

Success Maker award sponsor Tate Branch, left, and Tate Branch Dodge staffer Aaron Dishman, right, along with Central Elementary School principal Tammy Davis, center right, congratulate Central bilingual education teacher Cecilia Najares, center left, on her selection. (Teresa Lemon – Daily Press)

Also at Monday’s meeting, the Success Maker award was presented to Cecilia Najares, bilingual education teacher at Central Elementary School, by sponsor Tate Branch.

“Cecilia is one of those people you don’t have to ask to do anything,” said Tammy Davis, principal at Central. “She sees what needs to be done and she does it. She has a wonderful relationship with the kids, the parents, and the staff.

“She is a very unique individual. She supports us not only in the bilingual program but in every aspect of our school. We love her and we couldn’t do it without her, and we appreciate this. No one deserves it any more than her.”

In other business, assistant superintendent of personnel and student services John Ross Null presented the 2017 Educator Vacancy Report from Dr. Karen Trujillo with New Mexico State University.

Assistant superintendent of instruction and federal programs Danny Parker received the board’s approval to renew the service contract with PowerSchool Student Information Systems in the amount of $43,675.50 for another year.

Assistant superintendent of operations Thad Phipps received the board’s approval to accept design proposals for HVAC renovations at Yucca and Roselawn elementary schools, with the upgrades anticipated to begin during spring break at Yucca and at the end of the school year at Roselawn. Phipps also received the board’s approval to replace the existing asphalt/chip seal entrances to Bulldog Bowl due to excessive pot holes, in the amount of $25,948.72.

Caton announced the retirement of Debbie Juarez, registrar at Zia Intermediate School, and the hiring of Debbie Kishur as her replacement effective Jan. 8, 2018. He also announced the resignations of Tiffany Hall, speech language pathologist in the special education department, and Ramona Hecht, Park Junior High School custodian.

Phipps reported the welding shop at Artesia High School is nearing completion and should be available to the students after the Christmas break.

The next regular scheduled meeting of the board will be at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 16, 2018.