By Erin Dorrance
White Sands Missile Range Public Affairs
A field trip to a missile launch, a robotbuilding class and a gym class on the golf course, are all typical educational activities at White Sands School on White Sands Missile Range.
The school, which is part of Las Cruces Public Schools, offers kindergarten through eighth-grade students tremendous opportunities and individualized attention. Any student can enroll in the school.
White Sands School is a STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics)-focused school with class sizes often smaller than average. The attendance of 300 students is rapidly dropping to about 225 students by August because of the departure of the 2nd Engineering Battalion, a military organization of 800 soldiers that is leaving White Sands Missile Range due to a Department of the Army reorganization.
“We are not shutting our doors,” Principal Thomas Bulger said. “This school has been around since 1948, and Las Cruces Public Schools is committed to keeping White Sands School open, but we are trying to increase enrollment so that we can keep all of the amazing, dedicated teachers who work here, as well as maintain the numerous youth activities that exist on White Sands Missile Range.”
Students who live in Las Cruces, as well as surrounding areas such as El Paso and Alamogordo, are welcome to enroll at White Sands School. Parents and care custodians who do not currently work or live on the military installation can be granted an annual visitor pass.
“People think that White Sands Missile Range is extremely far away from Las Cruces,” said Shawn Ticho, Child, Youth & School Services coordinator. “I live in Las Cruces and it takes me 32 minutes to get from my house to the office, which really is about the same amount of time it takes you to get anywhere in Las Cruces. You just can’t beat the opportunities that White Sands School and CYS Services has to offer.”
Parents who are active duty, reserve, National Guard, DoD civilian and DoD contractor are eligible for CYS Services. If parents have any questions regarding eligibility and programs/services they can call CYS Services at 678-2441.
Beyond education, students are able to participate in sports, dance, music and other extracurricular activities.
White Sands School and White Sands Missile Range have a lot to offer students.
“Fifty percent of our eighth graders are early high schoolers, which means they have completed high school credits already,” Bulger said. “We are setting students up for success … that is our main goal.”
White Sands School is preparing for the 2015-16 school year. For more information about registering students, call 674- 1241.
U.S. Army photo by Laura Almaraz