2011-04-27, Tracey Bryan, The Bridge of Southern New Mexico

Club president, Richelle Ponder rang the bell to open the meeting. Harry Hansen gave the invocation. Richelle then led us in the Pledge of Allegiance. Paul Comeau led the club in singing “My Country Tis of Thee.” Next, we greeted one another and learned later that Dave Lemen was the mystery greeter. We had no guests of Rotarians.

Lunch is servedPres. Ponder announced that we would be doing a beautification project as we did a while back with planting of trees in town. This time around, we will be replacing plants on six medians on W. Picacho Road. The date is set for June 6th. Barbara Rose Farber announced that we have 22 restaurants who will be participating in our “Taste of Las Cruces” event.

Happy bucks were collected from Charles Tharp, Dinus Briggs, Charlie Yaryan, Jim Bullock, Mary Ellen McKay Charles Townley, and Bill Wheeler. Four of our high school students were present and each gave their parting speeches before the program started. NMSU scored a grand slam as all four said they planned to attend our local university.

Tyler GillelandSean HarrisMarissa GuerraKevin SchumeisterThe Program—Tracey Bryan, The Bridge

Wanda Mattiace introduced our speaker, noting that she has a B.A. in Journalism and has been instrumental in spearheading The Bridge program for potential high school dropouts.

Bridge LogoMs. Bryan’s presentation was compelling given that she had plenty of statistical data to support her conclusions. Not speaking like a parrot from well-rehearsed “talking points,” she actually made a strong case for the work of The Bridge program.

Locally, we have a 49% dropout rate in our high schools. The lifelong cost of high school dropouts to our society can exceed 400,000 per student. This is because dropouts, more than high school graduates, end up unemployed, in poor health, living in poverty, in jail, and/or as single parents. Such people do not pay much in taxes and certainly do not spend much money stimulating the economy. In short, they cannot position themselves to be “good” citizens without help. This problem is what The Bridge addresses.

The Bridge does not run a business or a school, but it seeks and advocates collaboration among the public school system and private business leaders to target students at risk and provide for them a path toward graduation.Tracey Bryan

In our community, the Early College High School is an example of how potential dropouts can make it. To date, 90% of the students who take ECHS actually graduate. Of the116 “first generation college attendees,” not one has dropped out. In order for students to earn a high school diploma and two years of college credit, they have to have a strong work ethic. In fact, many of those who complete the ECHS program continue on at a university to earn bachelor degrees. Businesses which provide internships for these students not only set the climate for working, they discover that the interns make good employees. By building a stronger workforce (and saving the dropouts) we can realize a stronger economic future.

Tracey mentioned the new ECHS campus being built on the NMSU campus. It will cost $18 million (much, much less than the cost of the new high school opening next fall) and it will have 500 students. By having a smaller number of students, the faculty, staff, and business leaders can mentor and encourage student growth more effectively.

After the Program

John Strebler won the drawing. The 4-Way Test was recited as we closed the meeting. 

<prior week   following week>

Guests of Rotarians

Guest  Host

Visiting Rotarians

Rotarian Home Club
Pam Lillibridge Rio Grande

Student Guests

Student School
Tyler Gilliland Oñate
Marissa Guerra San Andres
Sean Harris Mesilla Valley Christian
Kevin Schumeister Mayfield


Rotarian Date Club
Kim Hakes 4/20 Rio Grande
Elaine Szalay 4/27 Rio Grande
Dinus Briggs 4/6 Brookings, SD
Dinus Briggs 4/13 Brookings, SD
Dinus Briggs 4/20 Rio Grande

May Birthdays of Rotarians

Ana Mangino May 2
James Gerwels May 3
Barbara Andrew May 6
Damian Martinez May 7
David O’Brien May 12
Lyn Ames May 20
Elaine Szalay May 25
Mark Santiago May 28
Donald Trump May 32

May Wedding Anniversaries

Matt & Betsy Holt May 1
Larry & Kelly Salopek May 2
Ted & Merry Lee Shelton May 15
Robert & Linda Seaton May 21
Earl & Mary Phillips May 23
Kim & Lisa Hakes May 24
Craig & Chandra Tharp May 29

May Club Anniversaries

Jim Parks 24 years May 6
Maurice Hollingsworth 5 years May 10
Richelle Ponder 10 years May 23

Submitted by Blaine Goss Blaine Goss