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School board adopts tobacco-free policy

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On Tuesday night, Kevin Pulido and Adrian Rodriguez from Evolvement ask the Roswell school board to update the school district’s tobacco policies. (Trevier Gonzalez Photo)

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Wrapping up the calendar year, the Roswell Independent School District board addressed both encouraging items and difficult topics in the meeting on Tuesday night.

The Goddard High School Stargazers sparkled and sang holiday tunes to begin the meeting, which added a celebratory element for the imminent winter break. A moment of silence was held for the school shooting in Aztec and that reverence sustained Tuesday’s meeting.

The board followed through and approved all of the action items. Goddard High School will be making a trip to Texas Tech University Health Sciences center in February. Four grants, three of them STEM focused, were approved, and the tobacco-free school policy was adopted.

Two students from Roswell High School spoke before the board. Kevin Pulido and Adrian Rodriguez are student advocates in Evolvement, a youth movement for high school teens promoting a tobacco-free New Mexico.

Pulido said he was happy to help make a difference in his community by keeping friends and family from harming themselves by smoking. Rodriguez said seeing smoking and smoking-related illnesses motivated him to join the 24/7 campaign.

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Both students plan to continue making a difference in the future. Pulido hopes to attend college with a football scholarship to study photography. Rodriguez wants to attend college to study music.

The RISD school board is the first in the state to adopt the comprehensive tobacco-free school policy. The campaign 24/7 helps the schools update their tobacco policies and attitudes in the communities.

The New Mexico Department of Health’s Tobacco Use Prevention and Control Program with Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement Funds supports 24/7 and Evolvement.

Nicky Besser, the senior program manager of TUPAC, said the program does not just help these policies get enacted, but sends in signage and other tools to keep the program going.

The reoccurring theme of safety in the schools was covered in a bullying survey by Patricio Lujan, director of instruction, in which elementary, middle, and high school students in the district gave their answers on their perceived safety.

“As we watch the news and my heart was broken with what happened in Aztec,” said board member Rueben Sanchez. “It hit home with us and what we had to deal with years ago. I want to extend my heart out to Aztec. With that, where are we at? What are we doing as a board to make sure that we’re doing everything possible, so that this doesn’t happen?”

The school board wished the RISD staff happy holidays and encouraged them to have a safe, well-deserved break.