Los Alamos High School Principal Carter Payne, in yellow and green, with members of the LAHS Student Council at the awards presentation and teachers Jon Lathrop and Lynn Ovaska during the NMASC State Conference. Photo Courtesy LAPS
J. Carter Payne, principal of Los Alamos High School, was honored as the Administrator of the Year by the New Mexico Association of Student Councils (NMASC) during their 70th State Conference hosted by Eldorado High School.
Payne was nominated for this award by seniors Emily Holmes, Student Body President; Rebekah Lockhart, Student Body Vice President; Maddie Ovaska, Senior Class President; and Ellie Oldham, Senior Class Vice President.
Seniors nominated Mr. Payne in the fall. The award was presented by juniors at the State Student Council.
“To have this recognition come from our students really means a lot to me. It’s a big honor — and a bit daunting! It makes me want to work even harder to try to really be the administrator they see me as,” said Payne.
NMASC established this award to honor those school administrators who have demonstrated extended support of Student Council and Student Council activities at their school.
Junior Class President William McTeigue made the introduction during the ceremony, saying, “Because he is the most supportive administrator a student council could ever hope for, we are proud to introduce Mr. Payne as NMASC’s Administrator of the Year.”
In addition to McTeigue, Junior Class Vice President Julianna Baca and Student Body Secretary Leeson Weaver also spoke before the award presentation. Below are excerpts from each:
William: “Imagine your principal riding a bike into your dark gym during a pep rally covered in glow sticks or letting one of your teachers, who is battling cancer, shave all of your principal’s hair off during a pep rally to raise money for childhood cancer. Last fall, when we asked Mr. Payne if he would ride our old-school Topper bike covered in glowsticks into the pep rally, Mr. Payne loved our idea and accepted it enthusiastically. As he rode around the dark gym on his lit-up bike, Student Council passed out glowsticks and the energy in the gym got super spirited. It was no surprise that the glow sticks got thrown around the room and soon they were flying towards Mr. Payne. Instead of perceiving this as something disrespectful, Mr. Payne remained spirited and encouraged students to keep throwing their glow sticks at him. Mr. Payne on the Topper Bike was one of the most memorable events of our Homecoming pep rally. Promoting school spirit and inspiring student engagement are two of the main goals of Student Council, and Mr. Payne has played a crucial role in helping us reach these goals.”
Leeson: “Mr. Payne is the most committed principal you can imagine, and being Administrator of the Year helps us recognize his sincere dedication to our Student Council and our school. Some of the best words to describe Mr. Payne are welcoming and supportive — he goes out of his way to make each student feel like they have a place at LAHS. Not only does he support new ideas from students, most mornings, Mr. Payne stands at the main entrance of the high school to greet each student. As students, it’s clear to us that Mr. Payne is always willing to hear new ideas and to help us make them happen. Mr. Payne visits our Student Leadership class for a weekly meeting and he often reminds us that he hates to say “no.” Instead, whenever he can, he’d much rather explain all the points of view and try to find a way to make our ideas happen. When the seniors wanted to re-start the tradition of a Winter Ball Dance, Mr. Payne said, “Yes, but we have to find a date that works for everyone.” When we wanted to host a Homecoming Bonfire, Mr. Payne said, “Yes, but it has to be safe and we have to work with the local fire department.”
Julianna: “Mr. Payne has taught LAHS Student Council that leadership is not about doing what we want to do, but instead about working as a team. He is always willing to listen to ideas whenever we want to try out something new. Mr. Payne regularly invites Student Council students with ideas to make an appointment with him. He tries to say yes as much as he can. For example, when this year’s Homecoming dance committee decided to have a Meow Wolf theme, they wanted a fridge as part of their decorations. After they found one at the local dump, they enthusiastically texted Mr. Payne and our sponsors to get it delivered to the high school. Not only was Mr. Payne as excited as the students to get it, he even offered his old dryer to add to the fun. Mr. Payne works with us. He is a great administrator not just because he gives Student Council what we ask for, but because he listens, helps us improve our ideas and then cheers us on. By continually supporting us, especially by advocating for our ideas to teachers, fellow administrators, and the school district, Student Council has come to see Mr. Payne as a friend and an ally. No matter how ridiculous our ideas may be, we know that Mr. Payne will listen to us respectfully and will do his best to make our ideas come to life. He has shown us that TRUE LEADERSHIP is generous, selfless and cooperative.
Established in 1950, the New Mexico Association of Student Councils was founded by a group of educators who wanted to create an organization for student leaders that would encourage them to practice the democratic process, citizenship and service while fostering an exchange of ideas and problem solving strategies in New Mexico’s schools, as noted on their website.