LAHS Seniors Yard Sign Surprise Brings Joy To Students, Families And Communities At Large

94746430_10223275388058187_3055664159300517888_o (1)Los Alamos High School Senior Class President Maddie Ovaska shows one of 300 yard signs that volunteers placed at the homes of the Class of 2020 throughout the region Friday. Courtesy photo

94317326_10223275388218191_8883972519850147840_o (1)Los Alamos High School Senior Class President Maddie Ovaska labels the yard signs for some 300 graduating seniors. Courtesy photo

abel-chavezLos Alamos High School Senior Class Vice President Ellie Oldham is one of the instigators of the yard signs project. Courtesy photo

IMG_0925Los Alamos High School Class of 2020 students and family members with their yard signs. Courtesy photo


Last Friday, some 300 yard signs appeared throughout Los Alamos and the surrounding region honoring Los Alamos High School’s Class of 2020. Photos of seniors and their families posing with their signs in front of their homes quickly flooded social media and the community responded joyfully, amazed at the project and the collaboration involved in the project.

Senior class president Maddie Ovaska told the Los Alamos Reporter on Saturday, that signs were placed everywhere from Los Alamos to Embudo, Abiquiu and Jemez Springs. She said that when it was announced that school would not be in session for the remainder of the school year, she talked to senior class sponsors Becca Jones and Kimberly Engelking.

“They help all the students in the class and especially me as class president to make things happen,” Ovaska said. “We talked about ways we could honor seniors seeing as we are not having a normal end to our year. We came up with a list.”

She said community members and staff were all part of sending in ideas and that more of those ideas will be implemented later in the month.

“We had a big meeting with Ms Jones, Ms Engelking, our principal Carter Payne, senior class vice president Ellie Oldham, Supt. Kurt Steinhaus, LAPS Foundation director Jenny McCumber and Kiwanis president Cheryl Pongratz. Luckily, the LAPS Foundation and the Kiwanis were able to come up with the funding we needed to purchase the signs,” Ovaska said.

She said design was ready to go so the signs were ordered that they and showed up four business days later. Ovaska obtained the names and addresses of the seniors and write the names and addresses of each one on a Post-It note color-coded by neighborhood.

“Each senior had a sign delivered to their home on Friday. The exciting part was making sure every single senior got a sign,” she said.

Ovaska said a large number of LAHS staff members helped deliver the signs.

“There were plenty of people that were happy to help. They even checked back with us to see if there was anything more they could do to,” she said. “I’m very happy and grateful. I think it was a very exciting thing that an idea popped up and community members, the school and everyone helped with the process. It happened so quickly and it was great that there were adults and staff members that collaborated on the project.”

Ovaska said other plans in the works are to have seniors and their families custom decorate the front doors of their homes. She added that for example if a senior plays sports they could put their jersey up.

“What a great way for our community to come together and recognize our graduating high school seniors.  LAPS Foundation enthusiastically joined this show of support,” Jennifer McCumber said Monday.

“Kiwanis is delighted to support our awesome seniors,” Cheryl Pongratz said. “It was exciting that every student in the Class of 2020 got to have a sign at their home.”

LAHS staff who helped with the project included: Alison Renner, Analicia Ronquillo, Anne Shirey, Becca Jones, Brandi Hults, Carter Payne, Colleen Swavely, Elizabeth Bates, Emily Tew, Isabel Duque, Jacqueline Chavez, Jill Gonzales, Julia Kuehn, Kathy Hipwood, Kimberly Engelking, Kristen Pyle, Kurt Steinhaus, Leanne Hick, Louise Foliot, Lynn Ovaska, Melissa Laesar, Michael Montano, Michelle Holland, Stephanie Meyer, Sue Wilson and Susan Siegler.

Ovaska will be attending the honors college at Arizona State University majoring in biological sciences. She is hoping to continue on into something medical but she’s not exactly sure what yet.