LANL Director Thom Mason Encourages Community Partnerships With Los Alamos Public Schools, Rotary Club

LANL Director Thom Mason speaks at Community Collaboration event at Bradbury Science Museum. Photo Courtesy RCLA

Rotary Club of Los Alamos

Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) Director, Thomas Mason was the keynote speaker at the recent Community Collaboration event at the Bradbury Science Museum sponsored by the Rotary Club of Los Alamos (RCLA) in alliance with the Los Alamos Public Schools (LAPS.) Mason discussed the Laboratory’s workforce programs and  outlined continuing opportunities for collaboration between regional organizations and LANL. LANL has seen a steady increase in the need for a skilled workforce over the past few years and he spoke on the importance of the Laboratory’s partnerships and pipelines that funnel talent to the Lab.

To meet this demand, it is critical that our students have the skills to enable them to succeed. LAPS Asst Superintendent, Carter Payne expanded why partnerships are essential for helping students achieve at their maximum potential and, while parent and community involvement has always been a cornerstone of public schools, greater recognition and support of these collaborative efforts is needed that integrates with the schools’ operations.

Research shows that when schools, parents, families, and communities work together, students earn higher grades, attend school more regularly, stay in school, and, are more motivated. A sense of community plays a paramount role in supporting children to develop feelings of belonging and security.

RCLA President, Alison Pannell explained that COVID hit students hard. The pandemic caused disruptions in routines and social isolation for children. Pannell posed “how can we in the community work together as we have done in the past to serve our youth?” She added, “Our hope is to empower students and strengthen community.” 

The suggested solution is to provide an academy probably to run during the school year which will be available to every 9th grader. The purpose is for participating students develop  resilience that empowers them.

The basis will be a low ropes course that provides a fantastic developmental and educational tool for participants of all abilities. Interspersed between challenges, breakout sessions will be offered to address young adult issues as determined by LAPS staff that may include such topics as social media impacts, bullying, suicide, or more positively, career advice, financial literacy, etc. Some of the commonly claimed outcomes of such a proposed course for our youngsters include enhancement of cooperation, decision making, self confidence, positive risk-taking, social cohesion, trust, self esteem, leadership, goal setting, and teamwork. Pannell asked, “Who wouldn’t want their teenagers to develop such critical skills?” And she added, “And it’s fun!”

Together the speakers laid out a picture of what’s possible and described a path in which the community can help to train our students to be successful. The RCLA is asking for community support. Anyone who wishes to volunteer on the task committee being assembled is most welcome. If you cannot, perhaps there is colleague or member of the community you may wish to recommend. Firstly, we will design the academy structure, then determine the construction needs and equipment, and finally ask for financial support to complete the task. Then we can welcome students to join us for the challenge.

Please contact Rotary Club President Alison Pannell at or any Rotarian to participate in this opportunity either in design and construction, as a course volunteer or as a financial supporter.