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U.S. Education Secretary Visits Santa Fe High School

Kevin Meerschaert
U.S Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona and U.S Senator Ben Ray Lujan speak with Santa Fe High School students about mental health issues facing young people in the era of COVID-19.

U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona was in Santa Fe Thursday morning to speak with students at Santa Fe High School.

Cardona and U.S. Senator Ben Ray Lujan toured the school visiting it’s mental health facilities and suicide prevention programs.

They later sat down with several students away from the cameras to talk about student mental health issues, particularly during the height and the drawing down of the pandemic.

Cardona says such programs are great for the students and the community and more can be done using funding from the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) Fund particularly in rural New Mexico.

"We have to be creative, we have to be innovative. We have to use those funds and think outside the box like they do here in this community to make sure the students needs are being met, whatever they are," he said. "We want to make sure those rural communities feel support and that the Department of Education is supporting them whatever their needs are."   

Through the Office of Student Wellness, Santa Fe Public Schools’ counseling program seeks to improve outcomes and build connections and relationships with students in grades K-12. FPS’ teen health centers at SFHS and Capital High School, operated by Presbyterian Medical Services, provide counseling services and primary health care.

SFHS began implementing its community schools initiative in 2019 with funding from the NM Public Education Department. In addition, SFPS has set aside $20 million in ESSER funds over the next three years for schools to address learning loss and accelerate learning, with SFHS investing in tutoring and credit recovery, class size reduction and other efforts.

“What an honor it was to welcome such esteemed leaders to our campus! Secretary Dr. Cardona and Senator Lujan shined a critical national spotlight on the issues school communities face as they recover from the pandemic," said Superintendent Hilario “Larry” Chavez. “The discussion from today’s roundtable was rich and from the heart. We are encouraged that we are on the right path for uplifting students and meeting their needs,”

Senator Ben Ray Lujan also talked about his own health and his recovery from a stroke he suffered in January.

He says while he’s not fully recovered he is feeling great and has remained active and working on the family farm.                        

Lujan thanked the surgeons and therapists who have helped him in his recovery.