West Side kids storm the roundhouse

Isabel Smith and Evelyn Lopez of Painted Sky

A veritable tsunami of energy and vocal enthusiasm  greeted state legislators February 5 as over 500 youngsters from West Side schools attended the  11th annual West Side Day at the Roundhouse.

The event allows elementary-through-high-school students and community leaders  from the West Side to meet with representatives in Santa Fe, to see how the legislature works, and to give the children a taste of democracy in action at the state level.

Isabel Smith, 10, and Evelyn Lopez, 11, both fifth graders at Painted Sky Elementary, were among those chosen by their schools to sit in front of the Senate chamber and be introduced to the members.  “I think it’s fantastic,” said Isabel.

West Side Day, which is honored by a proclamation, is also open to all residents. It is sponsored by the West Central Community Development Group and the South West Alliance of Neighborhoods. Additional support comes from WSCONA and other neighborhood groups, businesses, and individuals.

Activities  included a bus ride to Santa Fe for the kids, a rotunda rally, Roundhouse tours, and civics classes. Lawmakers mingled with the attendees and joined the students for a pizza lunch.

During the opening rally in the rotunda, Dr. Joe Valles announced that his Rio Grande High School class reunion had created a $3,000 scholarship for students at his alma mater who are actively involved in civic activities.  He said he visited the  Capitol as a fourth-grader, and “the memory has never left me.”