El Rito Campus
The El Rito Campus is located at 1190 NM 554, El Rito, NM 87530, and is home to the El Rito Normal School Alumni archives, memorial and orchard.
Alumni Hall is available year-round for community events. The El Rito Water Association is housed in Delgado Hall, and properties on and near campus are offered for rental. Campus grounds and park are open to the public daily from 7am to 10 pm. More information: Hope Vigil at 575.581.4100.
Heritage Art Classes in Rio Grande Style Weaving and Spanish Colonial Woodcarving are now on Northern's Española Campus in the Arts Annex building.
Northern New Mexico College Mill Levy would return trades to our beloved El Rito campus
By Leo Valdez
As a former high school boarder and graduate of the El Rito Normal School back in the mid 1960s, I remember the hustle and bustle of the campus and its surrounding community. I remember all of the trade programs offered at that time, including plumbing, electrical, welding, auto mechanics, carpentry, and others. These programs provided an impetus for jobs and careers for many students throughout New Mexico.
Unfortunately, the trade programs were phased out when the cost to sustain them outpaced Northern New Mexico College’s existing resources. The departure of these programs left a large void in job training and opportunities for my fellow friends, relatives, and community members.
Thankfully, due to the foresight and effort of President Rick Bailey and the help of our legislators, the ability to revitalize the El Rito campus and bring key trades programs back is within our grasp. On November 5, Northern is asking voters to approve a 2 mill levy that would generate $2.4 Million annually to establish and operate trade programs. Plumbing/Pipefitting and Electrical programs, developed in partnership with local unions would enroll students beginning Fall 2020 on the El Rito campus. The Mill Levy would also allow high school students in the Mesa Vista, Española, Chama, Jemez Mountain, and Pojoaque school districts to learn trades, and for all residents of these areas to have free transportation to and from the El Rito and Española campuses.
The reestablishment of these programs is an investment in the futures of our students and community members. The training provided by these programs will not only help high school and college-aged students, but anyone in the community who is unemployed, underemployed, or would like to pursue a new occupation. With the passage of time, there is also a possibility that other programs could be added, based upon regional workforce needs. If anything, we know that these are high demand, high paying jobs that keep our young people and their money in our community.
I am very proud to be a part of this initiative and hope to see Northern’s El Rito campus revitalized, and key trades programs brought back, as part of my legacy. My time at El Rito made a huge impact on my life and education, and has left me with many fond memories. I believe that these next generations deserve to have the opportunity to better themselves, and to contribute to our communities by learning these trades. I hope you will join me this November 5 in supporting Northern New Mexico College’s Mill Levy.
Leo Valdez is a resident of Northern New Mexico, a graduate of the El Rito Normal School, and a member of the Española Chamber of Commerce. He is Senior Vice President of Hutchinson, Shockey, Erley & Co., a public finance firm with offices in Española and across the United States.