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May 4, 2001
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Sandia Labs’ Thunderbird Awards honor 21 local high school seniors for achievement in the face of hardships

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — With their mentors and supporters at their side, 21 graduating seniors from eleven Albuquerque Public Schools (APS), five alternative schools, and five outlying schools — Bernalillo, Rio Rancho, Los Lunas, Belen, and Moriarty — were honored with this year’s Sandia National Laboratories Thunderbird Awards in a luncheon ceremony May 1 at the Sheraton Albuquerque Uptown Hotel.

Sandia National Laboratories and Lockheed Martin Corporation created the Thunderbird Awards in 1994 to recognize and encourage high school seniors in the community who have excelled after overcoming obstacles and adverse circumstances.

These students have had to overcome grief and doubt — surviving the deaths of their parents, their own illnesses, becoming teen parents, addictions, even living on their own — to excel in school and community activities, often helping other students and siblings succeed as they have. They have dreams of Harvard, aviation technology, music education, environmental engineering, pediatric nursing, computer science, biology and genetics, fine arts, drama, anthropology, and even becoming a state police officer.

“It is imperative that the teens in our community receive our support and encouragement now because they stand on the threshold of the future they will shape,” says Sandia’s Mike DeWitte, Senior Manager, Corporate Outreach Department. “Public acknowledgment of their individual successes provides inspiration and a realistic goal for other teens.”

A $1,200 check is included in each award to assist these outstanding young people to continue their upward progress. This financial grant provided by Lockheed Martin and administered by the APS Foundation enables some of these students to pursue additional education. It also serves to encourage other teenagers who might be at risk or involved in activities that interfere with reaching their potential to redirect their lives and reestablish their goals. Recognition is given at the award luncheon to students’ mentors who most helped students turn their lives around.

The schools choose students to receive the awards based on criteria that include graduating in May, overcoming major obstacles or adversities to achieve success, improving grade point average to 2.5 or top 40 percent of class, enhancing the lives of others, and having a plan for the future.

For more information about the program, contact Darlene Leonard, Sandia Community Outreach Department, at 844-8024.

Sandia is a multiprogram laboratory operated by Sandia Corporation, a Lockheed Martin Company, for the United States Department of Energy under contract DE-AC04-94AL85000. With main facilities in Albuquerque, N.M., and Livermore, Calif., Sandia has major research and development responsibilities in national security, energy and environmental technologies, and economic competitiveness.

Media contact:
Janet Carpenter, jacarpe@sandia.gov, (505) 844-7841

Sandia Volunteers Project contact:
Darlene Leonard, daleona@sandia.gov , (505) 844-8024

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