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NMSU's Domenici Institute working to educate high school students on senator's years of public service

The work, achievements and legacy of retired U.S. Sen. Pete V. Domenici have been captured in a series of three documentaries that will be making their way to high schools around New Mexico, where students can learn about the positive impact the senator has made on the state he represented for decades.


Recently, the Pete V. Domenici Institute for Public Policy, which is housed on the campus of New Mexico State University, issued a call for proposals to develop an instructor's manual that will map out how to incorporate the documentary series into high school curricula across the state.

The winning proposal came from Jennifer Coppolo, a teacher at Las Cruces High School, who plans to make the creation of the instructor's manual a learning experience for her students, as well.

"This project appealed to me because it acts as a telescopic case study on the career of one member in the Senate," she said. "As students study the workings of Congress, they are also able to see just how Congress, through the efforts of their own state members, can affect their own state and community. Senator Domenici's leadership and career achievements in New Mexico will act as a strong lesson to help them understand that one person can make a positive difference in the lives of others."

Coppolo will guide a group of Las Cruces High School students in an advanced placement U.S. government class, as well as students in the school's history club, in producing the instructor's manual. The students and Coppolo will conduct research for more background, locate useful websites to support the documentaries, and suggest ideas and other areas for additional study. The group's final work will include discussion questions, objectives, vocabulary, mini-lessons, activities and quizzes for each of the topics covered in the documentaries.

"It's gratifying to see that these documentaries will serve a greater purpose by educating our students about the issues that are important to this state," Domenici said. "It is our hope that this will inspire young people to work toward finding ways to build a greater future for New Mexico."

The first documentary, "Domenici: This is About Leadership," was released last year and highlighted the achievements of New Mexico's longest-serving U.S. senator, which ranged from his work on the federal budget and energy policy to national defense and nuclear non-proliferation.

The second and third documentaries were completed this summer as a two-disc DVD set, "Domenici: Economic Development & Natural Resources." The set consists of one 40-minute DVD capturing Domenici's work in the area of economic development, with a second 36-minute DVD showcasing his efforts to preserve New Mexico's natural resources. Emmy Award-winning Producer/Director Chris Schueler of Christopher Productions, and Executive Producer, the late Lisa Breeden, produced the DVDs.

"Each DVD preserves decades of New Mexico history and will help students learn about a number of subjects from the growth of different industries in our state to the efforts to preserve New Mexico's wilderness areas and other valuable natural resources," said Garrey Carruthers, dean of NMSU's College of Business and director of the Domenici Institute.

Coppolo and her students already have started working on the project and her goal is to have the instructor's manual completed by the end of the fall semester.

"These students are some of our finest individuals both academically, and also as far as good work ethic and strong character are concerned," she said. "I am honored to be working with them on this project and know that it will be a valuable learning experience for everyone involved."

DVDs of all three documentaries will be available for free to attendees at the 2012 Domenici Public Policy Conference set to take place Sept. 19 and 20 at the Las Cruces Convention Center, 680 E. University Ave. All three documentaries are also available for viewing on the Domenici Institute website at www.domenici.nmsu.edu.