Leadership Sandoval celebrated its 30th graduating class Thursday afternoon.

“It’s really an opportunity for you to learn all the different things that are going on inisde of our communities, whether it’s Rio Rancho, Sandoval County, some of the other communities throughout Sandoval County — Corrales, Bernalillo, Cuba, San Ysidro, Algodones, Placitas — all of these areas throughout Sandoval County that play such a critical role in who we are as a community,” said Mayor Gregg Hull. “It’s amazin, because when you realyy get out there and see all the great things that are goig on and really educate you that when you think something should be done, then you find out something is being done, it’s incredible.”

“This is a great way to get involved in the community, learn leadership skills and give back to the community,” said Shannon Muller, a former chair of the program and 2013 graduate.

“The truth is is that Leadership Sandoval is something that really does create the fabric of community in a way that’s very unique,” said Richard Estrada, also a former chair of the program. “We have leaders that are going to be continuing to lead the community because of that, what I would say is that  a progtram like Leadership Sandoval County is incredibly valuable, not just in what it does, not just the people that you get to meet, but also the impact that you get to leave.”

Jerry Schalow, president and CEO of the Rio Rancho Regional Chamber of Commerce and also M.C. of the event, credited Sandoval County for spearheading the program as its original supporter.

“I think this is a great program,” said Sandoval County Commission Chair Dave Heil. “I’m really interested in some of the projects” the class has been working on.

There were a total of three for this year’s class. Team Squad Sandoval worked on a project at the ASK Academy, installing turf at the entrance and widening it and installing bleachers at the school’s basketball court. That group included David Mann, Josh Hester, Bryan Aragon, Phillip Metzger, Vanessa Aragon, Katja Fitz and Sara Mota. The team originally envisioned shade structures as part of the project, but had to scale back due to cost. They still raised over $13,000 for the project.

The Team Rio Rancho Melting Pot worked on a project with R4 Creating. The group upgraded the STEAM organization’s workspace by painting, installing shelves and putting epoxy down on the floor. The team on this project included Keanu Alaniz, Christopher Taylor, XT James, Anna Casaus, Martha Castillo and Wyndham Kemsley.

The third group, Team Rio Rancho Rebels, took their project to Cuba. There, they installed fencing to separate the preschool and elementary playground at the elementary school, and they landscaped a hill to the playground to make it safer and more accessible, including installing a retaining wall. The team — consisting of Richard Aguilar, Michael Teske, Ryon Bonemeier, Charlie Molinari, Tamara Beall, Terri Lafayette, Kent McCloud and Angelica Lopez — had more tha $5,000 left when the projects were complete. They are using the remaining funds to donate supplies to the preschool classroom.

As the ceremony wrapped, Schalow again thanked and congratulted the graduates: “Each one of those projects will leave a lasting impression on Sandoval County.”

Leadership Sandoval is accepting applications for the 2024 class, which begins in September, through Aug. 31.