Auburn Eichers

RIO RANCHO – Mark this prediction down somewhere.

Sometime in the future, you may be voting for Auburn Eichers, or she may be a competent attorney and you’re reading about one of her cases in court.

So far, the Rio Rancho Cyber Academy eighth grader is off to a good start: She’s the state’s Civics Bee champion, awaiting the national competition later in the year.

Cyber Academy Principal Julie Arnold’s happy to have this celebrated student – the honor didn’t get much attention, she said – in her 160-student enrollment.

Formerly a Lincoln Middle School student, Auburn said, “Because other schools haven’t been great, I came here to kinda distance (myself) from public schools, and I also came here because I’m in all-star cheer, which takes up a lot of time.”

Courses at Cyber Academy, she said, “are definitely more challenging. Harder math, and maybe it’s just because I’m in advanced math. It’s more complex reading. Lots of poetry, and I don’t understand poetry.

“But this school is definitely a lot more challenging, and I think that’s better for some people.”

Don’t challenge this kid on anything involving the U.S. Constitution, which she carefully studied before April’s regional Civics Bee, held in Rio Rancho, as well as the state bee, held in August on the University of New Mexico campus.

The daughter of Robert and Kaitlyn Eichers, she loves reading and said she studied a ton to prepare.

“My friends were like, ‘What are you reading?’ And I just told them the Constitution, and they were like, ‘What’s that?’

“The Founding Fathers wrote it,” she replied, still not getting through to her friends.

The state and regional tests were similar, and she was well prepared for the state.

“My biggest struggle was definitely with the Supreme Court cases,” she said, “just remembering all the Supreme Court cases. The Bill of Rights wasn’t a problem.”

Auburn said civics is more than just about the Constitution and Bill of Rights; it helps her in other classes, too.

“I like to remember these different things, because I want to use them later in life,” she explained. “In school, when we’re talking about American history, I’m the one ahead because I know all the different … this is how this was founded, how this was founded. Even talking about different Supreme Court cases. And even in science I use this stuff, when talking about different properties.”

Not every eighth grader can look ahead 10 days, much less 10 years, but this one can.

“I definitely want to go to law school. I don’t know how long that will take … but I definitely plan on going to law school, and then representative, senator, governor,” she said.

Kaitlyn Eichers attended the University of New Mexico and planned for a career in law or criminology, “but then this one came along, a ‘special surprise.’

“That caused a change in plans: “I work for the state, but I have a degree in criminology,” which she uses in her current job.

Kaitlyn said her daughter has always been good at conversation and she has a developed vocabulary.

“I spend time doing chores and spending time with my chubby boy, my dog.”

“She’s an avid reader,” Kaitlyn said. “I’ve got videos of her reading at the age of 2 — video books.”

Auburn was named after Auburn University in Alabama — she was almost named Autumn — after a memorable campus visit a few years earlier by Kaitlyn.

Incentive for a few years down the road

Arnold, an educator for about a quarter of a century and a former principal at Mountain View Middle School, laid out a plan for Eichers when she reaches Rio Rancho High School, where she’ll be a freshman next August.

She had some great news for her student.

As a member of the state’s Association of Secondary Principals, she told of the possibility of winning a $10,000 scholarship and a trip to Washington, D.C., “specifically for kids like you who want to go into politics.

“And so, you can only apply for it when you are in 11th and 12th grade,” Arnold continued. “I have moved into the National Association of Secondary School principals, and I am on the board of directors for that, so when you see me missing in November and March and part of the summer, I’m going to board of directors’ meetings in Washington, D.C.

“So, connections are here — I have some people I can talk to to get you places,” Arnold said. “So, I have a plan for your future.”

In that plan, she said, are recommendations for Auburn to run for an elective office at RRHS, where, “You need to strive for those offices … something that is an elected position, because then you can apply for the $10,000 scholarship and the trip to Washington, D.C. It is statewide … and they only choose two winners.

“I am telling you right now, as well-spoken as you are and as much as you know civics, and the fact you won Civics Bee, are all going to ‘pop’ in the interviewers’ minds. I’ve interviewed kids for years for this, so you have an incredibly high chance of being successful in all this.”