Proud friends and family applauded loudly for the 11-year-old as he received one prestigious award after another Tuesday morning, already proving he will influence the people around him as he aims to make the most of his life.
Among 18 other awards fifth-grader Manuel Archuleta Otero received at Monterrey Elementary School’s promotion ceremony, he was presented with a proclamation by Chaves County Commissioner Robert Corn on behalf of State Rep. Candy Ezzell and the Chaves County DWI Prevention and Awareness Program for an essay he wrote regarding the Chaves County DWI Prevention class held at the Boys & Girls Club and the importance of saying no to drugs and alcohol. The class wholly impacted Otero, his grandmother Cynthia “Nana” Lucero said.
DWI Prevention Specialist Diane Taylor was impressed with Otero’s immediate interest in the class. Not usually inviting in someone so young, Taylor said someone with his drive and potential should not be passed up.
“I was so impacted by his desire to break the circle,” Taylor said. And coming from a family with histories of drug use and a father who has been incarcerated, Otero has a lot to break away from.
But he is a “very smart boy,” his grandmother said, and although he is somewhat quiet, “I think it’s because he is always soaking everything in.”
Otero’s other grandmother Sylvia Archuleta was also at the awards ceremony, and she couldn’t be prouder of her grandson.
“I’m so very proud of this boy, and I know he’s going to do great, and I know he’s going to continue achieving because this little boy has a great head on his shoulders,” Archuleta said. Calling him her “Brainiac,” Archuleta praises Otero’s maturity in handling situations he has been dealt.
In order to break the chain of his family history, Otero really ran with his inspirations after the Chaves County DWI Prevention class. His essay was so powerful and impressive that the DWI Prevention Program sent him to Santa Fe for DWI Prevention Day in February where he was presented to Lt. Gov. John Sanchez, State Sen. Gay Kernan, and State Rep. Candy Ezzell to read his essay. He also spoke in the Senate Chambers as Kernan’s special guest.
In his essay Otero talked about how impacted he was by both a Wings for L.I.F.E. meeting regarding drug use and the DWI Prevention class that included challenging him to complete simple tasks while wearing goggles that make the world look similar to the perspective of one under the influence of alcohol.
“I realized that all your hard work in life could be just thrown away if you started using drugs,” Otero wrote in his essay. “After all I learned, I know that I do not ever want to try drugs or alcohol. Too many bad things can go wrong.”
Having nothing but positive things to say about this young man, Taylor, both grandmothers, his teachers and many other people involved in Otero’s life hope to see him succeed. And according to Taylor, she doesn’t doubt he will.
“He is little in stature, but has a big voice,” she said.