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University of Iowa News Release

Jan. 11, 2005

New Las Vegas Elementary School Named For UI Education Alumna

A new elementary school slated to open in Las Vegas later this year will bear the name of a Des Moines native and University of Iowa education alumna.

The Aldeane Comito Ries Elementary School will open its doors to students next fall, named for a former teacher and principal of Nevada's largest high school (with nearly 4,000 students).

"To say that I am humbled would be an understatement," said Ries (B.A. elementary education, 1962). "I still become all teary-eyed when I think about it."

Although she is retired, Ries remains active in education as a mentor to new principals and a member of the Governor's Commission for Professional Licensing in Nevada.

Ries said she asked officials to include her maiden name, Comito, in the school name in honor of her parents, both of whom are deceased. Her father Al Comito was basketball coach for many years at Roosevelt High School in Des Moines. Roosevelt's gym is named for him, and he is included in the Iowa Coaches Hall of Fame.

"It is truly difficult to come up with a statement that describes how I feel about this honor, because throughout my career, I never felt that what I was doing was about me," Ries says. "It was only about kids and doing things for the right reasons."

Ries said she's an Iowan through and through. After graduating from Roosevelt High School, she knew she wanted to attend the UI and went on to earn an undergraduate degree in elementary education, with a minor in Italian. She subsequently earned a master's degree in elementary education and is certified in counseling, administration, secondary education and vocational education.

"I had way too much fun at the UI," Ries said. "I was in Kappa Alpha Theta and thought my role in life was to have a great time. I went to the Rose Bowl as a freshman on the train with 350 other people and thought I had died and gone to heaven when we arrived in California."

After graduating from the UI, Ries said she moved out to Las Vegas "on a lark," following in the footsteps of a sorority sister who was engaged to a man stationed at Nellis Air Force Base. She fell in love with the city and stayed.

Ries initially taught elementary school but later held positions as a dean of students, a recruiter for a vocational school, an assistant principal and then a high school principal. Wherever she went and whatever she did, she always carried Iowa with her.

"In 1994 I became the first woman to open a brand new high school in our district," she said. "As it was brand new, we created everything from the jump, with the exception of the school name, which was Silverado. We became the Silverado Skyhawks and our logo is the Tiger Hawk."

She said she had an artist alter the logo enough to avoid copyright infringement of the UI's Hawkeye logo.

"But in reality the change is so subtle one could not tell the difference," she said. "On the football stadium press box it says 'Go Hawks' with a giant Tiger Hawk."

When the school opened, it had 1,100 students. Six years later enrollment had grown to nearly 4,000, making it the largest high school in the state.

The Aldeane Comito Ries Elementary School dedication is slated for spring 2006.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 371, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500.

MEDIA CONTACT: Media: Stephen Pradarelli, 319-384-0007, stephen-pradarelli@uiowa.edu.