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Lena Archuleta

By Pauline Rivera


Lena Archuleta was born in Union County, N. Mex., but her family moved to Pueblo, Colo. then to Raton, N. Mex. She attended the University of Denver on a scholarship and graduated in 1942 with a major in Spanish and minors in Latin and education. While at DU she was selected to Phi Beta Kappa. Archuleta moved to El Rito, N. Mex., married within the year and taught music and Spanish at Northern New Mexico Normal (K-12 and boarding school) for eight years. Archuleta acquired a Masters degree in library science from DU in 1951 and became the librarian at Kepner Middle School. She later joined Denver Public Schools (DPS) Department of Library Services until 1960. For a year she was president of the Denver Classroom Teachers. Archuleta returned to the DPS Department of School Community Relations and later worked with the DPS Federal Projects (bilingual education) for five years. In 1974 Archuleta became the first Hispana principal at Fairview Elementary. In the spring of 1979, Archuleta was only 59 years old, but chose to retire and spend time with her husband. The pair traveled to Mexico, Europe and enjoyed their time on cruises. Archuleta’s commitment to education is reflective in her achievements and awards. In 2002 DPS named a Montbello school in her honor – Lena Lovato Archuleta Elementary. She is the recipient of the Regis Civis Princeps Community Service Award and the Bernie Valdez Award from LARASA Archuleta is one of the original LARASA founders. In 2002, The Denver Public Library established the Cesar Chavez and Lena Archuleta Hall of Fame Community Service Award given out every spring. Archuleta has volunteered her time to past and present boards and committees such as Hospice of Metro Denver, Community Colleges and Occupational Education, Brother’s Redevelopment, Inc. and Circle of Latina Leadership. She was married to the late Juan Archuleta for 55 years. Receiving dance instruction from Lucille Campa, Spanish and Mexican dance have always been prevalent in Archuleta’s life.

About Hospice of Metro Denver:

Archuleta sits on an advisory committee of the Hospice of Metro Denver along with friend Dora Valdez. Archuleta is supportive of the excellent care provided by Hospice of Metro Denver and recalls the wonderful support received when her own husband was under their care. Archuleta states, “Hospice helps the individual and their family along the journey.” The nonprofit is gearing up for their annual fundraiser scheduled in early April, the Mask Project. For more information, please call 303-321-2828 or visit

High School Experience:

Archuleta was a popular student who recalls a high school with a diverse student body, and recalls the school had a swimming pool. She played piano, participated in theatrics and belonged to the Ballet Español dance group.

Message to Youth:

“Try much harder and excel over and above what is expected of you. Be the head of the class and don’t give up.”

Last Word:

“I’m an overachiever and I don’t give up easily. I’m never satisfied until I’m at the head of the class.”





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