By Kevin Wilson: Quay County Sun
Editor’s Note: This is the fourth story in a series about graduates of high schools in Quay County.
With only two graduates from its normal high school, and 14 from its alternative school, there’s no arguing that House High School can be classified as a small school.
But tell recent graduate Joe Ben Snipes that being in the small Quay County school has limited him in any way, and you might be in for an argument.
“I’ve gone to Washington, D.C. twice, Chicago once, Dallas once or twice, Alaska for my senior trip,” Snipes said. “All of those trips are sort of life-changing. It’s something neat for a country ranch boy.”
The self-described country boy is set to take on a military career, with enrollment at New Mexico Military Institute in Roswell.
“I need to do something for my country,” Snipes said, “and I want to put myself in the best situation to help (the country) out.”
On House’s athletic teams, Snipes was often called on for a lot of help. Snipes was the only senior with a school that had eight boys, said House history teacher and basketball/football/track coach Steve Foust.
Foust called Snipes his best player by far and an even better leader.
“We had a very young team,” Foust said. “At times, it was frustrating for him as a captain. He was an outstanding leader. He kept the kids positive, whether it was one-on-one or leading by example.”
Snipes played running back and middle linebacker in football and point guard in basketball, so he always had opportunities to make the big play. The play Snipes remembers the most, though, was a 3-pointer that didn’t matter.
During Snipe’s freshman year, he was sent in for the final seconds of an eventual loss in the Eastern Plains Athletic Conference basketball tournament in Melrose. In his limited time, Snipes managed to steal the ball and hit a last-second shot from halfcourt. Snipes didn’t remember the margin of victory, but said it was “comfortable enough for them to let a ninth-grader shoot a halfcourt shot.”
Snipes couldn’t narrow down his classroom memories to a favorite, but said the small population was a benefit at many points.
“It really helped the learning process,” Snipes said. “Not only did the teachers help you out, but you could always get help from your classmates. You were usually taking the same classes.”
Snipes currently has no particular choice of branch or career in the military, but has been set on his choice for about a year.
Whatever Snipes does choose, his former coach believes he’ll be successful.
“He will blossom in the military, or in anything,” Foust said. “He’s a harder worker, he’s honest. He doesn’t need a lot of instruction to do things.
“House High School has been blessed to have him in our school system.”