Class of 2023 Freshmen Finding Their Way Through First Semester

by Ismael Angulo & Alina Cuen

Pueblo High School Class Of 2023

Every new school year at Pueblo High School, many freshmen seem to struggle to transition to high school—from being “kings/queens of the hill” in middle school to feeling insignificant as ninth graders in a new environment.

Even though we’re close to the end of the first semester, several freshmen admitted that they were challenged by their first few days at Pueblo back in August—including getting lost finding their classes or being confused about which lunch to take. Now, at the near-end of the first semester, most freshmen have found a routine and admit to enjoying their new school. Truly, they have found their ways…

Kortez Rodriguez, one of the more than nearly 500 freshmen this year at Pueblo, said, “This first quarter wasn’t as confusing as it could have been for me because a lot of upperclassmen helped guide me. Not all upperclassmen hate freshmen!”

Transitioning from a middle school to a high school can be a big milestone for many freshmen.

Freshman Eve Woods feels proud of herself to have earned a perfect GPA for first quarter, but she admits that she had her share of personal challenges.

“It was difficult to put myself out there,” Woods said. “But, in the end, I found that being involved in volleyball really helped me to meet new people.”

Woods suggest that all freshmen should become involved with an activity because it will help them to establish new friends and to help them feel that they are part of a community.

Another freshman, Issac Palomo, said that making new friends has been his biggest struggle.

“I came to Pueblo from Pueblo Gardens, and only friend from that school came with me here,” Palomo said.

“I plan to get involved with sports,” Palomo added, “and this will hopefully help me to make more friends at Pueblo.”

Pueblo counselor Ms. Marian Finley said that freshmen have many opportunities to transition smoothly into high school.

“Freshman Experience is a great program for incoming freshman, and this past summer, we had a record number of participants,” Finley said. “Each student gained high school exposure and one-half credit to start off their freshman year.”

AC Drama Continues At Pueblo

by Isari Martinez & Xylenn Nevarez

Pueblo’s Engineer Robert Fuentes checks the status of AC Unit.

As Pueblo marches well into the second quarter, and November is upon us, the weather is at last cooling off. It seems that for many, summer lasted longer than usual this year. Unfortunately, for many students and teachers, it felt like “summer” inside the classroom as well for much of the first quarter.

During summer break, the air conditioning systems are shut down to save money. However, when several teachers returned to this new school year, they discovered that their classrooms were hot; and they stayed hot sometimes for weeks well into late September.

Marketing teacher Dr. Maria Bicknell, located in the Tech Building, is one of those teachers sweltering in extremely uncomfortable conditions.

“I tried to be positive in this hot classroom, but it was hard to manage at times,” Bicknell said. “There were some days I felt sick when I left Pueblo at the end of the day—like I was going to throw up.”

Bicknell’s neighbor and another Tech Building teacher, English and journalism teacher for the past 28 years at Pueblo, Mr. Rana Medhi, said, “Our administrators and district engineers need to ensure that we teachers and our students are comfortable on the first day of school. There’s no excuse for hot classrooms year after year. Students cannot learn in 92-degree classrooms, and old teachers can’t tolerate the heat anymore.” He paused and added, “It seems to me that we educators should feel confident about returning to a new school year with everything working and having comfortable teaching environments.”

Medhi added that he was fortunate that he had to teach elsewhere for just two weeks; some teachers weren’t so lucky…

Mr. Valentino Martin, Pueblo’s auto shop teacher—and his students—suffered in the heat since from the beginning of the school year. He and his classroom had to be relocated to the Special Projects Room, which was very inconvenient for his curriculum, although students still learned about auto shop safety and other issues until students were finally able to return to T-9 when the air conditioning was repaired.

Then, on Aug. 23, the A/C stopped working again, and Martin and his students were relocated again.

Another Tech Building teacher, photography teacher Ms. Emma Tarazon-Oetting, also had to be relocated to other locations while air conditioning unit was repaired.

Other non-Tech Building classrooms were also excessively hot during the first quarter across campus, and several teachers had to be relocated until the air conditioning was repaired.

Assistant Principal David Montaño said that before students and teachers returned for the new school, all of the air conditioning units were working, but a major thunderstorm just before school started disrupted several of the A/C units.

“Based on the age of some of these A/C units, repairs are bound to be needed,” Montaño said.

However, summer did end at last, which alleviated teachers and students in classrooms that still had inadequate air conditioning.

Many other environments suffered as well. Even though the weight room may boast air, the room is cooled only by a swamp cooler and big fans.

Just the opposite occurred in many classrooms as fall began in late September—classrooms experiencing frigid temperatures.

Junior Sarahi Perez said, “There are some days when the AVID classroom was downright Arctic, and so was [science teacher] Ms. Amaro’s classroom. The AVID classroom is either freezing or hot—it’s never normal in there. It seems that it’s never a healthy environment in which to learn.”

Another student, sophomore Dezarae Valenzuela, said that the Student Council room [Mr. Obregon’s classroom] is very cold. I’d rather it be cold than hot, but sometimes you need a thick blanket to stay warm.”

Junior Angel Leeth said that in her math class, taught by Ms. Rhesa Olsen, she sometimes has to borrow her teacher’s blankets, which she keeps in her classroom.

“It’s very difficult to concentrate in her frigid classroom,” Leeth said. “It’s so cold, I fall asleep.”

The AC system in the main building is controlled and set by TUSD at 76 degrees, but the question remains: Why were the temperatures in some classrooms and the library 59 degrees or colder?

Pueblo has just one engineer, Mr. Robert Fuentes, a 1997 Pueblo graduate, who has been employed for the past 14 years; however, for the past 10 years, he has been the only engineer on site.

He explained that the new equipment to maintain Pueblo’s cooling and heating systems are working with an old 1980’s pneumatic system. In other words, two different systems are trying to work together, often unsuccessfully.

Story from 1995 Pueblo Yearbook on AC Issues

“I like what I do,” Fuentes said, “but it’s frustrating maintaining an entire school by myself most of the time.” He added, “I have to do what I have to do to make classrooms feel comfortable for our students and teachers.”

He paused and added, “This school needs to prioritize repairs on its cooling system.”

Pueblo Student’s Life Inspires Film

Bill De La Rosa

By Mariel Ponce

It’s not every day that a Pueblo High School student is celebrated in a play/film, but that’s exactly what Bill does—recounting the accomplishments and tragedies in the young 25-year-old life of Mr. Bill De La Rosa, a Class of 2012 graduate.

After a run as a play in local theaters, Bill has been made into a feature film and will premiere at the Fox Theater on Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2020.

“The whole thing [my life being turned into a movie] is very humbling, and I originally had no idea that my life was being celebrated publicly,” De La Rosa said.

He added that the film touches on his successes and traumas in life before and since graduating from Pueblo almost eight years ago as his class’ valedictorian—including his numerous scholarships totaling more than $500,000. De La Rosa attended Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine, and Oxford University in England, earning two master’s degrees in criminal justice and immigration studies.

“I wish I could say I was finished with school, but I’m not,” De La Rosa said. He plans to pursue a law degree “back East” next summer, either at Yale University in New Haven, Conn. or Harvard University in Cambridge, Mass.

De La Rosa also shared his tragedies in his young life, including the deportation of his mother to Mexico in 2009 when he was a sophomore at Pueblo. Two years later in 2011, his father suffered a stroke, and De La Rosa was able to see his mother on a “temporary humanitarian parole” status. He saw her again in the summer of 2018 when his father suffered a fatal stroke.

“If all goes well, my mother will back in the United States next June [2020],” De La Rosa said, hoping that immigration lawyers will expedite the process.

For now, De La Rosa said he is staying in Tucson and spending time with his family, including his brother Bobby (a freshman at Pueblo) and his sister Naomi, who is currently a University of Arizona student.

As for the film, Bill, De La Rosa said, “I’m still very humbled that I have inspired a movie about my life.” He paused and added, “I want everybody to know that if I can do it, they can do it.”

New Student Embraces Pueblo Despite ‘Culture Shock’

by Genesis Alba

Dr. Levine & Lorenzo Menor

Since September. 1, Class of 2021 Junior Lorenzo Menor has been adjusting to American life, including a new school, after nearly 16 years of living in his native Philippines, more than 8,000 miles from Tucson.

Despite the educational system at Pueblo High School being very different than the Philippines, he said that he is finding his way around.

“There are so many opportunities here [in Tucson and America], around every corner,” Menor said, “and I just want to take advantage of as many as possible.”

Currently, Menor is earning straight A’s.

“Even though my grades are high, I’m still experiencing culture shock,” he added. “I’m not used to classrooms being so informal. Students and teachers are much more ‘chill’ with one another. In the Philippines, we students were often intimidated by our educators.”

Two years ago, Menor’s father moved from the Philippines and landed a math teaching job at St. John’s Catholic School, and the rest of the family were reunited two months ago.

“Tucson has been great so far,” Menor said. “I’m glad that our family is together at last.”

Menor’s mother is trying to find a permanent teaching job, and she is currently substitute-teaching. He also has a younger sister.

“I’m trying to keep myself busy,” he said. “I’m emotionally recovering from a breakup with my girlfriend. The distance killed our relationship.”

Despite feeling “lost” without her, Menor said that life is “a beautiful gift.”

“We all have our own journeys, and we need to respect them, as well as others,” Menor said.

Recently, he found out that he has been accepted to an apprenticeship at the University of Arizona—related to medical ignorance. Dr. Lolita Levine, Pueblo science teacher, helped him with the paperwork.

“Even though I plan to major in computer science, I’m going to take full advantage of this experience,” Menor said. “I’m going to be making minimum wage [$12/hour] for eight hours each day while learning at the same time. How lucky am I?”

As for the rest of the school year, he hopes to get out of his “slump” and become more social. “I know I need to work on my confidence,” he said. “I need to take advantage of all of the opportunities that are available in this country. I don’t think American [students] know the true meaning of poverty. Go to the Philippines. I’ll show you poverty.”

Health Clinic On Wheels Serves Pueblo Community

By Darian Aldaco and Palmira Henriquez

The Teen Mobile Health Clinic (on wheels!) rolls onto the Pueblo High School campus twice a week, every second and fourth Monday of each month. According to Pueblo’s nurse Ms. Kate Straub, many students have taken advantage of the clinic’s services. Some students have asked questions regarding sex health and hygiene including those related to sexually-transmitted diseases [STD’s] and birth control.

Nurse Straub said, “Students need to know that their visit to this clinic is completely free and very confidential.”

Students who wish to visit the clinic are required to schedule an appointment with Nurse Straub; students will be excused from class.

She added that students do not need their parents’ permission to visit the clinic.

The Teen Mobile Clinic makes its rounds at various other schools, including Project More, TAPP (Teen Age Pregnant Program) and Cholla.

Nurse Straub said, “[Students] having access to this clinic is fantastic, and everybody deserves to have free and confidential help.”

New Tardy, Attendance Policies: Students Taking Things Seriously!

by Elizabeth Olguin and Mariel Ponce

Tardy Line at Pueblo HS

There has been a lot of controversy regarding the new tardy and attendance policy at Pueblo this new school year, but early on, a lot of people have expressed their disapproval.

Thus far, administrators have not lessened the penalty for being late. Tardy lines from primarily during first period, and sometimes this line is excessively long—sometimes as long as 100 feet. Students have to stand in long, hot lines until they reach the attendance counter where they receive “the go” to proceed to their first teachers.

Also, one minute has been shaved from this year’s passing bell schedule. If students are even remotely late to class, they must return to the attendance office for a pass.

“I would prefer students just going to class late and not having to come up here,” said Pueblo’s attendance clerk, Ms. Angelica Aros. “It takes students forever to sign in, and the lines can be very, very long—even now at the end of the first quarter.”

Administration feels that the tardy policy is helpful and gets our students prepared for the real world, but most students think that the tardy lines are unnecessary.

“Our intention is to get our students to realize the importance of being on time,” said Assistant Principal Steven Lopez. He does, however, acknowledge that five minutes may not be sufficient time to get to class.

“Maybe we need to put that one minute back into the schedule,” Lopez said. “We’re still evaluating the situation.”

History teacher Ms. Josephine Rincon said, “We teachers end up being the ‘bad guy’ because we try to get our students to be responsible and to get to class on time. My job description is to grade and plan and to communicate with parents about how their children are doing. This tardy policy turns me into a disciplinarian, and when I have to be the disciplinarian that messes up the pure relationship between student and teacher.”

Most students at Pueblo are opposed to this year’s strict tardy policy.

Junior Marcopolo Moreno said, “It’s a waste of our time! Even if we’re a minute late, we have to stand in line sometimes up to 40 minutes—sometimes the entire period! Traffic is very bad in the mornings, and being late is not our fault sometimes.”

Another junior David Miramontes said, “The tardy policy is an irony—because in the end, it makes us miss more class than necessary.”