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
Transitioning from a middle school to a high school can be a big milestone for
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
“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
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” insidethe 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
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
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.”
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
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
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.
“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.”
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
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
“If all goes well, my mother will back in the United
States next June ,” 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.”
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
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.”
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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.
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.
we need to put that one minute back into the schedule,” Lopez said. “We’re
still evaluating the situation.”
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.”
students at Pueblo are opposed to this year’s strict tardy policy.
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
junior David Miramontes said, “The tardy policy is an irony—because in the end,
it makes us miss more class than necessary.”