College Preparatory Academy: Another Door to Success

by Marcelino Perez & Beatriz Villalba

Dr. Teresa Toro meets with Academy Seniors.

The College Preparatory Academy is a program co-authored by counselor Dr. Teresa Toro and Assistant Principal David Montano to challenge students to enroll in rigorous course work to: (1) apply and potentially be accepted into prestigious colleges and universities; (2) apply and have the opportunity to qualify for full-ride or free tuition scholarships; and be accepted into prestigious colleges and universities; and (3) be academically prepared for colleges and universities.

Once students join this program, they are committed to a four-year plan to keep them on track to graduate with as many AP, Honors, GATE, culturally relevant and dual enrollment credits as possible and to graduate with stellar grade point averages and other scholastic accolades. This program will also give students a better chance of being accepted into Pueblo’s National Honor Society, which always “looks great” on a senior’s resume.

Toro said, “Anyone who is willing to follow the contract’s guidelines and requirements will be allowed to join the academy.” She added that all grade levels are welcome to be part of the Academy but especially encourages freshmen so that they don’t miss out on the beginning foundational experiences.

The Academy was the “brainchild” of Toro and Montano—as she wanted to establish and implement a program to academically challenge those students who are willing to commit to and, inevitably, applying to excellent post-high school colleges and universities.

Toro said, “This program took a long time to create. I started developing the idea in 2008, and the Academy was officially established during the 2019-20 school year.”

She added that Assistant Principal David Montano assisted her with this program, bringing his skills and expertise to the Academy.

“This program has guided 182 students this year, including 65 seniors,” Toro said. “We expect at least 200 students in the Academy next school year.”

Toro explained that joining the Academy offers students more benefits that just potentially being accepted into prestigious colleges and universities in Arizona and beyond. While in high school, students will also earn Pima Community College and University of Arizona dual enrollment offerings, advanced placement (AP) offerings, GATE and Honors offerings, and community service and capstone experience. It is possible to earn 20 AP credits and 15 dual enrollment college credits upon high school graduation.

Toro said, “Being in the Academy can be like a golden ticket into colleges. For examples, the University of Arizona Honors College admissions officer said that when they see that a student has been a member of the College Preparatory Academy, his or her name application will be vetted on the “priority” list of admissions.

She added that even if students in the Academy earn less than a “C” grade, they are not permanently removed from the program; these students will be put on “academic probation”—giving them an opportunity to improve their grades and be reinstated in the Academy.

Toro said, “Students can grade replace or enroll in credit recovery and get off probation by attending one of the CCLC credit recovery boot camps or attend summer school to replace low grades.”

Students must earn C’s or higher to remain eligible in the Academy to benefit from the four-year experience. They must also complete at least 20 hours of community service per semester and fulfill the other requirements of the Academy contract.

Monitors Go Mobile!

by Jose Nagore & Julian Tellez

Nora Monge, Nellie Rivera, Goya Ruiz & Vicky Bellay (L-R) with new security golf cart.

Our Pueblo High School security monitors received a golf car earlier this school year courtesy of the TUSD Pueblo Site Council, which our security team has been requesting for several years.

At one time, PHS had a few of these golf cars. One began to slowly need repairs until it became non-cost effective. Another golf car was stolen.

Security monitor Ms. Nellie Rivera said, “We were able to find a golf car that was discounted by hundreds of dollars, and with the help of Mr. Medhi’s persuasive written proposal regarding the necessities of this vehicle, the Council at last agreed to our request, and we were grateful for their decision.”

According to Pueblo High School security monitor Ms. Vicki Bellay, the golf car was normally priced at more than $4,000 by Golf Cars of Arizona, but a sale price was far less—which was a satisfactorily amount for the Site Council.

Now, the golf car allows monitors to quickly arrive at an emergency and to cover Pueblo’s sprawling campus much more efficiently and extremely quickly.

This battery-operated vehicle’s charge lasts about three days, according to Bellay.

Joanna Medina

“I can’t tell you what a relief it is to have this car,” she added. “We’re hoping that we monitors can have another second vehicle to double the coverage of our security zones—or to have an extra one in reserves.”

Security monitor Ms. Goya Ruiz said, “This golf car has allowed us to arrive at emergencies much quicker—including students who have been injured. It’s been a life saver!”

With a shortage of security monitors this school year, and having easy access to all corners around campus, the golf car has been even more necessary.

Ms. Nora Monge, another security monitor, said, “Having access to the golf car has been a real gift to us. We hope to enjoy it for a long time and continue to use it to help the Pueblo community.”

Another monitor, Ms. Joanna Medina, said, “I was very excited to get the golf car—like getting a new car—and it makes my job easier. Plus, it’s a lot of fun to drive.”

Prom 2022 Returning to ‘Almost Normal’

By Isaiah Sotelo

Yazbel Robles, Class of 2022 President of Prom Committee

Pueblo High School’s “Happily Ever After” themed prom is bringing students back to the routine of having proms again! This year, the Prom Committee has a real treat for Warriors.

The prom will be held on Friday, April 29, from 7-11 p.m., and the event will be located at the Ambassador Event Center. Tickets are now $60 but will increase to $70 in April as the prom date nears.

Student Council students will be hosting and prepping for the prom, and sponsor Mr. Gregory Obregon is very enthused about this event.

“We’re going to try to be as ‘normal’ as possible this year,” he said. As for students’ safety, he added that there will be enough security to make everybody feel comfortable.

Obregon also asks anyone who attends the prom to wear a mask as a safety precaution.

“Based on how things [COVID-19 cases] are right now, we’re going to ask people to wear masks,” said Obregon, “so make sure those dresses and tuxedos match with those masks!”

The venue will be providing drinks and pastries for students—free to everyone who purchased a prom ticket.

Prom Committee president, Yazbel Robles, encourages people to eat before prom.

Robles and a team of about a dozen have been planning the prom since the beginning of the school year. She encourages students to go to prom because it’s an opportunity that students shouldn’t miss.

“We’ve been in a pandemic for so long and most of us haven’t experienced a traditional prom,” said Robles. “We really want to bring this experience back into our school year and make it an event that we all look forward to before graduating.”

Obregon anticipates a larger than usual prom because students haven’t experienced a “real prom” in the last three years due to the pandemic.

“For everyone who is here right now, especially seniors, Pueblo was not able to offer them a ‘real’ prom last year, and there wasn’t a prom at all in 2020.” He paused and added, “Let’s all get back to being almost normal this year—at least, as close to normal since 2019!”

“I’m excited to go to prom because it’s going to be a new experience for me,” said senior Evelyn Parra Rodriguez

She added that she hopes that all the seniors attend prom because it is a time when students will have an opportunity to feel grown-up, get dressed up, have fun, and make life-long memories.

Another student, junior Lucia Pineda, said, “I’m excited to go to prom because I really look forward to dressing up and looking as pretty as possible.”

Junior Sadie Avalos added, “I’m excited to go to prom because it’s our first year back [to prom] since COVID-19 happened, and it’s going to be an unforgettable memory from our high school years.”

“It’s going to be fun and a great time,” confirmed Obregon. “It [prom] is something that that you will always remember and will be one of the highlights of your high school experience.”

Eighty Percent Of Indigenous Women Experience Violence

By Victoria Cazares

Women’s abuse is well-known and documented throughout history. However, until recently, many have ignored the fact that indigenous (Native American) women live their lives at an elevated risk of being murdered and/or facing violence.

Currently, four out of five Native women are plagued by violence, increasing the murder rate 10 times higher than the national average.

“Homicide is the fifth leading cause of death for American Indian and Alaska Native American,” said the CDC.

Indigenous women have historically gone missing, while the government seems to ignore these appalling statistics—and have done very little to address this crisis.

“This issue has grown into a crisis, known as ‘The Epidemic of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women,” said NPR news.

Tribal communities are getting together and creating social media accounts called #MMIW Movement, to inform and educate people what is going on and to try and get the government to do something about these murders and cases of violence.

“#MMIW tweets produced some awareness,” said Carolyn Smith Morris. “The movement is finally drawing much needed attention from the law enforcement.”

This year during Indigenous Day, social media posts relating the (MMIW) movement disappeared. Instagram was deleting their posts, which made people really upset because they were just trying to raise awareness of that issue.

“It’s very suspicious that it was only missing and murdered indigenous women day posts,” said Henderson.” On the day when we are doing the most grieving and the most processing, and this is an incredibly heavy experience for the community.”

A 2017 study by the Urban Indian Health Institute found that Arizona had the third highest number of missing and murdered Indigenous women in the nation. (Thirty-one of those cases happened in Pima County!)

Arizona Governor Doug Ducey decided to join tribal leaders, families, and elected officials to sign the H.B. 2570, Legislation establishing a 21-member committee.

“Today, Arizona says, ‘No More,’” said Ducey. “So many families have been subjected to the grief and pain of losing a loved one who was killed or sadly vanished.”

In 2019, President Trump untilled an executive order to open cases and focus on unsolved crimes involving Indigenous victims, said NPR.

An Indigenous woman Kaysera Stops Pretty, was murdered and found dead in August 2019.

Six law enforcement agencies and the FBI devoted resources to finding her. She was even mentioned on a couple news sources.

“Her case was mentioned 398 times on Fox, 346 times on CNN, and 100 times on MSNBC,” said the Washington post. “This happened in a seven-day period.”

While these cases are getting more media attention, prosecuting the perpetrators of these heinous has barely budged.

Clearly, this issue needs local, state and national attention—as well as action. Abuse of Native Americans (including men) in this country is not only an embarrassment to the United States but an atrocity that needs the support of government and law enforcement at multiple levels.

In Loving Memory Of “Nana”

By Marla Terminel

Pueblo music teacher Mr. Jesus Jacquez (left), 2020 alum and former drum major Alex Leyva (middle) and Ms. Brenda Toltin (aka “Nana”) (right).

A life lived so beautifully, generously, and kindly should be remembered as such…

It is in deepest sorrow to announce the death of the beloved band volunteer, Ms. Brenda Toltin, better known by band students as “Nana”.

Nana passed away at the hospital the morning of New Year’s Day after several weeks of battling infections in multiple systems in her body. She was hospitalized the Wednesday before her death when her body did not respond well to treatment.

“Nana was the whole band,” said Pueblo High School music teacher and band director, Mr. Jesus Jacquez. “She [Nana] has spent countless days and so much of her time with the band.”

He added that Nana consistently spent full school days in the band room and was still present for after school practices and sports games.

Nana volunteered with the band, unpaid, for more than 30 years, longer than any high school band director has ever taught in Tucson.

Color Guard junior Natalie Trujillo said, “I will never forget a time after Nana took some time off class. She greeted me in the band room with the biggest smile ever. She always asked me how I was doing and always told me how amazingly the whole [Color] Guard was doing.”

As much as Nana was a volunteer, she has been a friend to the hundreds of music students who she has worked with.

“I was broken up with once, so I sat next to her and let everything out to her as she listened to and comforted me,” said freshman band member Victoria Borquez. “She was such a sweet and amazing soul, and I will never forget the times that we shared together.”

Sophomore band member Gage Tellez said, “At our first marching competition at Sabino [High School], Nana sat next to me and noticed how stressed I was. She comforted me with her stories about the past. She never accepted ‘no’ for an answer whenever she offered me food or a ride home.”

Despite the untimely bereavement to all current music students at Pueblo, the band will continue to function with a few changes to honor her memory.

Jacquez said that the entire end-of-the-year concert will be dedicated to Nana, featuring some of her favorite music played by the band and choir performances inspired by her favorite TV show, Glee. Two of her favorite songs, “Ex’s and Oh’s” by Elle King and “Happy Together” by The Turtles will now permanently be “stand” tunes to be played at every pep event and sport game. The uniform room will also be named with a plaque in her memory.

“It’s okay to be sad,” said Jacquez. “This was a shock to everyone including myself. Everyone will react to this differently, but we will always be here for each other through this.”

‘Grief & Loss’ Group To Continue In Spring Semester

By Joshua Urbalejo

Mr. Juan Mejia & Mr. Efrain Carrillo

For the past 15 years, social worker Mr. Efrain Carrillo has been helping students with traumatic and emotional issues, and for the fifth year, a “Grief and Loss” group has been helping students cope with overwhelming feelings due to challenging issues.

“Round 2” of the Grief and Loss group will continue into the spring 2022 semester, Carrillo said.

“I look forward to continuing to help students with a whole spectrum of problems,” he said.

Carrillo has a little “help” this school year, as he is working with Mr. Juan Mejia, whose internship will be completed in May—allowing Mejia to earn his master’s degree from Arizona State University (Tucson campus).

“This [Grief and Loss] group is a safe place for people to share their stories and not be judged,” Mejia said.

Mejia added that he hopes to stay in Tucson—maybe even at Pueblo—after earning his degree.

“The Grief and Loss group allows students to express their feelings,” Carrillo said. “I am always there for them—to listen to them, to comfort them and most of all, support them through difficult times.”

Carrillo created this group, feeling the need to fulfill students’ emotional needs.

“What students tell me is very confidential,” Carrillo said, “although I always have to take additional steps when students are suicidal or if abuse is expressed or suspected.”

He wants all Warrior students to remember the Loss and Grief motto: “Comfort, Hope, and Purpose.”

“I want to help students with their sadness and to listen and validate their feeling before they turn into depression,” Carrillo said. “My office is always open, but the group meets regularly on Tuesdays and Thursdays in Room 199.”

Carrillo said that he counsels students in several other groups that meet on campus, including Boys to Men”, LGBTQ students, a girls’ group and “Si Se Puede”.

El Guerrero is committed to featuring these stories this spring.