Tardiness has historically been a big problem in our school, but we are improving on this situation despite long tardy lines. During the first week in December, there were 1,014 tardies reported in the attendance office. The next week, the number of tardies plummeted to 769 tardies, and more than 90% of these tardies were during the first period.
Pueblo’s faculty has addressed this problem and working hard to help decrease students’ tardies. As of mid-December, Behavior Interventionists have completed 258 interventions, 236 student conferences, 20 parent conferences, and two lunch restorations.
Ms. Angelica Aros, one of Pueblo’s attendance clerks said, “Yes, I believe Pueblo can make a change. These lines are not the solution. Students need to value their time at school more.”
Mr. Steve Lopez, assistance principal, affirmed that after students are tardy six times, parents will be called. If tardies persist, Lopez added that home they will be required to attend “Saturday School”.
Bryan Ramirez, a junior, said “I’ve had to go to lunch detention and it truly does help me get back on my feet and realize what am doing is wrong.”
Tardiness begins in the morning right after the first bell, at 8 a.m. 1st Period, and within 15 minutes, the tardy line serpentines from the attendance office to the outside—consisting sometimes as many as a hundred students. Some students express their frustration because they were just seconds late—and still not allowed in class. By the time they receive their tardy slip and go to class, students will have missed half—or more—of their class.
“The whole tardy policy is just a mess,” said student Ramirez. “Administration needs to come up with a more effective way to deal with students’ tardies. Being in long lines is not a solution—it’s just a band-aid to a big problem. I believe that students and teachers should come up with more innovative ways to deal with our tardies. I suppose that students themselves need to fix the tardy problem by just showing up to school on time.”
Administration said that they will continue to make improvements in the tardy policy. “So far, the tardiness problem has improved,” said Assistant Principal Steve Lopez. “We could always do better, however, and we’ll continue to make improvements as the discussion continues.”
On Wednesday, March 14, thousands of high schools across the United States participated in a “March For Our Lives” event to pay homage to the 17 shooting victims at Marjorie Stoneman-Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. on Feb. 14—as well as to express their strong opinions about a lack of stricter gun laws.
More than a thousand Warriors and many teachers and staff members participated in its own march at approximately 12:45 p.m. after the radio broadcast during sixth period.
Participants marched from their classrooms to the football field for approximately 17 minutes, one minute for each of the victims in Florida. Students then were directed to the bleachers to listen to students’ speeches.
First, Dr. Augustine Romero voiced his support for students’ opinions.
Twelve students spoke afterwards—each of them conveying their concerns regarding school safety and regulating the Second Amendment, either in short two or three-minute speeches or in the form of poems.
One of the dozen speakers, senior Brianna Metzler, said, “Because of my anxiety issues, giving this speech was a true testament to needing to express my voice. I took a chance [to publicly speak] and do not regret the words that I shared with nearly a thousand students. I’m proud of myself, and I really hope that I was heard.”
“I was shocked at how many students participated,” said senior Jorge Becerril, who was one of a few students instrumental in organizing this event. “I was equally impressed by the quality of the speeches from students who were very committed to expressing their voice about gun violence at our schools across the country.”
Another senior who co-organized this event, senior Liam Membrila, said, “I have always seen and felt the hunger for myself and my generation to be heard. I really want to show our representatives our reality—seeing the swarm of Pueblo students and faculty marching and chanting, ‘The people united shall never be divided!’ This inspired me to be even louder.”
Membrila added, “The greatest frustration, however, was a constant tug-of-war with the district about allowing local media on campus. It’s not as if our march were something disrespectful or about something illegal. We [students] were speaking about our safety. My generation will be the change.”
“Last minute changes were very frustrating,” Becerril said. “I was disappointed that our administrators did not allow Channel 4 [KVOA] on campus, but I suppose that they had their directives from the district office. It’s not like we were trying to riot or speak about something not legal. We students definitely had a mission and a purpose, and our diligence to have common sense gun laws hopefully lasts until there is change. I would think that our administrators would want the Pueblo community to have media coverage because what we students did was very positive.”
Student body president Kanani Salazar, a senior, was one of the two emcees at the event, introducing each speaker.
“The march was extremely organized,” Salazar said. “We heard many different voices that are seldom heard. I hope this isn’t the last of these marches because students need to be heard. Young people across the nation are the future of this country, and we will make positive changes, including common sense Second Amendment laws.”
Another emcee, senior Cynthia Amarillas, said, “I am very proud of the Pueblo community for uniting for a very valid cause. We will be the generation that changes gun laws in America. We all must register to vote so that our voices are heard. We will not abandon this movement. Enough is enough!”
Seniors Darlene Padilla and Bea Nevarez set up a table for 18-year-olds to register to vote, and many seniors took advantage of this opportunity.
Andrea Cuevas, a senior, and one of the hundreds of participants in the march, said, “Voting is essential to change this country’s policies. Young people—especially Hispanics—need to vote. This generation is creating this country’s future. If we don’t vote, then we become merely bystanders.”
TUSD School Board member Ms. Adelita Grijalva (and a former Pueblo graduate—from the Class of 1989) voiced how proud she was of Warriors’ spirit and their commitment to making positive changes.
At approximately 2 p.m., the march was officially over, and students returned to their classes feeling confident that they had made a difference in their community.
“Overall, Pueblo High School’s first march to pay homage to Florida’s shooting victims was undoubtedly very successful,” said Cynthia Amarillas. “Hopefully this march also showed administration that students are capable of organizing and implementing events that make a positive difference.”
Aerial Photos: Andrew Romero, a junior, under the supervision of teacher Mr. Ernesto Somoza.
To honor the 17 slain students and faculty members at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, on Feb. 14, Pueblo’s “March For Our Lives” encourages all students and faculty members to participate on Wednesday, March 14—exactly a month after the tragedy. Hundreds of schools across the nation will be participating in their own marches on this date.
Senior Jorge Becerril was one of the architects of this movement.
“This country desperately needs common sense gun control,” Becerril said. “We students—and the teachers, too—shouldn’t have to worry about our safety at school. We are here to learn.”
Students and teachers—as well as everybody in the Pueblo community—are encouraged to participate in the solidarity movement after the radio broadcast in 6th period.
Participants are encouraged to wear orange, the color that has come to represent the anti-gun violence movement.
There will be an announcement over the intercom instructing Pueblo to begin their 17-minute march (one minute for every lost life in Florida) to the football field—much like a fire drill procedure. Once on the football field, students will continue walking around the track until the 17 minutes has lapsed. Then, everybody will sit in the bleachers and observe a minute of silence.
The two masters of ceremony, seniors Kanani Salazar (student council president) and Cynthia Amarillas (student council representative) will introduce student speakers. These speeches will last from one to three minutes. TUSD School Board member Ms. Adelita Grijalva is expected to be a speaker.
Becerril added, “There have been plenty of school shootings since I was a freshman, but for some reason, this shooting really affected me—maybe because there was so much press of this event in the aftermath of the tragedy. I’ve been inspired by many of the survivors of the Florida shooting who are adamant about getting their legislators to pass laws to make high school campuses safer.”
Becerril explained that this event is not about eradicating the Second Amendment (the right to bear arms), but rather making our society and our schools safer with common sense legislation that may ensure a safer country.
“This march is not an excuse for students to ditch or to skip their sixth period classes,” Becerril said. “We want our school to portray a mature message about this topic. This is also a great opportunity for students to voice their opinions. This topic is also a great opportunity for teachers to have meaningful dialogues and discussions in their classrooms.”
New this school year to the administrative family at Pueblo High School is former English teacher Ms. Kathryn Gunnels, who officially begins as assistant principal with a long list of responsibilities, including the planning of meetings for teachers (Professional Learning Communities), supervising advanced learning opportunities, finalizing the master schedule and organizing student-testing events.
She also communicates to staff via a weekly update on teachers’ computer work stations.
“This is the hardest job I’ve ever had,” Gunnels said, “but I also love it—not only to help students but also to support Pueblo’s great teaching staff.”
Gunnels, who taught English for 10 years at Pueblo (in two separate time periods), actually fulfilled her student-teaching assignment under the supervision of Mr. Manny Galvan, who retired a few years ago (but occasionally substitute-teaches) and Ms. Marci Bowman, who also retired from teaching.
“I knew then [while student-teaching] that Pueblo was a special place,” Gunnels said. “I may have left Pueblo for a few years [to pursue other positions], but I’m definitely back, and it feels like a second home.”
She revealed that education was not her first career choice. Gunnels said that she majored in business, but after mentoring at the Arizona School for the Deaf and Blind, she was inspired to become an educator.
And, as far as being the fourth employee with the surname “Gunnels” to be employed at Pueblo High School, Assistant Principal Gunnels said, “We have a rule at our house at the dinner table. My husband, two sons and I are not allowed to talk about school.”
Husband Mr. Michael Gunnels is a communications media tech teacher; son Jeren is a transition school-to-work instructional specialist; and other son, Derek, is an exceptional education teacher.
“I’m here [as an assistant principal] especially for our students,” Gunnels said. “I want students to know that when they make mistakes or face monumental obstacles, it’s not the end of the world. I want to help them realize that there is a light at the end of the tunnel. I want to help them find solutions to their problems.”
She added, “I want our students at Pueblo to know that they can do anything with their lives—they have the potential to achieve greatness.”
After nearly 30 years of diligence and dedication to Pueblo High School, math teacher and ex-wrestling coach Mr. Steve Lopez joined the Valencia Middle School staff as an assistant principal.
Lopez’ love of teaching and education is due to the persuasive words of Mr. Richard Gastelum, who was Pueblo’s principal during this time. Gastelum also managed an ice cream shop where Lopez enjoyed his first after school job. Lopez heeded the advice from Gastelum—to pursue education as a career. After graduating from the University of Arizona, Lopez began his teaching career at Pueblo—and Gastelum was still principal. Both Lopez and Gastelum have remained “lifelong friends”.
Not only has Lopez taught math to several thousand students over the years, he also coached our wrestling team to many victorious seasons, which included a State champion team in 2008. (His son, Brandon Lopez, a senior at the time, was on this team.)
Mr. Manny Galvan, former English teacher and current permanent substitute-teacher, was Mr. Lopez’ assistant coach from 1993 until 2016, when Coach Lopez decided to resign and pass the torch on to Mr. Paul Vasquez (who attended Pueblo and was a wrestling State champion in 2004 and 2005).
“Mr. Lopez has worked very hard to become an assistant principal. I see this move as a first step in returning to Pueblo as a future administrator. Working with him as an assistant coach was a pleasure. He got his wrestlers to perform at their utmost potential.”
Vasquez said, “Coach Lopez is truly an awesome person and a great advocate for Pueblo High School. I just want to say to him ‘Thank you, Mr. Lopez, for all of the help that you have given me—even in college. I would get out of work at 9 at night, and you would still find time to tutor me regarding my college math courses—for free!’”
Lopez loves teaching, but he said that he would like to continue making a difference in his community. This is why he has decided to take the job as assistant principal at Valencia Middle School.
“I see myself working for another ten years and really make a difference in the lives of students and to enhance their quality of education,” said Lopez.
He does admit that teaching students has not been easy—especially the ones who don’t feel like learning.
“[This job has been] all worth it,” Lopez said.
He added, “Kids can sometimes resist us [teachers] to the death, but I like the challenge of making them say ‘I want to learn.’”
Lopez advises new teachers to be tenacious about this profession: “You [teachers are] probably never going to be rich, but teach because you love it.”
He admitted that leaving is not going to be easy for him, and confesses that he will really miss “everything” about Pueblo—specifically, students and staff.
“Pueblo is home. Pueblo is where I feel like I definitely belong, where I feel like I mattered,” Lopez said.
Many staff members expressed their goodbyes and wishes words for Mr. Lopez.
Ms. Jessica Bernal-Mejia, history teacher, said, “Steve [Lopez] was like my Pueblo tio, always picking on me, but I knew he had my back. I’m going to miss him, but I know that he is going to be a great principal.”
Principal Dr. Augustine Romero said, “We’re going to miss Mr. Lopez very much. He has been a huge inspiration to many, many students. At the same time, we’re very proud and happy for him regarding this opportunity to become an assistant principal.”
One of Lopez’ math colleagues, Ms. Paulette Livio, said, “I’m very excited that Mr. Lopez finally got the chance to become an administrator [at Valencia Middle School], but we’re very sad to lose him.”
Math teacher Mr. Billy Campbell said, “Mr. Lopez has been a mentor to me. He’s helped me to grow as a math teacher. I’ve learned from him what it truly means to be a teacher and a leader.” He paused and added, “Mr. Lopez is the kind of man who walks-the-walk and doesn’t just talk. When I occasionally feel down about myself, I tell myself, ‘I need to put my Steve [Lopez] hat on.’”Probably the person who will miss Mr. Lopez the most in the math department is his close friend and colleague, Ms. Martha Avila-Miranda. “I wish him [Lopez] all of the wisdom in his new position [as assistant principal]. It’s going to be really difficult getting used to not seeing him—he’s been here for nearly 30 years. However, he’s just a phone call away.”
Assistant Principal Frank Rosthenhausler at Pueblo High School announced that the amount of physical altercations this year has stayed “relatively the same as last year and the year before that.”
At the beginning of this school year, last August, the disciplinary action for fights changed from just having a three-day suspension. After November, this TUSD policy changed to having a “Big F”, which is a code to indicate the severity of a fight, which usually results in a student being suspended for three days. A “Little F” is a code that results in a three-day in-school suspension, usually requiring a student to spend those days with Mr. Mario Reyes, Pueblo’s ATS (Alternative To Suspension) teacher.
However, if there are any threats on Facebook, and this becomes public on school campus, this offense will have to be counted as a school threat, resulting in more severe consequences, Rosthenhausler said.
According to Rosthenhausler, there were approximately 17 total fights this school year.
He said that freshmen continue to cause the most drama on campus, and they make up the majority of physical altercations at Pueblo. Rosthenhausler said that the primary excuse for most fights was girls fighting over boys.
“The old cliché of ‘girls getting cheated on and wanting to fight the other girls’ is very common,” he said.
Rosthenhausler added, “Kids who don’t have issues resolved during their elementary and middle school years often bring those unresolved issues with them to high school.”
“When I first got to Pueblo, about five years ago, , I didn’t think there would be a lot of violence, but that quickly changed. These disciplinary problems are sometimes overwhelming.”
According to Mr. Mario Reyes, there are ways that Pueblo can reduce the number of altercations.
“With the restorative practice—which is detecting an issue before the situation gets out of hand—and finding quick ways to resolve these issues, we can minimize the number of altercations,” Reyes said. “We can also increase awareness of tensions and have more respect for one another, which would really help to ease tensions.”