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.”

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.”

Tardiness Problem At Pueblo

by Ramon Lopez

Tardy Line at Pueblo High School
Tardy line in front of administration building.

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.”

Warriors United For ‘March For Our Lives’

By Iram Arce

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.

Students started by walking in solidarity around the track two times.

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.”

Warriors listened attentively to the speeches prepared by their classmates.

“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.

Students, Faculty Encouraged To Join ‘March For Our Lives’ (Wear Orange)

by Elizabeth Noriega

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.”

Pueblo Warriors & Cholla Chargers Unite For Change

by Laura Conde

Presentations during Pueblo’s Many Faces of Action Conference

On Oct. 3, 2017, Pueblo and Cholla High Schools collaborated for the “Many Faces of Action Conference: A Student Action Forum”, a chance for participating students to learn about their rights, speak up about issues they cared about and overall, feel empowered.

Primarily hosted and meticulously organized by teachers who teach culturally relevant courses at Pueblo (Dr. Raúl Gonzalez, Ms. Victoria Bodanyi, Ms. Tifanny Mendibles-Muñoz and Ms. Jessica Mejia), Pueblo and Cholla students made the most out of this educational experience. According to organizers, this event was “a collaboration of many fascinating and intelligent individuals.”

Social studies teacher Ms. Victoria Bodanyi said, “The conference went really smoothly. Besides our own nearly100 Pueblo students, we hosted more than 50 Cholla students. We were also able to have presenters from TUSD, local organizations, professors from the University of Arizona and our very own Pueblo teachers.”

Additionally, two science teachers (Dr. Andrew Lettes and Ms. Elizabeth Raizk) held workshops to educate students about Valley Fever and environmental racism, respectively.

The conference lasted for an entire standard school day—8 a.m. until 3:15 p.m. Early on, participating students were welcomed accordingly and later divided into three groups (pink, yellow and green) that would direct them to different workshops around campus.

Many Pueblo students left the conference with a deeper comprehension of political and social issues that affect them in their lives.

“I learned that there are many ways for the community to come together for a problem everyone has but doesn’t see,” said Liam Membrila, a senior.

Cholla students were invited to come

“I feel more confident in ways I could get involved because I’ve wanted to help with the issues going on but I was confused and now I feel a lot more prepared,” said Jacquelyne Acuña, a junior.

“A lot of ‘DACA’ students are struggling, and we need more support and people to be aware. I see how I am more fortunate, and I’d like to give more people that opportunity,” said Gerardo Arzabe, a senior.

On behalf of Pueblo High School, a special thanks to the following people and organizations: Mr. Frank Armenta, Ms. Dominique Calza, Mr. Salo Escamilla, Ms. Maria Federico-Bummer, Mr. Richard Gastelum, Mr. Maurice H. Goldan, Ms. Sarita Gonzales, Mr. Enrique Garcia, Dr. Andrew Lettes Ms. Elizabeth Raizk, Dra. Andrea Romero, Dr. Augustine Romero, Mr. Bryant Valenica, Calpulli Teoxicalli, Cholla High School, LUCHA, LUPE, Tierra y Libertad Organization.