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.

Science Wing Reopened For ‘Business’

by Iram Arce

Science Wing

Last school year, chemistry teacher Ms. Melissa Espindola was one of the unfortunate dozen or so teachers to be adversely affected by one of the most devastating vandalism cases in TUSD history; however, she now thrives in a bigger classroom with more materials at her disposal.

Espindola can now be found happily teaching honors chemistry students in Room 166 instead of the library conference room.

“I’m so glad that I got this room full of lab stations and plenty of space for my students to move around,” she said. “It is so much better than that little crammed room where I was not allowed to do any experiments.”

Espindola, along with other science teachers, would not have made it without the support from fellow colleagues and peers.

Ms. Elaine Straub, Pueblo’s forensic science teacher, said, “I cannot describe how delighted I am to be back in my room after it was utterly trashed.”

Last December and January, more than a dozen classrooms were severely vandalized—either through fire or water damage. Most science teachers were relocated for the remainder of the school year—an entire semester.

“Even though there is still some odd ends [that need to be addressed] such as not having my equipment replaced, other science teachers are still affected by the vandalism,” she said.

Teachers such as Espindola and new addition to the Pueblo family, Dr. Brian Engel, do not have water installed in their classrooms, although they remain hopeful that this situation is very temporary.

Despite being ecstatic to be back in her classroom, Espindola is dumbfounded by the thought that the window security barriers have not been installed yet, a project that she said should have been completed by now.

“It will be an embarrassment if my class were to be vandalized again because of this [lack of security barriers],” she said. “It’s like they are waiting for a vandalism to happen again; I don’t know why this issue is not a priority.”

Despite the inconveniences of teachers and students—as well as the sacrifices both groups had to endure—the Pueblo spirit remains fervid and fortified.

Pueblo Takes Action After DACA Repeal

by Laura Conde

On Sept. 5, 2017, President Trump decided to end the DACA program, otherwise known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. DACA allowed many undocumented immigrants to work and live in the US – and his latest decision puts approximately 800,000 immigrants in danger of deportation. This decision caused an uproar all across the country, including at Pueblo.

A day after the DACA decision, Culturally Relevant teachers came together and hosted a DACA- themed workshop to further inform the Pueblo community, offer resources, and potentially make this situation more bearable.

During the workshop, participating students were guided through research activities, along with analyzation and discussion of the actual repeal decision.

The workshop provided a very accepting environment could voice their opinions.

The following quotes are from DACA students who have chosen to remain anonymous.

“It’s great [DACA workshop], it gives people an opportunity to become aware, people may know about it, but not exactly.”

Another student said, “I’m glad we’re having this [DACA workshop], students need to be educated, sometimes adults aren’t even aware of this topic.”

“I think it’s depressing, some of them [dreamers] came here as children, sending them to places they don’t know is cruel,”

“It doesn’t make sense, people come here for opportunities, if they don’t get any, what’s the point?”

“Students need to have a voice, human rights aren’t illegal, they just are.”

DACA will be phased out with an official decision from Congress in six months. As of now, no further DACA applications will be accepted and after Oct. 5, 2017 initial and renewal applications will be disregarded.

Aside from this, numerous resources exist to help the community express themselves and support this struggle.

A few options include, (1) Text “Resist” to 504-09, a “Resist-bot” can formulate your concerns and send a letter to the members of Congress. (2) A direct call to local officials can make an immense difference, Jeff Flake: (520) 575-8633, John McCain: (520) 670-6334, and Raul Grijalva: (520) 622-6788
“I think DACA activities teach students to be aware of their rights,” said Mendibles-Muñoz. “They become advocates and develop a network they can fall back on for support.”

Pueblo Convalesces After Vandalism

  

By Iram Arce and Lya Thurston

During 2016-2017 winter break, Pueblo High School’s Lever Gym, along with 23 classrooms, were broken into and vandalized. Two classrooms were set on fire, and the flooring of Lever Gym was flooded—thus, warping the wood, and currently the flooring is still being removed.

Science Room Vandalism Damage

Because chemicals were spilled during the vandalism, eight classrooms had to be relocated upon students’ return to school on Monday, January 9, 2017, while the haz-mat team quarantined the science wing until the chemicals could be removed.

One science teacher who was relocated, Ms. Wilma Amaro, said, “It’s an unfortunate situation, but we pushed through as one.”

This positive attitude has been very contagious to her students and the entire campus.

Still, the damage remains and is a constant reminder of what still needs to be completed. The damage in Lever Gym is estimated to be in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. Another $50,000 in lab equipment needs to be replaced.

Lever Gym Floor Water Damage

Chemistry teacher Ms. Melissa Espindola, whose classroom was burned, said, “My lesson plans have changed, but I still need to do my job as a teacher. This means I must continue teaching and just accept the reality in order to move forward.”

Biotech teacher Dr. Andrew Lettes knew that they had to get back on track as soon as possible.

He said, “Coming back from break, I was completely devastated. However, that helped me realize that we needed to do a lab [experiment] on Friday, and that is exactly what we did with the help of U of A donations.”

“The compassion of this school is amazing as both students and teachers have helped by donating, some out of their own pockets,” said biotech and forensics science teacher Ms. Elaine Straub. “However, I do believe that the vandal’s actions could have been deterred if the district approved to set up window screens over the winter break as it was originally planned.”

As if this incident was not devastating enough, two weeks after the winter break incident, the vandals struck again—this time two more classrooms were the target, displacing more students and two more science teachers, Ms. Straub and Dr. Lolly Levine.

“Even though this happened to me, we united,” Straub said. “These vandalism cases are senseless, but together we show the hearts of Warriors and show that we can survive.”

Dr. Augustine Romero, Pueblo’s principal since 2014, said, “I’m very proud of how our school has reacted to this incident. I’m just asking that everybody at Pueblo to keep their heads up, keep moving forward and to know that there are a lot of people who care about our [Pueblo] community.”

“Through all of this chaos, Pueblo has stayed together and stayed strong held. In fact, we now have an even stronger bond,” he added.