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.”
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.
“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.
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.
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.”