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.”
On Nov. 2, Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) came alive at Pueblo High School—with several artistic and vibrant displays around campus.
One of the most dramatic and spectacular was the one in front of the library; it was difficult to miss because of this display’s vibrant colors and elaborate and meticulous craft.
Ms. Marsha-Jean Burrola, Pueblo’s librarian, began back in September setting up this display—with some help from the Pueblo community.
“To prepare for this display, we used a CCLC [21st Century Community Learning Centers] program called ‘Maker-Con’ to help us set up for this event,” Burrola said.
She added that she had a lot of help from staff and students.
Burrola would like to thank the following for their artistic contributions:
Ms. Patsy Soto and Ms. Armida Martinez, both CCLC employees, helped Burrola with this display. A few students also added their creative touches: freshman Mariana Martinez, senior Vianney Fimbres and senior Esme Rodriguez.
Día de los Muertos is a two-day festival that takes place every Nov. 1 and 2. Although most strongly identified with Mexico, Día de los Muertos is celebrated throughout Latin America and everywhere with a Latino population, including many Southwestern American cities—including Los Angeles, San Diego and here in Tucson.
This event honors the dead with festivals and lively celebrations—a typically Latin American custom that combines indigenous Aztec rituals with Catholicism, brought to the region by Spanish conquistadores hundreds of years ago.
This year, Dia de los Muertos was even more eventful due to the number of COVID-19 related deaths, affecting the Pueblo community with great devastation.
“Many students and members of our Pueblo community have lost relatives and loved ones in the past 18 months,” Burrola said. “Honoring those who have passed during this time [Dia de los Muertos] has been especially heartfelt.”
On the morning of the eve of Veterans Day, November 10, 2016, Ms. Marie Little’s Automotive SkillsUSA Club members, along with the Pride of Pueblo (band) and our cheerleading team performed a flag-raising ceremony to honor those who serve and have served our country.
Specifically, the following were honored: our Davis-Monthan airmen currently serving here in Tucson, and all of the veterans in our community. This event also paid homage to the Marine Corps’ 241st birthday.
Later that day, just before the end of seventh period, Ms. Marie Little’s Auto Club retired Pueblo’s flag back to her auto classroom. The old American flag will be placed into a box and attached will be the names of former auto students currently serving in the military.
Then, on Monday, Nov. 14, before first period, the new flags (U.S., Arizona and P.O.W.) were raised by students in the Pueblo Auto Club.
Little said, “After a few years of wear and tear, the flags desperately needed to be replaced to keep Pueblo to the highest standards of respect and dignity.” She paused and added, “I’m very proud of my students taking charge and conducting themselves with genuine care and the utmost respect for the people who were honoring.”
One of the students involved in this patriotic ritual, senior Gabriel Palomino, said, “It’s an honor to be part of the flag’s retirement, especially after knowing that it had been flying over Pueblo’s grounds for a long time. The flag means more than a piece of cloth to me; it represents our country and all of its glory, its struggles, triumphs and perseverance.”
On Oct. 10, Pueblo’s boys and girls basketball hosted the first annual Burney Starks Alumni Game. Along with Assistant Principal Frank Rosthenhausler, former coaches and athletes participated against current athletes.
Starks passed shortly after the end of the last school year, and as a Warrior who graduated in 1968, he always strived to make things better, and it was always a dream of Starks for alumni to play against current players.
“We thought we’d pay homage to Starks,” Rosthenhausler said, “and we organized this game to bridge the gap between the alumni and current students.”
There were about 20 alumni players at the game, and they played our current boys’ basketball team during the first half and played against our current girls’ basketball team during the second half.
Senior Danielle Orozco said, “The game was fun because it was something that I’ve never really done before. Plus, it was a really touching thing to do for Burney.”
Rosthenhausler said this was a great event, and he’s happy to see future, current, and alumni faces all enjoying the same activity.
On Thursday, Nov. 20, Pueblo Magnet High School’s very own MEChA Club demonstrated their support and respect to the 43 students who vanished on Sept. 26 in Guerrero, Mexico.
The 43 students were on their way to protest the lack of funding in their school when they were stopped by policemen and were said to be taken. Their whereabouts are still unknown, and the investigation on these students has been on going ever since.
Pueblo’s MEChA students decided to participate and take a stand in these demonstrations to inform the Pueblo community of the situation happening in Mexico.
Damaris Ponce, a member of MEChA, said, “A lot of people didn’t know about what was happening in Mexico and we wanted them to know that we cared and to show Mexico that we are supporting their cause.”
Yajaira Ceballos, MEChA. Co-chair said, “It hurts me to see what they’re going through, someone shouldn’t be punished for wanting to make a difference. We want them to see that we care and that we want to help them make a difference.”
The displays included 43 ribbons, posters hung on teachers’ doors, and 43 chairs laid out in the patio with the pictures of the students.
“The pictures and displays were a way to humanize the students and to show that this could have happened to anybody fighting for their rights,” said teacher and MEChA. Co-counselor Jessica Mejia.
Demonstrations were not just held at Pueblo but globally, including support from countries such as Argentina. The demonstrations were purposely held on Nov. 20 because it is the same day of the Mexican Revolution. (The Mexican Revolution brought the overthrow of dictator José de la Cruz Porfirio Díaz Mori after 35 years of rule. In 1920 General Álvaro Obregón became the new president.)
“This event has been a lot like starting a new revolution for Mexico and putting pressure on the Mexican government to change and take back their country,” said Mejia.
Although MEChA and other protesters around the world brought attention to this situation in Mexico, the support towards this cause and the search for the students does not end here.
“This is a continuing issue and the people protesting are not going to rest until the 43 students are found and their family receives some closure,” said teacher and MEChA Co-counselor Mr. Jesus Orduño.
MEChA encourages the Pueblo community to follow along with the story in Mexico and to continue showing their support for the families.
“MEChA is about seeking social justice and we have a lot more in store for this year. We meet every Friday, and our door is always open to new members,” said Orduño.
The Pueblo Community lost a dear friend and colleague, Mrs. Martha Arellano-Gutierrez, on April 18. Martha devoted 17 years at Pueblo, beginning as a receptionist and then becoming a staff assistant and an attendance clerk. She also volunteered much of her time with Pueblo’s after school activities.
Pueblo teachers and staff members remember Martha fondly and with great affection.
I am so sad to hear the news about Martha. She was so wonderful and funny. I will always treasure our discussions on caffeine and “cat reactions”. (Dr. Andrew Lettes)
Every morning, one of the first people I would see would be Martha. She always greeted me warmly with a big smile on her face. (Ms. Crystal Reedy)
Martha always said hi and asked how you were and listened and responded to the answer. I miss her smile. So so sad. (Ms. Sally Rusk)
I met Martha Arellano my first day as a Pueblo teacher. From day one, she was always very professional… and very nice! She was never too busy to help me. She also had a great sense of humor. I felt shocked and sad, and my heart goes out to her family. (Mr. Don Robertson)
Martha was always a bright spot in my life; I loved her friendship, her humor, her kindness. You will remain forever wonderful in my heart, Martha. (Ms. Maria Bicknell)
I will always remember Martha’s smile and warm greeting whenever I saw her. (Ms. Theresa Ellis)
I will always miss her “Good mornings!” (Mr. Virgil Henderson)
I will miss her friendly smile, and I am very grateful to her for keeping an eye on my kids when they were attending PHS. They always had someone else to go to when they had questions or concerns. She showed them that she cared. She supported YES Club activities and gave up her lunch hour to help clean up the campus, and she did it with motherly coaxing and a smile. My family will miss her dearly. (Ms. Martha Avila-Miranda, M.Ed)
Martha always laughed at my jokes! (Ms. Sal Vitale)
I first met Martha when I started here at Pueblo in 2009. My first office was in the attendance office, and I got to know her fairly well. She always called me Alonzo, and it took her about two months to get used to calling me Lorenzo. She (along with many of the attendance and office staff) was instrumental in helping me to get settled and situated here at Pueblo. She was a proud mom and an even prouder Nana. I know she will be missed greatly by the Pueblo family. Rest well, my friend. (Mr. Lorenzo Chavez, former GEAR UP College Coach & TRiO Coordinator)
Martha had a special way with people. She knew everyone who came through that door, greeted all of them and made them feel special. I will miss her. (Ms. Marina Ordoñez)
I will forever cherish the times we spent together working the gate at the football games. I will miss her laugh and hugs. I will miss you, buddy. (Mr. Mario Matanza)
In 1997, when Martha was the receptionist at the counseling office, my office as the parent and student liaison was over there. One day, I came to work very upset because a dog I was taking care of destroyed something that was very dear and precious to me. She got me to stop crying, but every time someone walked into my office they would ask what was wrong because it was obvious I had been crying, and I would just start crying all over again. So, Martha made four signs and posted them outside of my office where everyone coming in would see. They read : “ PLEASE DO NOT ASK EVELIA WHAT IS WRONG!” It worked! I will miss you, Martha, and always remember all of the laughs we had together. (Ms. Evelia Lopez)
I remember how Martha was always joking around and making fun of me and saying, “Cris! Que paso?” Her smile was always there… (Ms. Cristina Parsons)
Martha was full of life, and when she greeted me with a lilt in her voice, it made me smile and made my day that much better. One couldn’t help but like Martha and enjoy her company. I will always remember her as “a salt of the earth” type of person who was taken from us much too early. My tears flow as I write this, realizing that Martha is gone. (Mr. Saúl Ostroff)
I can remember going by Martha’s desk on a daily basis and saying “Wie geht’s” (“How are you?” in German), and after a while, I taught her to say “Sehr gut” (“Very good”), and she would always smile afterwards. (Respectfully, Mr. Pete Pederson)
Whenever I was stressed—really, really stressed, especially during newspaper layout session—I’d go to the attendance office, knowing that Martha gave the best massages in the world. I always felt rejuvenated afterwards! I used to joke around with her—that I’d marry her if she gave me a massage every day—that I would do all of the cooking and yard work if she would just massage me! I loved laughing with her. (Mr. Rana Medhi)
I am sorry to hear about the passing of one of our dear coworkers. Martha always had a helpful disposition and a smile on her face. She will be missed. (Ms. Alma R. Wilson)
Martha was helpful to me and my family. I often went out of my way to go see her in the office, especially in the summer when we weren’t busy. Martha’s kind heart and easy going manner always brightened up my day. I will miss her dearly. (Mr. Cristobal Santa Cruz)
Well, I met Marta in 1997 when I started as a counselor here at Pueblo. She was the receptionist in the counseling center. She knew everything that was going on and kept us in line—he he! She had a great heart and would always come to see me to let me know about any students who needed my help. Her daughter, Marlene, is the same age as my oldest daughter, and we talked often about our girls. She never forgot to ask me how my daughter Erin was through the years. I will miss her! (Ms. Debra Thompson)
Martha, I’ll remember our walks at the Santa Cruz, Zumba, and Fry’s Chicken. You were always greeting all that came to Pueblo with a smile. You will be missed. (“Juicy” Susie)