Four Warriors To Travel To Denver, Witness Retired Lever Jersey

By Iram Arce

From Left to Right: Efrain Estrella, Marissa Orr, Laura Conde & Andrew T. Romero

On December 1, 2017, four Warrior students will travel to Denver to witness former Pueblo student Lafayette “Fat” Lever’s “Retiring of a Jersey” (No. 12) ceremony, accompanied by exceptional education teacher and yearbook advisor Ms. Marie Little and Assistant Principal Frank Rosthenhausler.

Fat Lever

Students may know that Pueblo has a “Lever” Gym, but sadly, many of our current Warriors do not even know Lever about his legendary status—how remarkable this Warrior was back in his high school days and how nationally acclaimed he would become well into the 1990s.

Lever began playing for the Denver Nuggets from 1984-1990, and during those seven seasons, he averaged 17 points, 7.6 rebounds and 7.5 assists. A two-time “All Star”, Lever ranks first all-time in franchise history in steals (1,167), second in assists (3,566), seventh in points (8,081) and eighth in rebounds (3,621).

And to think that this former all-star basketball player got his first taste of fame here at Pueblo during two very definitive basketball seasons: 1976-77 and 1977-78; Pueblo’s varsity basketball teams were State Champions for two consecutive years. Today, Lever Gym boasts these victorious seasons with banners that will definitely stand the test of time.

Math teacher Ms. Martha Avila-Miranda was a senior when our varsity Warrior basketball team won their first State championship.

“I have proud and fond memories of my high school years at Pueblo,” Avila-Miranda said, “and it was an exciting time to be a Warrior—especially as a member of the pom/cheer team traveling to all the basketball games. School and community spirit was sky high during the mid and late 1970s.  I definitely remember the basketball team under the direction of coach [Roland] Lavetter and the leadership of Fat Lever, who was very disciplined—and that model of working and playing hard transferred to all who knew them.”

Fat Lever pictured to the right of Coach Lavetter.

She added, “After all of these years, I am so touched to know that our former leaders and heroes have not forgotten their roots and are giving back to our Warrior community. I see many of the team members at different events here at PHS. I just want to say congratulations to Fat and all of his accomplishments. He is another reason that he has made us all proud to be Warriors.”

Lever, a 6’3” point guard, did not begin his NBA career with the Denver Nuggets, however. Two years earlier, Lever was the 11th overall pick in the 1981 draft—selected by the Portland Trailblazers after a successful run playing for the Arizona State University basketball team. (Lever would eventually return to ASU and complete his degree in education in 1996.)

By the time Lever arrived in Denver in 1984, the Nuggets were in desperate need of a miracle. That came in the 1985 season—when Lever helped the team advance to the Western Conference finals. Although the team would lose to the Los Angeles Lakers in five games, this season would prove to be the Nuggets’ most successful.

Although Lever played for the Dallas Mavericks from 1990-1994, Lever affirmed in several interviews that his heart was always with the Denver Nuggets. Due to several knee injuries and other circumstances, Lever retired from the NBA in 1994.

Lever later become a broadcaster for the Sacramento [California] Kings from 2007-2014, and eventually he returned to Arizona—Chandler, specifically—where he is currently a consultant in sports and international business. He also works with the Junior NBA program.

Our four Pueblo students—one from each of the media programs (radio, television, journalism and yearbook)—will have the privilege of witness Lever’s jersey being officially “retired” during a halftime Nuggets game on Saturday, Dec. 2.

After two weeks of raising enough money for airfare through many generous donors—and through a lot of tenacity and perseverance!—our Warriors depart from Tucson International Airport at 6 a.m. and will return to Tucson Sunday morning.

Yearbook student Andrew T. Romero, a junior, is the representative from his class and was very instrumental in initiating this trip. Back in October, Romero’s yearbook teacher, Ms. Marie Little, announced to her class that Lafayette (“Fat”) Lever’s jersey was going to be retired at a Denver Nuggets on Dec. 2 and that it would be a great opportunity for several of our Pueblo media students to travel to Denver and interview Lever and be a part of this historical sports moment.

From there, Romero had a conversation with former assistant principal Eduardo Nuñez (who was also a 1960 Pueblo High School graduate), who contacted Lever regarding Lever’s retirement celebration and getting Pueblo students there for this event. From there, Lever contacted Little—and Lever was able to get six media passes to the Dec. 2 Nuggets game. Lever is also taking care of our Warriors’ hotel costs for two nights.

Romero said, “I knew early on that this trip was going to be a possibility, and although I didn’t think I would be selected to participate. However, the universe likes me—I happen to be at the right place at the right time. My grades were low, but I was able to bring them up to passing, and therefore I now became eligible to represent yearbook.”

Romero approached Pueblo Principal Dr. Augustine Romero about this proposition and got his “thumbs up”.

“This trip [to Denver] is a great opportunity for our students!” Principal Romero said. “Lafayette [Lever] was, indeed, very generous!”

Junior Laura Conde, advanced journalism student, learned that she was going after editor-in-chief Iram Arce turned down the opportunity because he had “absolutely no interest in basketball.” Therefore, journalism teacher Mr. Rana Medhi selected Laura because of her excellent journalism skills.

“I didn’t want to get my hopes up too high,” Conde said, “because the whole thing seemed kind of far-fetched. But, now that we have our Southwest Airlines tickets, it’s definitely real. I’m looking forward to the interviewing process—obviously the most important story I’ll be writing.”

Radio student Marissa Orr, a senior, “When Ms. Wilson told me to go outside with Ms. Little, I thought I was framed or something. But, then I found out that I was selected to be the representative of radio to travel to Denver. This is an awesome opportunity for me—and I feel honored and privileged to have been selected by Ms. Wilson to represent radio.

Television student Efrain Estrella, another senior, said, “I feel very blessed and very lucky to be selected to go on this trip because it is a really big opportunity to not only for myself but my peers who will be coming along with me. This trip means a great deal to Pueblo High School as a whole, too.”

Ms. Marie Little, who will be co-escorting the students to Denver, said, “After the initial phone call, Lever was making contacts to ensure that all costs could be covered. Unfortunately, he was unable to secure airfare costs, so we had eight days to raise money to fly us six to Denver.”

Little said that in just eight days, she and the four students were able to raise $2,385—much of which came from current and former Pueblo faculty and staff members.

“We are beyond overwhelmed by the generosity of the Pueblo community,” Little said.

Mr. Frank Rosthenhausler, the other co-escort, said, “The entire Pueblo community is very excited about this trip. It’s awesome that our students are learning part of Pueblo’s history and also participating in the Denver Nuggets’ history. Very few students will ever get this kind of opportunity.”

Rosthenhausler added that he was a bit skeptical at first regarding the prospect of Ms. Little and students raising money for the air fare.

“The airline tickets were a hefty price, but they pulled it off,” he said. “I love how they were able to achieve this goal in such a short time.”

The entire Pueblo community anxiously awaits the students’ return to Pueblo to hear the highlights of this historical moment in sports history. The fact that Lever began his rise to athletic stardom and legendary sports acclaim right here at Pueblo makes this story even that much more powerful.

Sedgwick: Keeping It Positive

By Paula Fierros & Samantha Thurston

Rachael Sedgwick talks to Journalism Class

This past January, Ms. Rachael Sedgwick became TUSD’s newest member after a very narrow victory in the November 2016 election. In early May 2017, Sedgwick spoke to journalism students about her first five months in office.

Sedgwick boasted about being an Arizona native. In fact, she was born in Nogales, AZ, although she completed her education in many different places. Sedgwick attended middle school in Pennsylvania, high school in Connecticut and attended four different colleges.

Sedgwick said she has always been passionate about education, and she knew early on that she wanted to make a difference in people’s lives, so she began teaching—and did so for 12 years.

On one occasion, one of her professors asked her class, “Why do you want to be a teacher?”

Sedgwick answered, “For the kids.”

The professor replied, “Then go home and have some.”

It was at this time that Sedgwick said that she wanted to make a change in the educational system. Her first endeavor was to apply for law school; she was accepted.

She also ran to become a member of the TUSD School Board in order to help change the negative perception of the district; Sedgwick was the victor in a very close election against Betts Putnam-Hidalgo in last November’s election.

“I’m here [on the School Board] to try to change the negative perception of the district by making the district and people realize that investing their time and money in education is investing in everyone’s future,” said Sedgwick.

Sedgwick admitted that it is difficult to keep one’s political views out of the dialogue among her other four school board members.

“Some people like to use these positions [being on school boards, etc.] to enhance their own career,” Sedgwick said. “We [on the TUSD School Board] need to stay focused on the issues affecting this district. A lot of people view TUSD negatively, and with more work, I know that we can change this negative perception.”

She added that Dr. Gabriel Trujillo, the interim TUSD Superintendent who superseded Dr. H. T. Sanchez after his resignation in March, is one of the candidates for the permanent superintendent position. Sedgwick and the other school board members have barely begun the process of evaluating candidates.

For now, Sedgwick said she wants to stay positive and hopeful—and to pass the Bar Exam this summer.

Class of 2009 Pueblo Grad Returns For Visit—Very ‘Humbled’


By Daniela Moreno

rudy-valdez-press-conference-pueblo-journalism-studentsMr. Rudy Valdez, one of the more than 300 Pueblo graduates in the Class of 2009, visited the advanced journalism class  for a press conference explaining to them what life has been like following his high school graduation.

Valdez thought he had his whole life figured out, but after attending Pima for a short time after high school graduation, he realized how much more was really “out there”.

“I was scared at first [to move to L.A.] because I didn’t know what to expect,” said Valdez.

Prior to moving to Southern California, Valdez could be seen in several local commercials; he also had several promising modeling assignments. However, Arizona is not the place to act and model, Valdez said, because of the very few opportunities available.

Though he struggled a lot and hit many lows (including living in his car for nearly two months), his persistence allowed him to keep dreaming about “making it” in California.

“It’s humbling to admit how rough times became,” Valdez said. “But I wasn’t returning to Tucson so easily and quickly.”

His perseverance has paid off.

Valdez has been featured on shows such as Scandal, Switched at Birth, and Black Code and hopes to one day even move into production.

“It felt so great knowing I finally got here,” Valdez said. “Nothing has been easy, and I don’t expect things to stay easy for long. But, I love doing what I am doing—and everybody should love what they do for a living. It’s not just a living—it’s a life.”

Walter Cronkite Comes To Pueblo—Again!

yamilex-garcia-el-guerrero-pueblo-2016  omar-quintana-el-guerrero-pueblo-2016

By Yamilex Garcia and Omar Quintana

On Monday, November 14, 2016, Ms. Anita Luera, the director of ASU’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism for high school students, spoke to more than three dozen students in Mr. Rana Medhi’s journalism and Ms. Marie Little’s yearbook programs at Pueblo Magnet High School, primarily discussing the value and power of journalism in our society today.

“Journalism should be about the truth, and our society needs the truth more than ever,” Luera said. “Journalism careers will increase as people will always need news, and hopefully well-balanced, fair, objective news.”

She also promoted the upcoming 2017 Summer Institute at ASU for all students interested in media careers. Students can begin applying for this program as early as January.

Ms. Anita Luera speaks to our yearbook students with Victor Garcia sharing his experience.

Pueblo senior Victor Garcia was encouraged by his media teacher last year, Ms. Pamela Shapiro, to apply—and eventually be accepted to attend the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism Summer Institute last summer. Garcia said that he wanted to explore the modern facilities of the school as well as its technical parts, including the contemporary newsrooms. For two weeks, Garcia worked with other students from mostly Arizona, as well as one student from France.

“We [the students in the program] still keep in touch via group chats,” Garcia said. “That’s how close we became because we had to work together and produced a media package.” He paused and said, “It’s an intense program—you really learn a lot about the world of journalism and have to meet deadlines and be responsible. I would encourage all students who have a general interest in media to apply for this prestigious program.”

Garcia said that he learned a lot about diplomacy in the Summer Institute. “It wasn’t all about journalism,” he said. “My work ethic improved a great deal when I returned this year to Pueblo as a senior.”

Garcia said that he hasn’t firmly committed to a collegiate major, but at this time, he is exploring an option in public policies—somehow involved in the political world.

Luera visited a few other media programs, including radio (with Ms. Sarah Wilson and her students) as well as photography (taught by Ms. Emma Tarazon).

This is Luera’s ninth year of visiting Pueblo Magnet High School, speaking to hundreds of students over the years.

“I never get tired of coming to Pueblo,” Luera said. “Your school [Pueblo] is very fortunate to have so many different media programs—especially as part of your magnet program.”

Anita Luera, a long-time journalist and past president of the Arizona Latino Media Association, is the first director of high school journalism programs for the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University.

Luera oversees an expanding array of high school programs, including national training institutes for high school journalism teachers and students. She also leads school’s outreach programs to high schools around the region that are working to develop and improve their journalism programs.


Journalism Goes Totally Digital


By Nayeli Sanchez

After a quarter century, journalism teacher Mr. Rana Medhi continues to teach beginning and advanced journalism at Pueblo Magnet High School. He was specifically hired in 1992 to rejuvenate the program.

From 1988 until Medhi was hired in 1992, Pueblo did not have a journalism program.

“I was shocked to learn that a high school did not have a journalism program when I interviewed for this job a million years ago,” Medhi said. “At that time in public schools, especially in T.U.S.D., all high schools had a newspaper department.”

Over the years, Medhi said that he has seen an improvement not only in his program but also students commitment for his journalism programs.

“Student participation has increased a great deal over the years,” Medhi said. “Only four students enrolled in the program my first year. The next year, I had more than 40 students involved in journalism. That figure has stayed at about that number over the past 20 years, but I also could and would love to teach 100 students the craft and art of journalism.”

Lauren Ahern, 2016-2017 Editor-in-Chief, with Advisor Mr. Medhi

During the late 1990s and early 2000s, Medhi took “a break” from teaching journalism at Pueblo to earn his master’s in education administration. Since 2002, however, he has continuously taught two levels of journalism.

“[Advancements in] technology have made it easier for us to create our newspapers and make them pieces of art,” Medhi said. “The graphics are becoming easier to learn all of the time, and students love this aspect of journalism. Not only are the articles interesting, but their layout is creative.”

Most of students’ stories are posted on the school’s official website; by the end of the school year, students will write an average of 150 stories. And at the end of the year, a hard copy has been a tradition and definitely an expectation, which focuses teacher retirements, spring sports programs and, overwhelmingly, senior-related articles.

Efforts are currently happening to assign specific curricula to students. For example, one or two students could be in charge of all magnet-related stories; another one or two students could cover all science stories. Medhi said that all facets of school life should be reported.

“Our goal is to not leave anybody out of our stories,” he added. “All members of the Pueblo community are unique, hard-working and vital to the Pueblo family.”

Editor-in-chief Lauren Ahern, a senior, has been a devoted member of the journalism program for three years and has great visions for 2016-17.