Ms. Sarah Barnes Begins New Life In Tucson In 21st Century

By Ernesto Estopellan

On the first day of the 21st Century (Jan. 1, 2001), Ms. Sarah Barnes, one of the most visibly new employees at Pueblo High School this school year, arrived in Tucson from the East Coast, serving as a multi-tiered systems facilitator to help teachers learn new strategies to help increase our students’ test scores—as well as boost the overall morale at Pueblo.

Late last semester, Barnes was the primary speaker for our entire student population during a cohort meeting, stressing responsible cell phone behavior and other important social media advice.

“I want to get to know everybody at Pueblo,” Barnes said. “I want to know our students, the teachers, work with administrators and I want people to ask questions because I have a lot of questions to ask. In the short time that I’ve been here, I can tell that this school has a heart and soul.”

Barnes was born in Delaware in 1977, and while visiting Tucson, she fell in love with the weather, so she transferred from the University of Delaware to the University of Arizona.

“Moving here [to Tucson] was like getting out of jail,” Barnes said. “It was liberating to get out of Delaware for many personal reasons.”

She explained that education was not her first choice for a career. In fact, Barnes said that she studied criminology and even considered joining the police academy.

“Somehow my focus changed to education when I met somebody who suggested that I become a teacher,” Barnes said. “That somebody was our assistant principal Frank Rosthenhausler.”

She taught math for more than a dozen years before becoming interested in becoming a multi-tiered systems facilitator.

“I want to be a positive influence at Pueblo,” Barnes said. “I’m here for just about everybody—especially our students. But, I want teachers to know, too, that I wholeheartedly support them in every way possible.”

Barnes helps recognize students’—and teachers’!—perfect attendance this school year, printing achievement certificates for them.

“Everybody is a star at Pueblo,” she said.

Ms. Rachel Apalategui ‘Checks In’ With Attendance Office

By Esperanza Landeros

After the sudden retirement of registrar Ms. Marina Ordoñez last summer, a new Warrior comes to the rescue to fill that position: Ms. Rachel Apalategui—who actually knew Ordoñez for many years prior to coming to Pueblo.

Apalategui is no stranger to Tucson Unified School District. She has worked at multiple schools, including Grijalva Elementary School, Pistor Middle School, Tucson High Magnet School and now at Pueblo.

“So far, I really do enjoy being here,” Apalategui said. “Pueblo people are very sweet, and our students are very, very kind.”

Coming to Pueblo has been somewhat of a bittersweet transition, Apalategui admitted. She spent 14 years at Tucson High, which she said kept her “grounded”.

“To be honest, I was really homesick [for Tucson High] in my first few weeks of being at Pueblo,” Apalategui said. “However, I have no regrets at all at this time, but coming here was a really huge change. I was used to more than 3,200 students compared to half of that number at Pueblo.” She paused and said, “I do love the smaller numbers.”

To be a high school registrar requires a great deal of communication and diplomacy, Apalategui explained. For example, this spring, she has to ensure that seniors have sufficient credits to graduate, and that can be very frustrating. She added that she has to have a frequent dialogue with counselors to make sure every senior is on track to graduate—and how to help every senior graduate in May.

“My advice to students—and especially to seniors this semester—is to make an appointment with their counselors to make a plan to best suit their chances of graduating on time,” she said. “Nothing is more tragic than seniors waiting until the last few weeks before graduation only to realize that they are missing one credit or even one-half credit—and not graduating until summer.”

Although her office walls are a bit bare, they won’t be for long, Apalategui insisted.

“Pueblo is home now,” she said.

…And Assistant Principal Gunnels Makes Four

by Adamaris Castillo

New this school year to the administrative family at Pueblo High School is former English teacher Ms. Kathryn Gunnels, who officially begins as assistant principal with a long list of responsibilities, including the planning of meetings for teachers (Professional Learning Communities), supervising advanced learning opportunities, finalizing the master schedule and organizing student-testing events.

She also communicates to staff via a weekly update on teachers’ computer work stations.

“This is the hardest job I’ve ever had,” Gunnels said, “but I also love it—not only to help students but also to support Pueblo’s great teaching staff.”

Gunnels, who taught English for 10 years at Pueblo (in two separate time periods), actually fulfilled her student-teaching assignment under the supervision of Mr. Manny Galvan, who retired a few years ago (but occasionally substitute-teaches) and Ms. Marci Bowman, who also retired from teaching.

“I knew then [while student-teaching] that Pueblo was a special place,” Gunnels said. “I may have left Pueblo for a few years [to pursue other positions], but I’m definitely back, and it feels like a second home.”

She revealed that education was not her first career choice. Gunnels said that she majored in business, but after mentoring at the Arizona School for the Deaf and Blind, she was inspired to become an educator.

And, as far as being the fourth employee with the surname “Gunnels” to be employed at Pueblo High School, Assistant Principal Gunnels said, “We have a rule at our house at the dinner table. My husband, two sons and I are not allowed to talk about school.”

Husband Mr. Michael Gunnels is a communications media tech teacher; son Jeren is a transition school-to-work instructional specialist; and other son, Derek, is an exceptional education teacher.

“I’m here [as an assistant principal] especially for our students,” Gunnels said. “I want students to know that when they make mistakes or face monumental obstacles, it’s not the end of the world. I want to help them realize that there is a light at the end of the tunnel. I want to help them find solutions to their problems.”

She added, “I want our students at Pueblo to know that they can do anything with their lives—they have the potential to achieve greatness.”

Hiking Club: Mount Everest Is The Limit!

  

By Ashley Cordova & Elizabeth Noriega

Pueblo Hiking Club at Organ Pipe National Monument

Pueblo’s Hiking Club, sponsored by Mr. Ernesto Somoza, is off and running to new heights this year, as a record number of Warriors have joined—a total of approximately 50!—including about 10 adults, which include several teachers.

Last school year, 13 Hiking Club students participated in a Grand Canyon experience during spring break, which may have contributed to the high number of students joining this year, Somoza said. The trip was “very successful” and seemed to be an impetus for students wanting to join this school year.

Somoza plans to repeat this trip during spring break this March—due in part to the success of the club’s tax credit drive which raised more than $1,250. He added that he would love to take students to out-of-state hikes, including Yosemite in Central California and Arches National Park in Southern Utah—among other places. The more tax credit donations that the club receives, the more trips the club can partake in during the school year.

He added that only 10 students are able to participate in the Grand Canyon trip, and this participation is based on students’ generous tax dollars they donate to the club as well as their activeness in the club throughout the school year.

Mr. Ernesto Somoza (Left) with his sister Melissa Somoza at Humphrey’s Peak, the highest natural point in Arizona at 12,633 feet!

“The club has an excellent variety of students this year,” Somoza said. “They come with a variety of skill levels and with an enthusiasm to spend time in the outdoors.”Meetings take place in Mr. Somoza’s classroom (T-12) after school on the first Tuesday of each month. Club President Anette Durazo ensures that the club stay organized and helps approve hiking trips.

Durazo said, “Being in the Hiking Club has truly helped me become more outgoing. I love Arizona more than I did being. Going to Sedona last April really opened my eyes about seeing this great state. I love being outdoors a lot more now and appreciating nature.”

She added that the club’s next trip is scheduled for Feb. 10 to Colossal Caves, just east of Tucson.

“Even though I’m a native Tucsonan, I’ve never been to Colossal Caves,” Durazo said. “In fact, I’ve never been inside a real cave and looking forward to it.”

Senior Thai Kromrei, who has been a member of the Hiking Club for two years, said, “I’ve gotten to experience seeing Arizona. It’s such a beautiful and geographically diverse state. I want to see it all now, and thanks to Mr. Somoza, we are seeing a great chunk of it.”

The club was founded in ­­­­the fall of 2015, Somoza’s first full school year.

The inception of the Hiking Club was the result of a conversation that Somoza had with (then) Assistant Principal Alma Carmona while attending a conference in Colorado. Somoza was talking to her about how he wanted to become more involved outside of the classroom. As a result of his over-zealous spirit, Carmona encouraged Somoza to become a Class of 2019 sponsor as well as the advisor of the newly-found Hiking Club.

“I hiked a lot during my college years, and I wanted students to experience what I enjoyed so much,” Somoza said.

He added that besides the Grand Canyon trip, Hiking Club members can expect other adventurous moments this semester—including the trip to Sedona and other small trips around the Tucson area.

“After I graduate, I plan to stay involved with the Hiking Club,” Durazo said. “Perhaps I could be a chaperone for high school students’ trips—to give me a chance to see more of Arizona and help promote a very worthy club.”

Sub Speaks Out, Encourages Students To Take Risks, Dress For Success

By Jessica Prado

Among the two or three hundred substitute teachers that Pueblo welcomes every school year, very few can boast that they have published a book, attended the legendary Woodstock Music Festival in 1969 and dress better than most of our contract teachers.

Ms. Diane Donato is definitely difficult to miss. She loves fashion—her fashion—and she wears it well.

“The way you dress truly represents yourself to the world,” Donato said. “When you look better, you feel better.”

Donato feels so strongly about clothing and fashion that she based her published book, Clothes Encounters of the Divine Kind, on the premise that what she wears has made—and continues to make—a colossal difference in her own spiritual awakening and that her attire has helped her to “heal” from a series of personal tragedies in her past.

Raised in Waterbury, Conn., Donato said that she grew up “a free spirit”. After graduating high school in 1967, she attended college and was among the millions of young people protesting the Vietnam War.

“I wanted to help the world become a better place,” Donato said. “I still would love to help save the world.”

She added that she “took a break” in the middle of her college years in August 1969 to attend the Woodstock Music and Art Festival in upstate New York—known today as simply “Woodstock”—where nearly half a million people rejoiced in their generation’s greatest musical artists.

“I definitely identified with much of the music from that era,” Donato said. “One of that era’s greatest songs was John Lennon’s ‘Give Peace A Chance’, which is still as relevant today as it was nearly 40 years ago. I’m all about world peace.”

After a lot of cold winters and expensive real estate, Donato ventured to Arizona at age 65, a few years after she retired.

“I really want to be a motivational speaker,” she said. “I have a lot to say to a lot of people. One thing I would like to tell all young people is that they should take risks and follow their passions.”

Donato’s book, Clothes Encounters of the Divine Kind, is available at Barnes and Noble or online at Amazon in both soft and hard covers.

Mr. Cortez—Back in ‘Familiar’ Territory

by Inez Gonzales

Spanish teacher Mr. Eleuterio Cortez is one out of the two dozen or more new teachers and staff members new to Pueblo this year.

Cortez, who teaches students in grades 9-12, is very motivated to teach them about the Spanish culture and language. If he looked familiar to some students on the first day, it is because he substituted at Pueblo last year.

“I have absolutely no complaints as a new, full-time teacher,” Cortez said. “I love it so far, and my students have been great!” he said.

“I enjoy my time in what I do, and I hope to be here for many years,” said Cortez.

As a Pueblo graduate from the Class of 2006, Cortez said that he is already familiar with the school, and he is glad that many of his former teachers are still here—such as science teacher Ms. Fatima Lopez; Spanish teacher Mr. Eleazar Ortiz; and English teachers Ms. Andrea Ayala and Ms. Kathryn Gunnels. He added that “it helps to have family here, too”; one of Pueblo’s newest English teachers, Ms. Imelda Cortez, is his cousin.

He added that even though Mr. Steve Lopez is now an administrator at Valencia Middle School, Cortez learned a great deal in his classroom.

“Pueblo was always very good to me,” Cortez said, “and it’s a privilege that I have this opportunity to return as a teacher and give something back in return.”