Even though Pueblo High School has officially closed its campus this first semester of the school year due to the Covid-19 pandemic, that does not mean that there are not great acts occurring.
On Thursday, October 29, several members of the Class of 2019, along with students from Ms. Espindola’s Garden Club and other volunteers, planted 23 trees around the school.
Graphic design teacher and Class of 2019 sponsor Mr. Ernesto Somoza said, “The senior class gifted me this project back in 2019, and they had to remind me several times that the project needed to get done. I felt like the student in this case.”
Class of 2019 President Sam Lopez said, “The idea of planting trees was definitely something we have wanted to do since our freshman year. I believe the idea originally started back in a conversation between my mom and me during my first few weeks of high school. From there, my best friend and future Vice President Aylin [Coronado] and I brainstormed ways of leaving something that will embody the spirit and
growth that the class of 2019 had. Planting trees was the most symbolic thing we could think of. With the help of our amazing sponsor, Mr. Somoza, we were able to pull this all together.”
Most of the trees were planted in the north section of the school, but some were planted by the tennis courts and a few in the front of the school. Prior to the “big dig” event, Somoza and Lopez initiated the project by shoveling the earth, as starters, and realized that the task of planting nearly two dozen trees was going to be challenging for the incoming crew.
“The ground was very hard,” Somoza said, “so for the days leading up to planting the trees, Sam [Lopez] and I—along with his mother—went to Pueblo to pour water in each of the holes to soften the dirt.”
Eventually, after the dirt was softened, other participants from the Class of 2019 included Aylin Coronado, Mary Rose Bourbon, Jovan Miller, Kendall Ervin and Jasmine Bojorquez, could start digging holes and planting the trees. Many other people were involved in this project, including parents, underclassmen and several volunteers from the Tucson Clean and Beautiful Organization.
Several varieties of trees were planted, including Red Push Pistache and Vitex. Three Texas Ash trees were donated by Pueblo High School Principal Mr. Frank Rosthenhausler (aka “Mr. R”). In the future, Somoza said that bench tables, a mural and flower beds may be placed in the same area to create a “Warrior Pride Plaza”.
In the short time since the trees have been planted, Somoza said that the spaces are already becoming habitats for wildlife.
“I saw a large red cardinal sitting on top of one of the trees and many other small wild birds using these trees as resting spots,” Somoza said. “The Vitex trees have already brought some butterflies, a praying mantis and a few lady bugs. It is interesting to see how an area like this can change so quickly in just a week or two by introducing water and trees.”
He added, “The entire project process was beautiful. I really enjoyed seeing former students working with new students to make a positive change on our campus and in the world.”
“Being a student at Pueblo High School and being part of the Class of 2019 definitely had the biggest impact on who I am today,” Lopez said. “My time here at Pueblo, although short, were the best times of my life. It felt right to give back to something that has given so much to me.”
Lopez added, “The callouses on Mr. Somoza’s hands will definitely serve as reminders of all of the hard work.”
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.
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.”
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.
In spirit of Thanksgiving, our Warriors always show their generosity to the Pueblo community and to the entire city. This is especially true of marketing teacher’s Dr. Maria Bicknell’s students, who made over 400 sandwiches for the Casa Maria Catholic Worker Community; these sandwiches will be distributed to the hungry.
Bicknell said that her marketing classes learn about different social responsibilities, including feeding the homeless.
“It’s [Casa Maria has] been there for so long, and it’s a valuable service that promotes justice and dignity to people who are not only homeless but also are members of the working community,” Bicknell said.
She added that many of her students generous brought condiments, bread and delicatessen meats in order to make the hundreds of sandwiches.
Junior Alexis Castro, one of Bicknell’s marketing students, said, “My favorite part of this project is getting to help people because it’s so rewarding and so humbling.”
Another marketing student, Alexis Basurto, a senior, said, “I have learned to appreciate the little things in life and not to take anything for granted.”
After several grueling months of prepping for the AP world history exam, 11 Pueblo sophomores took on the challenge of the AP exam for the first time on May 11.
As a new AP world history teacher this year, Ms. Victoria Bodanyi said that the experience was definitely memorable.
“I like how much I also get to learn while teaching,” said Bodanyi. “Teaching an AP class is definitely a challenge, but I enjoy it. I’m a history nerd.”
At the beginning of February, Bodanyi began the process to help her students to prepare her students for the exam in three months.
Prior to the exam, all 11 of the AP world history students expressed that they were prepared for the big exam and had been even more challenged during class.
Jazlin Ladriere, a sophomore who took the exam, said, “I did feel like I was prepared, and the mock exams that Ms. Bodanyi gave us were actually harder than the actual AP exam.”
Another sophomore, Yazmin Almazan, said, “Before the exam, I felt like it was going to be the hardest test I would ever take. However, I felt pretty confident about my score after the exam.”
Jessica Noperi, yet another brave sophomore, said, “If you’re taking AP world history next year, be sure to do you work on time and keep up with the AP standards throughout the year.”
This year’s sophomores were the first class to experience the rigorous curriculum of AP world history. Despite this, most of them confirmed that they were continuing their AP journey and felt more competent to continue the AP trend.
Pueblo’s National Honor Society (NHS) continues its highly reputable status. This organization continues to corral some of Pueblo’s highest-achieving students—not only in academics but also in character.
The requirements for being in NHS continue to be very specific and very high. Students are required to earn at least a 3.6 grade point average (GPA), have some community service experience, possess a “good” character, including having leadership experience and/or motivation to be a great leader.
NHS is a community service-based club, serving the needs not only at Pueblo but also the community itself. This year, for example, NHS has committed to fundraising for Pima Animal Care Center (PACC). NHS students have raised money from car washes and other activities to raise funds for the PACC.
According to NHS sponsor Ms. Kelly Crane, “We raise money so they [Pima Animal Care Center] can use it as they need.”
NHS currently has 63 members. Of these, 29 are new members joining this spring semester. Crane reported that 20 seniors in NHS will be graduating with honors in May.
One of those seniors, Valentino Lugo, president of NHS, said that this club helps contribute to society by getting students to volunteer because that is the way to get into this club besides having high grades.
Valentino said, “I have really liked being president this school year because it’s a good way to communicate with everybody in the school. I’ve really gotten to know a lot of underclassmen.”
He added that although he has enjoyed the privilege and prestige of being one of Pueblo’s most elite clubs, he is ready to “pass the torch” onto somebody else next year.
On Friday, January 13, 2017, former Pueblo freshman counselor Mr. Saul Ostroff brought a group of students to our campus from Myers Ganoung Elementary School to express their love and support in regards to the recent vandalism that has plagued our Warrior spirits.
Prior to coming to Pueblo, Ostroff and a group of six elementary school students helped serve food at Casa Maria before bringing custom t-shirts reading “We Love Pueblo” to our campus, in the hopes of enlightening the school’s spirit.
“I was devastated to hear what happened to my old home [Pueblo], so I decided it was only right to bring the love to Pueblo,” Ostroff said.
Ostroff and the elementary kids, ranging from third to fifth-graders, walked into classrooms and yelled, “WE LOVE PUEBLO!” to science teachers—many of whom have lost the ability to teach in their own classes due to the widespread vandalism.
Juan Valdez, a fifth-grader, said, “Pueblo is a good school, and I want to come here when I’m older. I don’t know why people would do such a cruel thing.”
Jasmine Garcia, a fourth-grader said, “This is a really beautiful school, and I will definitely come here one day. It’s not fair that bad people want to make this look like a bad school, because it’s not.”
Third-grader Emily Vazquez said, “I wish that the love that my friends and I feel for Pueblo helps everybody at that great school feel better!”
Pricilla Gonzales, a fourth-grader, said, “We know everyone in this school is going through stressful times, so that’s why we brought love—everyone needs it.”