By Illianna Valenzuela
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.”