‘Project Contact’ Rolls Back To Pueblo Campus

By Victoria Cazares & Adam Bonillas

Pima County Health Services Van at Pueblo.

Project Contact has returned to Pueblo High School.

This service is an outlet to educate students about preventing sexually-transmitted diseases, teen pregnancy and to provide knowledge about having safe sex.

Nurse Kate Straub contacted this program to be a part of the Pueblo community as a way to keep our students safe and educated about sex.

“Project Contact is a fantastic!” said Straub. “This service reduces students’ chances of getting pregnant,” said Straub, “as well as keeping them informed about sexually-transmitted diseases.”

Project Contact is part of the Pima County Health Department and is on campus every second and fourth Monday of the month from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m., located in a large RV in the southwestern part of the campus by the portables.

“Students can freely obtain information and get educated about sex, and so far this service has been a positive experience for students,” Straub said. “Hundreds of students have already taken advantage of Project Contact,” said Straub.

She added that this service provides free and confidential advice to students; contraception, condoms, and STD testing and treatment to all Pueblo students is available.

Students interested in visiting this service can sign up in the nurse’s office; students will be discreetly called out of class whenever the Project Contact RV is on campus.

Straub said, “Nobody is going to know your [students’] business, so there’s no need for anybody to feel embarrassed. Everything is confidential.”

A senior, who wishes anonymity, said she had a “very positive” experience visit to Project Contact.

She said, “These medical professionals were genuinely nice. I learned a lot during my visit and recommend that if students need this kind of advice or help to sign up for this free service.”

Straub said that she is planning to continue this program for as long as she can, labeling it “a great resource” for the Pueblo community.

“For now, Project Contact is here to stay,” she added.

This service is also available at TAPP (Teenage Parent Program) and Tucson High School.

“Project Contact would like to visit other schools—as the service will be available to anywhere if the program is embraced by schools’ administrators and nurses,” Straub said.

“I’m just happy that we are lucky enough to have this service available to our Pueblo community,” she said.

New Seeds Sprout In Pueblo Garden

by Jose Jovel

Pueblo Garden Club with sponsors Ms. Espindola (flowers shirt) & Mr. Pitts (gray shirt)

The seeds have been planted; the sun is shining. There is hope.

Pueblo High School’s Garden Club has big plans for the 2021-22 school year, and they have already begun to plant new vegetation—setting their goals high for a productive year and a promising future.

The club will continue the reconstruction of the garden and discuss new directions for Pueblo’s little acre of botanical bliss.

One of the club’s primary goals is to continue to clean and clear the garden after it was destroyed two years ago. (Those responsible for the garden’s “massacre” have never been determined.)

With new enthusiastic sponsors and a tenacious group of students, everybody in this club is ready to roll up his and her sleeves and get a little dirty.

Pueblo science teachers Mr. Nicolas Pitts and Ms. Melissa Espindola, this year’s Garden Club sponsors, are eager to provide learning opportunities for students this school year and for years to come.

“We don’t know exactly what happened to the garden two years ago, but everybody in the Garden Club is excited to make the garden better than ever,” Espindola said.

Garden Club member, sophomore Jolette Coronado, said, “Working on this garden provides new opportunities to learn. We are planting foods that we can actually eat as well as learning how to nurture to everything that we grow.” She paused and said, “Everybody in the club is excited about our harvests after all of our hard work.”

Pitts said, “The Garden Club will definitely live on but in a new direction.” He added that the garden will take multiple years to return to its original state, but he hopes that new students in the club will be creative and add their own footprints to the garden.

Progress made in the garden.

Every student is welcome to join the club; meetings are held Thursdays after school. Everybody is encouraged to share ideas how to resurrect the garden and bring new life to the northwestern corner of Pueblo’s campus.

“We already have all the garden beds working,” said Pitts. “We’re on our way to making this garden a new learning environment for all teachers and students.”

Kickoff Game 2021 Against Sahuaro Postponed

by Marla Terminel

After members of both teams went under isolation for COVID-19 risk and exposure, Pueblo’s first kickoff game against Sahuaro High School, originally scheduled for Thursday, Sept. 2, was postponed due to protocols.

The match was one of two that are a part of Southern Arizona’s 11th annual “Coaches for Charity Kickoff” event.

“It [the cancelation] was unfortunate, but due to an abundance of caution, it had to happen,” said Pueblo’s athletic director, Coach Miguel “Miggs” Sandoval.

Pueblo’s football season will now open on Friday, Sept. 10, at Rincon/University High School.

“It was sad at the moment, but I realized the season wouldn’t be cancelled,” said Josiah Gastelum, a sophomore on this year’s varsity squad. He added that despite the untimely circumstances, postponing the game would also give the team more time to practice for the late kickoff game. “Having more time to prepare for this season may be a blessing from the football gods.”

Mr. Jesus Jacquez, Pueblo’s band director and music teacher, said that COVID-19 has been a constant barrier on everyone’s lives, as it is one that impacts athletes, performers, as well as the entire student body and staff individually.

Through the heightened health procedures and cancelled events, the team has not only learned to overcome challenges, but have thrived with their resources.

The Kickoff game against Sahuaro will now be held Thursday, Oct. 29.

“COVID isn’t stopping us,” Gastelum said. “We’ll keep getting better and work hard through our problems as a team.”

Student Council Stays Strong During Pandemic

By Hector Guzman 

During this 2020-2021 school year, Pueblo’s Student Council has faced many challenges and jumped over many obstacles due to the COVID-19 pandemic that has prevented this club from performing normally. 

Mr. Gregory Obregon, who teaches Algebra 1 and 2, is once again this year’s Student Council advisor/teacher. Like many at Pueblo, he has expressed his frustrations of online instruction and trying to ensure that Student Council continues to be functional. 

“We [students and teachers/sponsors] may not be able to be with our students in person, but the work we still need to do really does matter,” Obregon said. 

However, he does have hope that this situation will not last forever but wishes he had had more time to prepare for a remote learning environment. 

“It [Covid-19] will pass,” he said. 

Franchesca Fernandez

Franchesca Fernandez, a senior and this year’s Student Council president, has also encountered her share of challenges this school year. She said that insufficient student participation has affected her job, and she has had difficulty contacting people. She said that she conducts meetings by planning schedules and having business meetings on Thursdays, and afterwards allows members to be in their committees. 

Fernandez said that this year Student Council is looking at online alternatives to raise money, including Percentage Night Fundraisers. She hopes to continue raising money for the club throughout the entire school year. 

“Student Council is there for them [students],” Fernandez said. “We are trying our hardest amidst the pandemic to keep pushing, and we will eventually get through it.” 

Obregon said that he misses an in-person Student Council a lot—as well as all the activities, group work and just hanging out with his club members. 

“Showing school spirit is quite hard during the pandemic,” Obregon said, “because we are unable to decorate the hallways and put up posters.” 

He expressed sadness on not being able to give students a real Student Council environment. 

“Despite the hardships, we’re all together in this,” he said.

Keeping The Holidays Close To Home

By Yesenia Ybarra 

The spread of Coronavirus has increased rapidly in Pima County and throughout Arizona in the past several weeks, and this “second wave” is expected to bring even greater numbers of cases—even higher than the astronomical rates throughout last summer. 

As of Dec. 7, there have been 46,000+ confirmed cases in Pima County, which has a population of 1.1 million; more than 730 people in the Tucson metropolitan area have died as a result. 

In Maricopa County (including the Phoenix metropolitan area), the number of COVID-19 cases have surpassed 228,000 confirmed cases with more than 4,000 deaths. 

Arizona’s Coronavirus cases are nearing 337,000, with nearly 7,000 deaths in the past nine months. 

Health experts urged people to stay home during the Thanksgiving holiday and to keep gatherings at a “minimum”; many ignored those warnings, which explains the sudden surge in COVID-19 cases. With Christmas and New Year’s approaching quickly, the same warnings have been echoed—this time even louder. 

In her recent first State of the City address, Tucson Mayor Regina Romero stated, “After consulting with public health experts and local hospitals, we have determined that additional steps are necessary to control the surge of COVID-19 case.” 

Earlier this month, the Tucson City Council announced a curfew for the city of Tucson—urging residents to stay home between the hours of 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. at least until Dec. 23. 

It will be up to Arizona residents to heed this advice. It is everybody’s responsibility to take Coronavirus seriously. 

Hospitals are at near-maximum capacity with COVID-19 patients, and during the flu season, which affects thousands of Arizonans every year during this time, hospitals need to have room for them. Also, there are thousands of residents in Arizona with serious health conditions, such as heart disease, cancer and diabetes, that need regular health care. If hospitals are maxed-out with COVID-19 patients, then those with other serious diseases will be in jeopardy. 

Doctors are going to be determining which patients die and which patients live, a most disturbing decision. If we all take responsibility for our own safety, then we could minimize the future spread of COVID-19. 

We’ve all been educated about how to stay safe in this era of COVID-19, but here are some reminders as we approach the holiday season: 

(1) Wear masks at all times in public places; ensure these masks completely cover the nose and mouth; 

(2) Keep at least six feet away from people; 

(3) Wash hands for at least 20 seconds as often as possible; 

(4) Keep gatherings at a minimum, and wear masks around people who do not live with you; 

(5) Avoid touching the face. 

It’s important that we all stay safe this holiday season. With promising vaccines in the horizon, our situation is not permanent. 

Our upcoming holiday/winter break is a great time for people to become creative and to start projects that have been on your bucket list for a while. Maybe it’s time to clean out that cluttered closet or garage or to paint your bedroom a different color… Before the pandemic, people complained they didn’t have enough time to get everything done. 

Maybe it’s time to get everything done.

COVID-19 Devastates Local Businesses

By Kevin Salazar and Jaime Montaño 

2020 has been a year that has changed many lives due to the outrageous outbreak of Coronavirus, otherwise known as COVID-19. This pandemic has had a profound impact on just about everyone, and this especially includes local businesses. 

Many shops in Tucson have had to shut down due to a lack of customers and economic problems due to this pandemic. This has especially affected smaller, independent businesses that relied on loyal patrons who are staying home, quarantining. 

“One way that I have been affected by COVID-19 is that I don’t get as many clients as before,” said Mr. Alberto Salazar, a barber from Tucson. “A lot of these people are afraid of coming into the barbershop to get a haircut and exposing themselves to the virus, although everything is clean. They are just simply afraid to go into a public place where different people come in daily.” 

COVID-19 has, in fact, affected barbering so much this past year that many barbershops have closed completely. Many barbers have had to quit their jobs due to little income. Barbers were not able to cut hair from their own home because they would get fined. Some businesses were allowed to open for a short time, but clients had to wear face masks, and barbers could not do their beards. Having facial hair cuts were, for some patrons, part of the process. Many patrons just stopped going to barbers altogether. 

Instructor for Fade Master’s Academy, Mr. Memo Kaphan, said, “The whole barber industry is hurting from something we can’t control, and all we can do is promote ourselves through this bad time. When everything is normal again, we will have hopefully experience a major boost in our business.’’ 

Although businesses are fervid about disinfection, many patrons are still afraid of contracting COVID-19. 

“We don’t sell as much [food] anymore,” said Mr. Riodel Salazar, a taco shop owner in Tucson. “The percentage of people who used to come before is very different than now. Not many families are seen, and the sales went down almost by half.” 

Tucson, obviously, is not the only American city to have been adversely affected by COVID-19. According to Yelp, more than 163,000 businesses have closed as result of the Coronavirus—nearly 100,000 of them permanently. 

“Let’s all hope this ends soon, and we can all go back to our normal everyday lives,” said Salazar.