Mrs. Herrera: Back ‘Home’ To Teach

By Briana Barreda

“It feels really good to be back at Pueblo,” said Ms. Estefania Herrera, a 2011 Pueblo graduate who has returned to her alma mater to teach ELD (Levels 3 & 5) after teaching junior English at Desert View for five years.

Although she misses her Desert View students, Herrera said that she was ready for a change.

“I always planned to return to Pueblo,” she said. “My high school years at Pueblo were the best, and every time I walk down the halls, I am flooded with nothing but awesome, fun memories.”

Herrera said that Pueblo life was much different a dozen years ago.

“I’m disappointed that so many high school students live on their phones,” she said. “Few students even had phones when I attended Pueblo, and we [students] communicated better with one another. I have definitely seen a decline in adolescent social skills, and that’s sad to me.”

One of Herrera’s objectives is to instill in her students that education is the key to success.

“The more you learn, the better you understand the world around you,” she said. “Today, college is no longer an option—it’s a necessity to make a living. Students need to be mindful of their teachers and learn as much as they can from them.”

Last month, Herrera married Leonardo, her fiancé of several years.

“I’m happily married, I’m back at Pueblo, and I have the best students ever,” she said. “So, yeah, I’m very happy, and I hope that is contagious to my students. I can only hope that they have as much fun as I did during high school.”

Although Herrera plans to be a teacher for several more years, she would like to earn a master’s degree—perhaps in education or another field.

“I think we need younger principals,” she said. “I think students are able to connect with younger administrators better than older ones who might be slightly out of touch with this generation.”

For now, however, Herrera is still elated to be back home and in her own classroom.

“It’s [my classroom] really all mine,” she said. “And this Class of ’11 Warrior is teaching future graduating Warriors. What could be better and more fulfilling?”

‘Hall of Fame’ Ceremony Inspires Seniors

By Alexis Vargas & Emely Villanueva

On Sunday, Nov. 5, Pueblo High School held its 6th annual “Hall of Fame” Induction ceremony at the Desert Diamond Casino Conference Center.

Select Pueblo students and faculty members were invited to a morning entertainment by Mariachi Aztlan de Pueblo High School, brunch, and the opportunity to meet all 10 of this year’s inductees as well as to hear their inspirational acceptance speeches.

This year’s inductees were part of PHS Classes ranging from 1959 to 1999 and have carried the “Warrior” role to greater heights in life, many of whom attended prestigious universities and received their doctorate degrees.

Sadly, one inductee, Rudy Valenzuela (Class of 1979), recently passed away, but his daughter gladly accepted the award.

While delivering their speeches, Pueblo students were inspired by their words of advice, insight into personal hardships they were forced to overcome, and return to Tucson after making accomplishments.

Aritza Nunez, a senior in the Pueblo College Preparatory Academy, said, “I felt proud of the Hall of Fame inductees because in learning their stories because they made me realize that even throughout all their hardships and challenges, they were still able to be successful despite facing adversity.”

Another senior in the Pueblo College Preparatory Academy, Paola Salazar, said, “I was moved by the inductees at the Hall of Fame ceremony—their stories and struggles and how they were able to persevere and still accomplish their goals and be successful in their own ways.”

She added, “I will take those inspirational speeches by this year’s inductees with me into my own college career and persevere as they have.”

Congratulations to our new Pueblo Hall of Fame inductees (in alphabetical order):

Manuel A. Amado (Class of 1981), Jody A. Corrales (Class of 1999), Dr. Evangline M. Ortiz- Dowling (Class of 1987), Dr. Jose Ignacio Duran (Class of 1974), Dr. Frank L Rincon (Class of 1963), Dr. Rogelio Samorano (Class of 1995), Juan Soto (Class of 1972), Larry D. Stark (Class of 1983), Edward G. Trejo (Class of 1959) and Rudy Valenzuela (Class of 1979).

Former Principal, Mariachi Aztlan Teacher Visits Pueblo

By Emely Villanueva & Jose Jovel

Mr. Richard Carranza with current Mariachi Aztlan.

Mr. Richard Carranza, Pueblo High School’s principal from 2002 to 2004, visited his alma mater on Tuesday, Aug. 29, spending most of the morning with current mariachi teacher Mr. John Contreras and mariachi students.

Carranza graduated from PHS in 1984 and returned to Pueblo, becoming a social studies and mariachi teacher for many years before becoming an administrator.

“I love Pueblo,” Carranza said, “and I’m glad to be back to visit. I grew up a few blocks from Pueblo, so this wonderful place has always been my second home.”

Few know that Carranza created PHS’s mariachi program—at first, with just a few students and then dozens by the time he transitioned to administration, “graciously” leaving his mariachi program to Contreras, one of Carranza’s guitar students.

“I came up with the name ‘Mariachi Aztlan de Pueblo High School’,” Carranza said. “Before Southern Arizona became part of the United States, this region was known as ‘Aztlan’, so it made sense to name our mariachi group in honor of its original regional name. One of my colleagues, Ms. Estrella Gonzalez, agreed that would be a great name for PHS’s mariachi program.”

[In 1853, the United States purchased more than 30,000 square miles from Mexico, courtesy of U.S. diplomat James Gadsden, to ensure a safe southern railroad path across Arizona to the Pacific Coast in California.]

During his visit to Pueblo, Carranza was interviewed by Ms. Sarah Wilson’s radio students.

Carranza spoke with us about the founding of Mariachi Aztlan and its impact on Pueblo and our community.

“I created an entire [mariachi] program,” Carranza said. “I was fortunate that a very visionary principal, Mr. Richard Gastelum, approved my idea to proceed with mariachi. There was no curriculum, so I had my work cut out for me. We had no instruments at first, but that changed quickly as the program expanded.”

After leaving Pueblo in 2004, Carranza became the Northwest Region superintendent for the Clark County School District in Las Vegas, Nev., and then served the San Francisco Unified School District as superintendent.

In 2016, Carranza moved to Houston, Tex., where he became the superintendent of the Houston Independent School District until 2018, when he was hired as New York City Schools Chancellor.

Carranza was inducted into the Mariachi Hall of Fame of the Tucson International Mariachi Conference in 2016—creating the first music curriculum-based program in the Tucson Unified School District.

“I’m amazed at all the improvements at Pueblo since the last time I visited, and I hope the improvements continue,” Carranza said. “I’ve always been proud of Pueblo—as a student, teacher, and administrator. I will visit Pueblo every time I come back to Tucson.”

He and his wife now live in San Antonio, Tex.

Class Of ’16 Student Returns As Teacher

By Moises Hernandez 

Lucero Ramirez

Despite the unusual circumstances of this school year—teaching online for the foreseeable future—Pueblo High School still has its share of new teachers and staff, including Ms. Lucero Ramirez, who is teaching freshman English. 

Ramirez, who said that she would rather teach in person than online because students could do more activities in the classroom, said that she will make the most out of ZOOM sessions. 

“It’s been very stressful teaching online,” Ramirez said. “It’s very complicated, but I am getting the hang of it.” 

Ramirez is happy to return to Pueblo because it’s her alma mater. She graduated in 2016, just four years ago, and said that even after she graduated, she didn’t want to leave. 

“It’s good to be back home and being the teacher this time,” she said. 

She added that she chose to become an English teacher because of her positive experiences in her own high school English classes. 

“I loved writing in high school,” Ramirez said, “and I want to share that love with students.” 

She added, “Ms. [Kelly] Crane [who retired from Pueblo several years ago] inspired me to become an English teacher because she was always understanding, patient and thoughtful. She really took the time to coach and mentor me. I really loved going to her class every day. 

Ramirez said that she is happy to have chosen education as a career, but she said that she wishes public education would invest more money and time to have more resources to address students’ emotional and mental issues. 

“I think that a student’s overall well-being is a critical factor in their academic success. I think we would start seeing more enthusiasm for learning from our students.” 

Online or back in the classroom, Ramirez said that she is very enthusiastic about beginning her teaching career at Pueblo.

Hundreds Of Warriors Inspired By ‘Bill’

by Jacquelyn Gutierrez

“Bill” The Movie

On Tuesday, Jan. 14, nearly 300 Pueblo High School students crammed into six buses and traveled to downtown Tucson’s magnificently renovated Fox Theater to view the premiere of Bill, a play-turned-movie recalling the much celebrated life of Mr. Bill De La Rosa, a class of 2012 graduate, whose academic and young career accolades rival some of the most successful people in the United States.

For many Pueblo students, this trip was more than a 10-minute bus ride to downtown Tucson; it was an opportunity to be inspired by their fellow Warrior.

Sophomore Xavier Carassco said, “I really like how the movie portrayed Bill as not being happy with the way he was living and how he changed his life to make it amazing. He added, “Bill shows that there are no excuses.”

De La Rosa was present at the Fox Theatre– as this was his first peak at the film. He gladly greeted many students from several schools at this event. Also, TUSD School Board members and prominent local leaders were eager to support the success of De La Rosa.

The Lapan Foundation leaders were present as well and spoke about how their organization helps students become engaged in their education. When De La Rosa was a sophomore, he became a mentor to middle school students and helped guide them to successful paths in high school—leading to collegiate successes.

All of the children who acted in Bill are members of the Lapan Foundation. They are part of the group’s Theater Club, and for the past year or so, they have been preparing this film.

Senior Danielle Rojas was one of those Lapan Foundation members that played a small role in the film.

“It was really cool to be a part of the movie, Bill,” said Rojas, “and re-enacting these parts of Bill’s life helped me become more understanding of the circumstances of those around me and to become more accepting.”

This trip would not have been possible without three weeks of careful and meticulous planning from Pueblo counselor Dr. Teresa Toro, who also recalls De La Rosa in his early high school years at Pueblo. In the movie, there is a brief scene depicting De La Rosa speaking with a counselor.

“Bill is definitely a role model for the Latino community,” Toro said. “This movie was more than just a movie about Bill De La Rosa—it’s a story about resiliency and beating the odds.”

Pueblo Student’s Life Inspires Film

Bill De La Rosa

By Mariel Ponce

It’s not every day that a Pueblo High School student is celebrated in a play/film, but that’s exactly what Bill does—recounting the accomplishments and tragedies in the young 25-year-old life of Mr. Bill De La Rosa, a Class of 2012 graduate.

After a run as a play in local theaters, Bill has been made into a feature film and will premiere at the Fox Theater on Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2020.

“The whole thing [my life being turned into a movie] is very humbling, and I originally had no idea that my life was being celebrated publicly,” De La Rosa said.

He added that the film touches on his successes and traumas in life before and since graduating from Pueblo almost eight years ago as his class’ valedictorian—including his numerous scholarships totaling more than $500,000. De La Rosa attended Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine, and Oxford University in England, earning two master’s degrees in criminal justice and immigration studies.

“I wish I could say I was finished with school, but I’m not,” De La Rosa said. He plans to pursue a law degree “back East” next summer, either at Yale University in New Haven, Conn. or Harvard University in Cambridge, Mass.

De La Rosa also shared his tragedies in his young life, including the deportation of his mother to Mexico in 2009 when he was a sophomore at Pueblo. Two years later in 2011, his father suffered a stroke, and De La Rosa was able to see his mother on a “temporary humanitarian parole” status. He saw her again in the summer of 2018 when his father suffered a fatal stroke.

“If all goes well, my mother will back in the United States next June [2020],” De La Rosa said, hoping that immigration lawyers will expedite the process.

For now, De La Rosa said he is staying in Tucson and spending time with his family, including his brother Bobby (a freshman at Pueblo) and his sister Naomi, who is currently a University of Arizona student.

As for the film, Bill, De La Rosa said, “I’m still very humbled that I have inspired a movie about my life.” He paused and added, “I want everybody to know that if I can do it, they can do it.”