As Pueblo High School students walked the halls and climbed the stairs near the end of the first quarter, they were met with an unexpected block on their treks to classes.
The main hallway and stairways leading to it were closed and stayed closed until the end of the quarter. PHS administrators had been considering this idea for a while due in part to some of the violent, chaotic events at Cholla and Tucson High.
One day after second lunch ended, a “mob” started with students throwing water bottles around. Admin then decided to implement the closure of the main entrance.
“It [discipline problems] was [were] becoming a real safety concern,” said Principal Frank Rosthenhausler.
For some monitors, the closure made their jobs more challenging with students trying to sneak into the main hallway from the main entrance doors.
Security monitor Ms. Nellie Rivera said, “If the kids didn’t throw water bottles, then the hallway wouldn’t be shut down. Students suffer with the consequences of their bad actions.”
Mr. Simon Arriola, PHS’s Dean of Students, said, “The closure is only effective if the students realize they should not throw water bottles at each other.”
Many students had negative opinions on the hallway closing.
“It honestly sucked, and I didn’t like going around, I was late to all my classes,” said Kaz Detwiler, a sophomore.
Malo Anaya, a senior, believes admin’s decision wasn’t effective. “I think way more people were hanging out upstairs or on the stairs.”
Rosthenhausler said he didn’t like closing the hallways but said, “It was effective in removing what I thought was a dangerous situation.”
After a week of fall break, students were welcomed to the main hall and stairs being opened again.
A majority of PHS students took this return to normalcy positively.
“If I had my way, I would hire four more monitors to help with discipline problems at Pueblo High School,” said Ms. Joanna Medina, one of two monitors hired in 2021.
Specifically, Medina said that she would hire more male monitors to help balance the ratio between male and female security personnel.
“Female monitors are not allowed to enter the boys’ bathrooms without knocking first to inform them,” Medina said, “and by that time, bad behavior is missed.”
Medina knows exactly what it feels like to be in charge over hundreds of young people. She was a correctional officer and counselor for criminally troubled girls at the Gila River Detention Center near Sacaton, Ariz., in Pinal County, north of Tucson.
“My job is definitely easier here at Pueblo than at a detention center,” Medina said. “However, our students at Pueblo really need to follow the rules better, listen to authority, and take their learning more seriously. They also really, really need to get to class on time. Finally, I wish that a lot of girls would learn to dress better and not so revealing.”
Medina said that if she were an administrator, she would hire more monitors to enforce the rules—especially a few more male monitors.
Despite her challenges since being hired last January, Medina said that she is starting to feel the warmth of the Pueblo High School community.
“I really like working with the other monitors,” she said. “They all have their own distinct personalities, and all of our differences is what makes us strong and united.”
Medina said that she hopes that students start taking her and the other monitors more seriously as the first semester comes to a near-end.
“Most of our students are great,” she said, “but it only takes a few bad apples to tarnish that greatness.”
As Pueblo marches well into the second quarter, and November is upon us, the weather is at last cooling off. It seems that for many, summer lasted longer than usual this year. Unfortunately, for many students and teachers, it felt like “summer” insidethe classroom as well for much of the first quarter.
During summer break, the
air conditioning systems are shut down to save money. However, when several
teachers returned to this new school year, they discovered that their
classrooms were hot; and they stayed hot sometimes for weeks well into late
Marketing teacher Dr.
Maria Bicknell, located in the Tech Building, is one of those teachers sweltering
in extremely uncomfortable conditions.
“I tried to be positive in
this hot classroom, but it was hard to manage at times,” Bicknell said. “There
were some days I felt sick when I left Pueblo at the end of the day—like I was
going to throw up.”
Bicknell’s neighbor and
another Tech Building teacher, English and journalism teacher for the past 28
years at Pueblo, Mr. Rana Medhi, said, “Our administrators and district
engineers need to ensure that we teachers and our students are comfortable on
the first day of school. There’s no excuse for hot classrooms year after year.
Students cannot learn in 92-degree classrooms, and old teachers can’t tolerate
the heat anymore.” He paused and added, “It seems to me that we educators
should feel confident about returning to a new school year with everything
working and having comfortable teaching environments.”
Medhi added that he was
fortunate that he had to teach elsewhere for just two weeks; some teachers
weren’t so lucky…
Mr. Valentino Martin,
Pueblo’s auto shop teacher—and his students—suffered in the heat since from the
beginning of the school year. He and his classroom had to be relocated to the
Special Projects Room, which was very inconvenient for his curriculum, although
students still learned about auto shop safety and other issues until students
were finally able to return to T-9 when the air conditioning was repaired.
Then, on Aug. 23, the
A/C stopped working again, and Martin and his students were relocated again.
Another Tech Building
teacher, photography teacher Ms. Emma Tarazon-Oetting, also had to be relocated
to other locations while air conditioning unit was repaired.
Other non-Tech Building
classrooms were also excessively hot during the first quarter across campus,
and several teachers had to be relocated until the air conditioning was
David Montaño said that before students and teachers returned for the new
school, all of the air conditioning units were working, but a major
thunderstorm just before school started disrupted several of the A/C units.
“Based on the age of
some of these A/C units, repairs are bound to be needed,” Montaño said.
However, summer did end
at last, which alleviated teachers and students in classrooms that still had
inadequate air conditioning.
Many other environments suffered
as well. Even though the weight room may boast air, the room is cooled only by
a swamp cooler and big fans.
Just the opposite
occurred in many classrooms as fall began in late September—classrooms
experiencing frigid temperatures.
Junior Sarahi Perez said, “There are some days when the AVID classroom was downright Arctic, and so was [science teacher] Ms. Amaro’s classroom. The AVID classroom is either freezing or hot—it’s never normal in there. It seems that it’s never a healthy environment in which to learn.”
sophomore Dezarae Valenzuela, said that the Student Council room [Mr. Obregon’s
classroom] is very cold. I’d rather it be cold than hot, but sometimes you need
a thick blanket to stay warm.”
Junior Angel Leeth said
that in her math class, taught by Ms. Rhesa Olsen, she sometimes has to borrow
her teacher’s blankets, which she keeps in her classroom.
“It’s very difficult to
concentrate in her frigid classroom,” Leeth said. “It’s so cold, I fall
The AC system in the
main building is controlled and set by TUSD at 76 degrees, but the question
remains: Why were the temperatures in some classrooms and the library 59
degrees or colder?
Pueblo has just one
engineer, Mr. Robert Fuentes, a 1997 Pueblo graduate, who has been employed for
the past 14 years; however, for the past 10 years, he has been the only engineer
He explained that the
new equipment to maintain Pueblo’s cooling and heating systems are working with
an old 1980’s pneumatic system. In other words, two different systems are
trying to work together, often unsuccessfully.
“I like what I do,”
Fuentes said, “but it’s frustrating maintaining an entire school by myself most
of the time.” He added, “I have to do what I have to do to make classrooms feel
comfortable for our students and teachers.”
He paused and added, “This
school needs to prioritize repairs on its cooling system.”
has been a lot of controversy regarding the new tardy and attendance policy at
Pueblo this new school year, but early on, a lot of people have expressed their
Thus far, administrators have not lessened the penalty for being late. Tardy lines from primarily during first period, and sometimes this line is excessively long—sometimes as long as 100 feet. Students have to stand in long, hot lines until they reach the attendance counter where they receive “the go” to proceed to their first teachers.
one minute has been shaved from this year’s passing bell schedule. If students
are even remotely late to class, they must return to the attendance office for
would prefer students just going to class late and not having to come up here,”
said Pueblo’s attendance clerk, Ms. Angelica Aros. “It takes students forever
to sign in, and the lines can be very, very long—even now at the end of the
feels that the tardy policy is helpful and gets our students prepared for the
real world, but most students think that the tardy lines are unnecessary.
intention is to get our students to realize the importance of being on time,” said
Assistant Principal Steven Lopez. He does, however, acknowledge that five
minutes may not be sufficient time to get to class.
we need to put that one minute back into the schedule,” Lopez said. “We’re
still evaluating the situation.”
teacher Ms. Josephine Rincon said, “We teachers end up being the ‘bad guy’
because we try to get our students to be responsible and to get to class on
time. My job description is to grade and plan and to communicate with parents
about how their children are doing. This tardy policy turns me into a
disciplinarian, and when I have to be the disciplinarian that messes up the
pure relationship between student and teacher.”
students at Pueblo are opposed to this year’s strict tardy policy.
Marcopolo Moreno said, “It’s a waste of our time! Even if we’re a minute late,
we have to stand in line sometimes up to 40 minutes—sometimes the entire
period! Traffic is very bad in the mornings, and being late is not our fault
junior David Miramontes said, “The tardy policy is an irony—because in the end,
it makes us miss more class than necessary.”
Tardiness has historically been a big problem in our school, but we are improving on this situation despite long tardy lines. During the first week in December, there were 1,014 tardies reported in the attendance office. The next week, the number of tardies plummeted to 769 tardies, and more than 90% of these tardies were during the first period.
Pueblo’s faculty has addressed this problem and working hard to help decrease students’ tardies. As of mid-December, Behavior Interventionists have completed 258 interventions, 236 student conferences, 20 parent conferences, and two lunch restorations.
Ms. Angelica Aros, one of Pueblo’s attendance clerks said, “Yes, I believe Pueblo can make a change. These lines are not the solution. Students need to value their time at school more.”
Mr. Steve Lopez, assistance principal, affirmed that after students are tardy six times, parents will be called. If tardies persist, Lopez added that home they will be required to attend “Saturday School”.
Bryan Ramirez, a junior, said “I’ve had to go to lunch detention and it truly does help me get back on my feet and realize what am doing is wrong.”
Tardiness begins in the morning right after the first bell, at 8 a.m. 1st Period, and within 15 minutes, the tardy line serpentines from the attendance office to the outside—consisting sometimes as many as a hundred students. Some students express their frustration because they were just seconds late—and still not allowed in class. By the time they receive their tardy slip and go to class, students will have missed half—or more—of their class.
“The whole tardy policy is just a mess,” said student Ramirez. “Administration needs to come up with a more effective way to deal with students’ tardies. Being in long lines is not a solution—it’s just a band-aid to a big problem. I believe that students and teachers should come up with more innovative ways to deal with our tardies. I suppose that students themselves need to fix the tardy problem by just showing up to school on time.”
Administration said that they will continue to make improvements in the tardy policy. “So far, the tardiness problem has improved,” said Assistant Principal Steve Lopez. “We could always do better, however, and we’ll continue to make improvements as the discussion continues.”
On Wednesday, March 14, thousands of high schools across the United States participated in a “March For Our Lives” event to pay homage to the 17 shooting victims at Marjorie Stoneman-Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. on Feb. 14—as well as to express their strong opinions about a lack of stricter gun laws.
More than a thousand Warriors and many teachers and staff members participated in its own march at approximately 12:45 p.m. after the radio broadcast during sixth period.
Participants marched from their classrooms to the football field for approximately 17 minutes, one minute for each of the victims in Florida. Students then were directed to the bleachers to listen to students’ speeches.
First, Dr. Augustine Romero voiced his support for students’ opinions.
Twelve students spoke afterwards—each of them conveying their concerns regarding school safety and regulating the Second Amendment, either in short two or three-minute speeches or in the form of poems.
One of the dozen speakers, senior Brianna Metzler, said, “Because of my anxiety issues, giving this speech was a true testament to needing to express my voice. I took a chance [to publicly speak] and do not regret the words that I shared with nearly a thousand students. I’m proud of myself, and I really hope that I was heard.”
“I was shocked at how many students participated,” said senior Jorge Becerril, who was one of a few students instrumental in organizing this event. “I was equally impressed by the quality of the speeches from students who were very committed to expressing their voice about gun violence at our schools across the country.”
Another senior who co-organized this event, senior Liam Membrila, said, “I have always seen and felt the hunger for myself and my generation to be heard. I really want to show our representatives our reality—seeing the swarm of Pueblo students and faculty marching and chanting, ‘The people united shall never be divided!’ This inspired me to be even louder.”
Membrila added, “The greatest frustration, however, was a constant tug-of-war with the district about allowing local media on campus. It’s not as if our march were something disrespectful or about something illegal. We [students] were speaking about our safety. My generation will be the change.”
“Last minute changes were very frustrating,” Becerril said. “I was disappointed that our administrators did not allow Channel 4 [KVOA] on campus, but I suppose that they had their directives from the district office. It’s not like we were trying to riot or speak about something not legal. We students definitely had a mission and a purpose, and our diligence to have common sense gun laws hopefully lasts until there is change. I would think that our administrators would want the Pueblo community to have media coverage because what we students did was very positive.”
Student body president Kanani Salazar, a senior, was one of the two emcees at the event, introducing each speaker.
“The march was extremely organized,” Salazar said. “We heard many different voices that are seldom heard. I hope this isn’t the last of these marches because students need to be heard. Young people across the nation are the future of this country, and we will make positive changes, including common sense Second Amendment laws.”
Another emcee, senior Cynthia Amarillas, said, “I am very proud of the Pueblo community for uniting for a very valid cause. We will be the generation that changes gun laws in America. We all must register to vote so that our voices are heard. We will not abandon this movement. Enough is enough!”
Seniors Darlene Padilla and Bea Nevarez set up a table for 18-year-olds to register to vote, and many seniors took advantage of this opportunity.
Andrea Cuevas, a senior, and one of the hundreds of participants in the march, said, “Voting is essential to change this country’s policies. Young people—especially Hispanics—need to vote. This generation is creating this country’s future. If we don’t vote, then we become merely bystanders.”
TUSD School Board member Ms. Adelita Grijalva (and a former Pueblo graduate—from the Class of 1989) voiced how proud she was of Warriors’ spirit and their commitment to making positive changes.
At approximately 2 p.m., the march was officially over, and students returned to their classes feeling confident that they had made a difference in their community.
“Overall, Pueblo High School’s first march to pay homage to Florida’s shooting victims was undoubtedly very successful,” said Cynthia Amarillas. “Hopefully this march also showed administration that students are capable of organizing and implementing events that make a positive difference.”
Aerial Photos: Andrew Romero, a junior, under the supervision of teacher Mr. Ernesto Somoza.