Pueblo Hosts Spirit Council Conference

by Katherin Rivera Ochoa & Neveah Sandoval

Pueblo Student Council

On Monday, Nov. 1, Pueblo High School at last had the opportunity to show hundreds of other Student Council students from Tucson and several Southern Arizona towns that we could successfully organize and host a well-orchestrated event.

Student Council members from nearly two dozen Tucson high schools and even small towns participated in the Southern Arizona Spirit Conference, an event that Pueblo has been wanting to host for several years but denied the opportunity because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“[Health] precautions were still in place,” said Pueblo’s Student Council president, senior Antonio Vega, “but everything went smoothly.”

Still, Vega said that the event was a lot of work; Student Council advisor, Mr. Gregory Obregon, agrees.

“I helped to delegate and support Student Council throughout the process,” Obregon said. “There was a lot of organizational responsibilities to take care of—contacting a lot of schools in the region and ensuring that we were prepared for as many as 900 students.”

In the end, more than 600 students from more than a dozen schools attended, a number that still impressed Obregon. A few schools canceled their trip to Pueblo for various reasons—mostly because of transportation and COVID-19 issues.

“We completely started from scratch,” said President Vega, “but we pulled it off, and every school got to boast their school spirit and to collaborate with other Student Councils and share success stories. If I had to evaluate the event, I would give it thumbs up—definitely a huge success.”

Senior class president Anitza Ramirez was also very instrumental in making this event a reality.

“We students were all a little nervous about hosting such a huge event,” Ramirez said, “but judging by the turnout from other schools and by the cheers of each school, this was definitely a success that we all can be proud of hosting. There was some real bonding going on, and that was definitely one of our objectives.”

Ramirez added, “I am so proud of all of our Pueblo students and Mr. Obregon for making this conference so memorable and successful—especially in the short amount of time that we had to organize everything.”

A group of classic car enthusiasts also showcased their automobiles—including vintage Oldsmobiles, Cadillacs and trucks.

Snacks, candy and water were available to all students—much of which was paid for by the Arizona Association of Student Councils.

“I’m continuously impressed with the dedication of our Student Body president, Antonio Vega,” Obregon said. “He is one of the hardest workers I have ever had the honor of having in Student Council. He was super dependable and took charge of everyone working.”

He added, “The senior class president, Anitza [Ramirez] also has such amazing ideas! She is definitely gifted in the creativity department. She has a demeanor that was perfect for emceeing duties at this spirit conference.”

Student Recruits Warriors for ‘Sunrise High School’

Dorothy Pallanes

By Emily Gastelum

Last week, junior (class of 2021) Dorothy Pallanes attended a youth group in Philadelphia, PA, focusing on improving the environment, and now that she has returned to Tucson, she declared that she is prepared to recruit Pueblo students to join her plight to become more Earth-friendly.

“I felt at home when I met others like me [in Philadelphia] who support such an important cause,” Pallanes said. “I felt like all four days were spent well—learning more about the perils of CO2.”

Recently, Pallanes helped co-found a group called “Sunrise High School”, a collaboration of other adolescent supporters of this movement. She encourages other students at high school to become more environmentally sensitive.

“Wake up [students], the world needs our help,” Pallanes said.

She added that she plans to voice her opinions during school lunch in the coming weeks, attend more environmental conferences and continue to inspire her Warriors to march downtown on Wednesday, April 22, Earth Day.

“We all live on the same planet,” Pallanes said. “We all need to unite. Global warming is no longer a political joke. It’s not funny at all. Scientists are telling us that we have until 2030 to stop wasting the planet. After that, there will be irrevocable environmental consequences.”

Mariachi Aztlan De Pueblo Psyches-Up For Conference

By Jacquelyn Gutierrez

Pueblo High School’s 17 members of Mariachi Aztlán will be participating in this year’s Tucson International Mariachi Conference (TIMC) later this month and hopefully bringing home an impressive fifth consecutive first place.

The TIMC is a prestigious event that includes participants from mariachi groups all over the country, including world renowned Mariachi Vargas, Mariachi Nuevo Tecalitlan, and this year, Mariachi Sol De Mexico is coming to Tucson from Los Angeles.

Closer to home, Pueblo Mariachi Aztlán member Carmen Membrila, a sophomore, said, “We’re very hopeful in winning for the fifth time this year. We have a very good set list, so the whole Mariachi group and I are very excited.”

This Conference is held at Casino Del Sol for three days—from April 25 through April 28. The Mariachi’s vary in ages—from as young as elementary-aged students to high school.

Pueblo mariachi teacher Mr. John Contreras said, “We’ve been working long hours during and after school. This [conference] is our main focus right now, so I wish us the best of luck.”

Practicing for a couple months now, Mariachi Aztlán has been preparing to keep up the number one record. For the five seniors in this year’s program, they are hoping for another victorious placing.

“Unfortunately this will be one of my last conferences,” said senior Liam Membrila, “but we have been working hard and playing the songs over and over, so I’m confident about how we do at this year’s conference.”

Mariachi Club president Destiny Olea, a senior who has been in the club since her sophomore year, said, “Between now and the conference, our group needs to perfect our set list enough for us to compete—as well as to remember to have fun and not stress.”

“Regardless of the new members this year, our mariachi group is just as dedicated as ever,” Olea said. “Our passion and our originality are definitely assets to our program.”

She added that the group does more than just play mariachi music. Earlier this year, Pueblo’s mariachi group raised approximately $5,000 for school children victimized by Hurricane Harvey in the Houston, Texas area by performing with other local mariachi groups.

Students Learn Valuable Lessons At DECA Conference

By Iram Arce and Daniel Cantu

On Sunday, March 1, six Pueblo Students attended the DECA [Distributive Education Careers of America] Conference at the Phoenix Convention Center, competing in events among 2,000 other students from all around the state.

Also known as CTSO [Career Technical Student Organization], DECA is part of marketing—giving students an opportunity to learn business skills and compete with others in various activities.

Mr. Pete Pederson, Pueblo’s digital printing (and yearbook) instructor, was a judge for one of the DECA contests that involved students having to apply for an entrepreneurial business proposal. Pederson said that Pueblo students did not compete in this event.

“All contests were scenario-based,” Pederson said. “Students had to play their part and exemplify business etiquette and business savviness.”

Mina Van Gorder, President of the DECA chapter at Pueblo, attended the competition for the second time—this year with more experience and preparation.

“Last year, I had no idea what I was doing,” Van Gorder said. “Now I had more experience on what to expect from the competitions.”

Junior Daniella Contreras admitted that she was really nervous in front of people during the competition, but was able to confront her fears and succeed.

“I was about to have a breakdown, but luckily Mina [Van Gorder] was there to help me out,” Contreras said.

After the competitions students enjoyed the award ceremony—and this is when our Warriors found out that they would not advance to the next round.

“Although we didn’t win, we met lots of new people and gained much more experience on how to talk professionally, making us effective leaders,” Contreras said. “Learning how to be an effective leader is important—not just at school but in ‘real’ life.”

The advisor/sponsor for DECA, Dr. Maria Bicknell, explained that students were very successful raising money for this trip through numerous events and student participation.

Bicknell said, “I’ve been to many of these conferences, and I never get tired of them. I have a never-ending passion to help our students grow and to learn to be leaders as well as critical thinkers. I really want them to succeed in life.”

Students Attend Camp, Learn Leadership Skills

By Julie Harrison and Cynthia Rojas

Pueblo SkillsUSA Students attend Camp

Pueblo Magnet High School’s SkillsUSA 10 club members and its two advisors attended the 2014 SkillsUSA leadership training camp in Williams, AZ, for three days, Nov. 12-14.

One of the primary objectives of this trip was to train SkillsUSA members to build leadership skills and to unite the group through a multitude of activities during the three-day event.

“The trip was very helpful—not only for me personally but for the entire group as well,” said Jesus Alvarez, a senior. He added, “We were able to bring back ice-breaking techniques and learn new ways to become effective leaders.”

During their trip, SkillsUSA members networked with other SkillsUSA groups and programs across the state, and in the process, they learned their own strengths and weaknesses as well as communication skills between their own members and other groups.

When the students arrived, they had the opportunity to set up their cabin rooms. Then, they had a chance to socialize with other students until opening session that evening. At this session, students listened to a key-note speaker who engaged them in ice-breaking activities. Dinner followed this session, and then students were divided into six regional meetings.

A dodge ball tournament, which was hosted and organized by one of the Tucson schools (Canyon Del Oro), followed the meetings, and Pueblo’s team advanced to the semi-final tournament.

The next day, the students participated in various classes that provided them with a multitude of leadership activities and trainings.

Advisor Pete Pederson, who also teaches graphic arts and the yearbook, said, “As an advisor, I also was able to gain knowledge of how to incorporate my students’ talents and their individuality into the classroom. This camp helped me with altering my curriculum in a way that built a community and develop student leadership.”

Pederson added that he noticed that members who attended this camp were already exemplifying better and stronger leadership qualities upon their return to Pueblo.

Ms. Marie Little, the other SkillsUSA advisor, said, “I picked up materials in leadership and personal responsibility that can be integrated in automotive skills and utilized by myself and my students in the delivery of instruction.”

Leonardo Serrano, a senior, said, “When we got back from this trip, we decided to plan a new lesson with Ms. [Marie] Little. We participated in ice-breakers, and gained a lot of knowledge about each other.” He added, “This trip and all of the activities that we did during those days really brought us together while helping us students to become better leaders.”

Dr. Andrew Lettes Wins National Biotechnology Award

Dr. Mayim Bialik & Dr. Andrew Lettes

Pueblo Magnet High School science teacher Dr. Andrew Lettes received the Ron Mardigian Memorial Biotechnology Explorer Award, as part of the National Science Teachers Association (NTSA) 2012 Teacher Awards Program.

Lettes has brought biotechnology into the classroom for over ten of his eighteen years as a teacher. When TUSD’s Career and Technical Education Program decided to offer a bioscience curriculum, Lettes was one of the first teachers onboard. At the time, he was teaching an AP Biology class but only six students were enrolled. He wanted to go beyond traditional topics to get more students engaged in science, particularly those students who might not see themselves as “scientists.”

“I noticed that the students who were enthusiastic about heart dissections were even more enthusiastic about DNA fingerprinting,” Lettes recalls. “Biotechnology jobs are on the rise in Tucson and I want to prepare my students for those jobs; so I developed a Biotechnology curriculum.”

The Biotechnology Explorer Award recognizes teachers who have made biotechnology learning accessible to students and Lettes’ curriculum has done just that. Pueblo serves a predominantly low-income Hispanic population – a population that is typically underrepresented in science, engineering, and technology fields.

“This program opens up doors to careers in science that students didn’t realize had been closed to them,” Lettes noted. “Students that were not interested in upper level science classes before are now lining up to take Biotechnology.”

There are currently 105 students enrolled in the program with 140 interested in enrolling next year.

Dr. Lettes’ former students have gone on to pursue degrees in neuroscience, molecular biology, and science education. Students who have gone on to pursue degrees in other areas have said that Lettes’ class provided them with a strong foundation for their college science course requirements, and for the overall expectation of college studies.

As the recipient of the Biotechnology Explorer Award, Lettes received a $250 monetary gift, a $500 certificate for Bio-Rad products for his classroom, and a trip to attend the NSTA National Conference on Science Education in Indianapolis last month. Interesting tidbit: While at the conference, Lettes had the opportunity, among other things, to meet and talk science with television actress Mayim Bialik of The Big Bang Theory, who holds a Ph.D. in neuroscience both on TV and in real life. Bialik and Lettes both received their doctorates from UCLA.

For more information on Career and Technical Education Programs offered in TUSD, visit the Career and Technical Education Program Web site.

Courtesy of TUSD1.org