December 2014 Risley Post

The Risley Post


Submitted by Mrs. Elaine Madrid

On Nov. 22nd, SRDA sponsored an annual community event in which volunteers support our elderly by raking yards in need of some TLC.  Risley represented with 6 student volunteers and three teachers.   Ms. Smalley, Ms. Celest and Mrs. Johnson and the students worked diligently on two of our East Side yards. Collectively, they loaded over 30 bags of trash!  After several hours of hard work, the entire team enjoyed a Nacho luncheon at the school for their generous efforts. Kudos to Brandon Gallegos, Mairsa Grimaldo, Lexie Beaver, David Martinez, Colton Davalos and Dominic Wilson! Congrats for demonstrating Risley Pride and showing awesome leadership from the East Side!!

PRIDE Leadership Elects New Student Body President

Risley students from each grade level who are in PRIDE Leadership voted a new student body president into office this month, 8th grader, David Martinez.  Marisa Grimaldo was also elected as Risley’s student body vice president.  Congratulations to them both!

Risley PRIDE is our school student government organization and is sponsored by Ms. Michelle Smalley.  All students from each grade level are welcome to attend.

If you would like to be part of Risley’s PRIDE Leadership organization, they meet every Tuesday after school from 4- 4:30 in Room 205.  Please see Ms. Smalley for more details.


Parent Involvement Corner 

Submitted by Mrs. Elaine Madrid

WE NEED BOX TOPS!   Did you know that every Box Top is worth a dime?  We challenge all students to remind "the cook" in your family to be on the look out for box tops. You can find them on cereal boxes and other kitchen products. The grade level that collects the most Box Tops by Valentines DayB0C will receive a special "sweet treat!"  Last year we raised $119.  I think we can beat that easily, don't you?  This extra money helps pay for food, decorations and prizes for many of our school events. Thank your parents for staying involved by supporting the Box Tops Program.


Risley Bears Demonstrate Academic Excellence

Many of our students this year are demonstrating academic excellence and showing their PRIDE the  Risley Way by earning a spot on the Honor Roll and Merit Roll.  We would like to give special recognition to three of our students who achieved the highest academic award for the quarter by earning an “A” in each of their classes, which calculates to a 4.0 grade point average.  These students demonstrated Perseverance, Discipline, and Excellence.

Congratulations to Makayla Bastian, Melany Adame, and Isaac Stockwell. 


AVID and Gear Up Students Have a Busy December!

Article by Gina Curtis—Photos Courtesy Tanya Gregory

On Tuesday, December 9th, Mrs. Gregory’s AVID and Mrs. Slade’s Gear Up students took a field trip to Denver to visit Metro State College.  Ms. Celest, and the counselors; Ms. Curtis and Ms. Montoya accompanied the group of 54 7th and 8th grade students.  While at Metro State the students were involved in the following activities: 

--Presentation about Metro State College by three current Metro State students.  Topics covered by the students were:  course and degree offerings at Metro, financial aid, sports, and a question and answer session with the Metro students.  Our Risley students were well prepared and able to answer the majority of the questions posed to them. 

--Scavenger hunt of the college campus.  Students were provided a campus map and fun questions about various buildings and locations around the campus.  A fun time was had by all groups. 

--After lunch, the entire group had the privilege of visiting the Denver Art Museum.  While there, small groups of students visited various exhibits of their choice and were provided a list of five challenges to photograph and return to teachers as a project. 

The trip to and from Denver was fun and the bus driver was excellent and returned the group safely back to Risley. 

Then on Monday, December 15th, students participated in an AVID/Gear Up Parent night here at Risley where over 200 parents and students attended.  It was a powerful evening coordinated by Mrs. Gregory, Mrs. Slade, and Mrs. Madrid.  Several other staff members also assisted that night and it was a huge success.  Parents, students, and staff in attendance enjoyed a nacho dinner while several great prizes were raffled off.


Music Notes


Mr. Matt Kouba—Director

December is a very busy time for our music department. Our Choir performs several times for various holiday events. Also, our bands will perform for Winter/Holiday events.

Our Choir performed at the Jingle Mingle, which is an event sponsored by the Pueblo Chieftain at the Convention Center.

The choir will perform at the Pueblo Country Club on December 13th for a Women Educators Organization.

Next, the Choir gets the privilege of singing for the Grand Opening for the new Lucero Library across the street. That event is Saturday, December 13th at 1:00pm.

All of our musical groups will perform on Risley’s Winter Concert here at the school. This concert is Thursday, December 18th at 7:00pm. This concert will feature; Beginning Band, Concert Band, Jazz Band, Beginning Choir, and Advanced Choir. The concert is free and everyone is encouraged to attend.

All of our classes will say goodbye to our student teacher Celeste Johnson. She has done a great job working with all of our Risley Students. She will be missed.


Featured Teachers & Staff


Ms. Lanning- 6th Grade Science

Ms. Lanning was born in Hutchinson, Kansas. A change of career brought her to Pueblo. She went to Haven Middle School, and Haven High School. She went to Colorado State University- Pueblo where she majored in science and minored in education. She became a teacher because teaching science is her passion. Ms. Lanning has been teaching for 5 years.

Her family consists of her two daughters Jennifer who is 31, and Sandy who is 21. She has one son-in-law named Tommy, who is married to Jennifer.  She also has two grandchildren. Levi is 2 years old and Kiley is 6 years old.

Ms. Lanning’s hobbies are science, hiking, camping, biking, and ice skating. She has traveled to various places throughout the United States. One thing she really likes about Risley is the students.  She also says that she likes the saying, “Once a bear always a bear. ( We are a family).”  When asked if she had a message for her students she replied, “I hope all my students win at the science fair. Stay positive every day and get excited about your life!”.


Mrs. Arellano—7th Grade Science


Mrs. Arellano was born in Pueblo.  She went to Roncalli Middle School and Central High School.  After high school she attended Colorado State University-Pueblo where she earned her Bachelor’s Degree with a major in Biology and a minor in Education.

She decided she wanted to become a teacher because she enjoys making a positive difference and having a positive influence on our youths’ lives.  She has been teaching for 5 years; all of which have been at Risley.

She is married to Mr. Arellano our 8th grade Social Studies teacher.  They have three daughters; Victoria, who is 8, Gracie, who is 5, and Gloriana, who is 2.  They also have a dog named King.

Mrs. Arellano loves spending time with her family and friends. She likes to dance and sing. She also loves going to the mountains and traveling.  She has been to Italy, Paris, New York City, Miami, Philadelphia, San Antonio, Seattle, and Las Vegas.

Her favorite thing about our school is who she gets to work with.  She says that the Risley staff is, “Amazing!”

She hopes to one day have the opportunity to live and teach in another country.  Her message to all our students is, “Never stop dreaming, and do everything you can to live your dream!”


Risley International Academy of Innovation Library Media Center

Open Monday-Thursday 8:00 –4:15 and Friday 8:00 - 1:30


It’s an exciting time in your school library!  The books purchased with the Laura Bush Foundation Grant are starting to arrive and there are some GREAT titles!  In January you will be able to check out these books and MANY more!

· The Vampire Diaries by L.J. Smith

· Cirque du Freak Novels 5-12 by Darren Shan

· The Blueford High Series by Anne Schraff and others

· The Vampire Academy Series by Richelle Mead

· The Divergent Trilogy by Veronica Roth

· The Immortals Series by Alysson Noel

· The Beautiful Creatures Series by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl

· Several romance and contemporary novels by Jodi Picoult and others by Sarah Dessen, V.C. Andrews, and Lauren Oliver

· Several sports themed novels by Mike Lupica

· We will also have series by Anthony Horowitz, James Patterson, P.C. Cast, and more than can be mentioned here.

Be sure to stop in the library and check out a book to read and check back in January for new ones being added EVERY day!







Risley Students Attend Lucero

Library Ribbon Cutting Ceremony

On December 9th several students from Mr. Arellano’s, Mr. Carrillo’s, and Ms. Dady’s classes attended the ribbon cutting ceremony for the brand new public library that is now open across the street from our school. Several local government leaders  and representatives from the Pueblo City County Library District spoke to a crowd of about 200.  Local veterans were present and East High School’s R.O.T.C. presented the Colors while a 21 gun salute was given in honor of all those who have served in our country’s military. 

The library will be open Monday through Thursday from 10 am to 7 pm and Friday and Saturday from 10 am to 6 pm.  It is closed Sundays and holidays.


Risley Choir Performs at Two Events

Saturday, December 13th was a busy day for Mr. Kouba and our choir.  They performed at the Pueblo Country Club for an educator association luncheon.   Then later that afternoon they performed at the Pueblo City County Library District’s Grand Opening Celebration of the Lucero Library across the street from Risley.  Congratulations to Mr. Kouba and all of the talented and dedicated choir students!!!  Great job showing your Risley PRIDE!

 Coat Drive

Risley’s PRIDE Leadership is hosting a holiday coat drive in partnership with Pueblo's Cooperative Care. Last year they helped over 8,000 people in need and this year our goal is 10,000. As of December 6th  they were halfway to their goal and Risley is excited to be joining their mission.  It fills our hearts with joy to be helping out our Pueblo neighbors, especially during the holidays.

If you’d like to donate a coat please contact Ms. Michelle Smalley at 549-7440.


  Christmas Challenge

                By Officer Jason Smith

It’s that time of year again! The day after Thanksgiving when you start seeing the Christmas lights go up on the house and the trees on passing cars. Every store you walk into has aisles filled with toys and Christmas decorations.  The newspaper is filled with Christmas ads and coupons for every store.  

Have you ever taken the time to think about what Christmas means to you, or to your family? Is it the gifts under the trees? Is it the lights on the house and in the windows? Or is it Stockings hanging in the living room? Or the shouts of Merry Christmas to those we tell around us?  Is this really what Christmas is all about?

Most people assume Christmas is always a happy time and there are some people who do not look forward to Christmas.  For some, Christmas could be a time of sorrow and stress.  They may not have the extra money to buy the presents their children and family ask for.  Some families may not get to see each other on Christmas because their jobs do not allow them too.  There are some that may be spending their first Christmas without a loved one.  

We often spend the entire month of December thinking of all the things we do not have. We make a list of all the things we want but necessarily do not need.  Do you ever sit and reflect on the things you already have?  Do you appreciate the things that your parents or family members give you throughout the entire year?

What is my Christmas challenge to you? I challenge all of you to focus on the things that you already have and not on the things you want. I challenge all of you to focus on giving to others and not so much on receiving. 

Happy Holidays to you and your family.   


Counselor’s Corner 

 Ms. Gina  Curtis & Ms. Michelle Montoya

 Be the Best YOU in 2015


The following tips can help you successfully

plan and achieve your New Year’s resolutions:

 Be specific. When thinking about goals, be as exact as possible. People who set specific goals are more likely to succeed. For example, instead of saying that you want to earn good grades, set a specific goal to earn all “B’s” or better (or whatever your goal is) .

 Put it in writing. Write down exactly what you want to achieve and post it in a place where you will see it everyday. This will help remind you of what you’re working toward. When you write, use positive terms.

 Set realistic goals. When you think about setting goals, make sure that they are within your reach. Be mindful of your schedule and other personal affairs. Remembering these important factors will help you set realistic goals. It’s unreasonable to expect to make a lot of big changes at the same time.

 Develop an action plan. Create a timeline with steps toward your goal. Set deadlines for each step and cross them off as you go. Sometimes just crossing things off and watching your list get smaller can give you a sense of accomplishment and help you stay motivated.

Believe in yourself. Stay positive about your progress. Share your goal with a friend and ask him to help keep your spirits up. To quote Henry Ford, “If you think you can or you can’t, you’re right.”

Be flexible. Keep in mind that setbacks can happen. Don't get discouraged and give up. Try again! Your hard work will pay off!

Ask for help. If you get stuck or need a little encouragement,don’t be afraid to talk about it. You might be surprised what kind of support people offer.

 Reward yourself. Acknowledge your achievements, even the small ones. Reaching a goal takes hard work and you should be proud of your efforts.

Having clear goals and a plan can bring your family together and help you be healthier all year. All positive changes—tiny or drastic—can improve your everyday life.

Make this New Year count and create a plan to follow through on your resolutions!


Featured Teachers & Staff

Mrs. Salinas– 8th Grade Science


Mrs. Salinas was born in Pueblo, Colorado. She went to Beulah Middle School and South High School. She later attended Colorado State University-Pueblo where she earned her Bachelor of Science degree with a major in Biology, and a minor in business.  She also has a masters in education. She has been teaching for 8 years. Mrs. Salinas wanted to become a teacher because she likes learning new things and sharing that knowledge with her students.

She also enjoys summer vacations spent with her family, which consists of her husband and two daughters. Mrs. Salinas has been married for 21 years to her husband Joel.  Her daughter Eryn, is 18 and a senior, honor student, and a member of the golf team at Rye High School.  Her other daughter Lauryn, is 16, a sophomore, honor student, and member of the volleyball team at Rye High School. 

Some of Mrs. Salinas’s hobbies are reading, watching The Walking Dead, and having fun with her kids. She has traveled to Jamaica, St. Thomas, Grand Turk, San Juan, Puerto Rico, Nassau, Bahamas, Florida, Texas and California. Her favorite thing about this school is the caring staff who help the students succeed. Her motivation message to students is, “You can succeed. You do not have to be the reputation. You can go to college and go on a cruise. You make the choice and you can succeed.” 

Mrs. Puffer- 6th Grade Language and Literature
Mrs. Puffer was born in Illinois.  Her husband’s job brought her to Pueblo.  She attended Verona Jr. High School and Biloxi Senior High School.  After moving to Colorado she attended Otero Jr. College and later she earned her Bachelor’s Degree at Adams State University in Alamosa.  

She decided to become a teacher because she said she had awesome teachers and she enjoys watching students learn how great they can be.  She is in her 19th year in education. She started as a teacher aide, then she was a substitute teacher before becoming a classroom teacher 8 years ago.

Mrs. Puffer and her husband, Rocky, have been married for 16 years.  They have three children.  Cara who is 20 and graduated from Pueblo West High School.  She is a junior at the University of Mississippi (“Ole Miss”) now.  Addison is a sophomore at Pueblo West High School and is 15 years old, and Adam is 13 and an 8th grader at Skyview Middle School.

In her free time Mrs. Puffer enjoys spending time with her kids and attending their sports events.  She likes to read, play games, especially trivia and card games.  She also enjoys travelling and has been all over the United States and Mexico. She is currently planning a trip to Ireland.

Her favorite thing about our school is the sense of family and community here.  She feels that everyone truly wants what is best for each student based on their individual needs. Her message to students is, “Never give up! Just because it doesn’t happen today, doesn’t mean it isn’t going to happen!  If you need something, ask, the worst you can be told is no!”