February-March 2015 Risley Post

February/March 2015                                                                 Volume 2, Issue 6


15 Risley Musical Scholars Perform in
All City Honor Band

In February, Risley had 14 students chosen to participate in the All City Honor Band. They had two night practices at Heaton, and an all-day practice at East High School. The concert was Tuesday, February 10th at 7:00 pm at East High School and was a huge success.

Congratulations to these students:  

Shawna Ashlock-Arellano (8th)

Star Daily (7th)

Ashley Barajas (7th)

Jaered Esquibel (8th)

Alex Pacheco (7th)

Alonso Herrera-Paez (7th)

Chloe Peat (8th)

Bertina Arellano (8th)

Cidonia Ponce (7th)

Destiny Saiz-Jaramillo (7th)

Jonathan Aragon (8th)

David Martinez (8th)

Kyran Thurmand (8th)

Lorraine Vallejos (8th)



Two Risley Scholars Demonstrate Academic Excellence

8th graders, Kyran Thurmand and Diego Martinez both earned straight A’s and a 4.0 grade point average for the 2nd quarter.  We are very proud of these two Risley scholars for demonstrating excellence in all of their classes.  Congratulations and keep up the good work!


Parent Involvement Corner 

On February 5th, Risley hosted two parent events, the first was parent-teacher conferences for our 6th-8th grade students, and the second was a school of choice night for our incoming 5th grade students.  Conferences were held in individual classrooms, while the 5th grade meeting was held in our library. We are proud of all our students and their parents and are looking forward to getting to know everyone who will join our Risley family next year!


Featured Teachers and Staff

Ms. Brandy Guasta - Language and Literature

I was born here in Pueblo, but have been traveling for the better part of thirteen years. I went to Pitts Middle School. I graduated from Centennial High School, and then went to Manhattan College in New York. I majored in English and minored in Education. I became a teacher because I have a desire to share my knowledge and enthusiasm for learning with young people.

I am also a mother of four children, and I want to be able to have a job that allows me to share their schedule. I starting teaching in 2006, and then took a break to stay home with my children while they were little. My family is my life! My husband and I have been married for nine years. We grew up here in Pueblo, and actually lived on the same block. We have been a military (Army) family for the last decade. I have four children ages 7, 5, 3, and 18 months. My children make me incredibly happy. They are all four so different, and yet make quite the little team.

When I am not teaching or raising my family, I am coaching soccer. I am the U12 Competitive Ranger Soccer Coach. I am still very active and play soccer in a number of Adult Leagues throughout the year. Ms. Garcia and I actually won our COED 3v3 league this past summer. I also enjoy writing, drawing, and thrift store shopping. I have traveled all over in the United States. I have also visited Canada and Mexico. I used to drive cross country from Colorado to New York State twice a year. All four of my children have been born in a different state: Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina, and Colorado. I grew up on the East Coast, before moving back to Colorado in third grade.

My favorite thing about Risley is the people. The teachers and faculty have been so welcoming and helpful. They care about what they do and work effortlessly to support the students and each other. Likewise, I have enjoyed getting to know and work with all of my students. I have high hopes and expectations for myself, my students, and my loved ones. I think half the battle is maintaining a positive outlook in life. Not everything is in our control. We can, however, work hard to control how we react to events, people, and situations. Working hard, maintaining a positive attitude, and showing compassion are the three things that I hope to instill in those around me.

PRIDE Leadership Sponsors Kindness Week

In February, Risley’s student council, PRIDE Leadership, and Ms. Smalley sponsored a kindness week that included affirmations, a writing contest, an art contest, selling Valentine’s Day cards and a Valentine’s Day Dance. The week was a lot of fun. Grizzly even delivered the cards to classrooms all over the school. Geovanni Valdez won the art contest and Lael Vigil won the writing contest with two poems. (See below) Each winner received prizes from Ms. Smalley. Congratulations to both girls!


By Lael Vigil

Kindness is all you need to keep your life nice and neat; kindness gives you a smile you’ve worn ever since you were born; kindness is like a warm light to keep your heart ever so bright; I love kindness, do you? if so I’ll be kind too

Love All Around

by Lael Vigil

Love love all around to put that frown upside down

Love love will make you care for all your loved ones everywhere

Love love can lift your spirits so high that you can feel yourself touch the sky

Love is like meeting someone you just met until you kiss that someone underneath the sunset

Love is like a tool to make your heart ever so full 



Risley Scholars Win Big at Annual Science Fair

Congratulations to Ms. Yvonne Lanning-6th grade science teacher and Science Fair sponsor, and to each of our Risley scholars who participated in the science fair in early February. Four projects were entered and ALL four won.

The students also participated in the regional competition in early March. Melany Adame did very well at regionals and qualified to compete at the State Science Fair this coming April in Fort Collins, CO. Congratulations Melany!!!!

Globe Trotters
Submitted by Ms. Dady

At our first Globe Trotters Society event the student members went to the Asian Market on 8th Street. Later they enjoyed three different Thai courses including noodles, rice, and curry dishes! After watching a film on Thailand and looking at picture books about the country, the members had the unique opportunity of meeting someone from Thailand! It was an awesome event and everyone left very full.

2015 Valentine’s Day Royalty Nominees

6th Grade Prince and Princess nominees:
Demi Archuleta, Lily Klein, Analicia Hernandez, Keisha Romero, Yesenia Venzor
Emiliano Bojorquez, Alex Hudson-Vigil, Joaquin Salazar, Isaac Stockwell, D’Andre Tafoya

7th Grade Prince and Princess nominees:
Mariah Garcia, Julissa Hernandez, Aaliyah Mata, Cidonia Ponce, Destiny Saiz Jaramillo
Julio Castaneda, Jesse Chavez, Eduardo Loya Armendariz, Jesus Molina, Jose Unzueta Martinez

8th Grade King and Queen nominees:
Mikayla Duran, Kayla Lopez, Ashley Madrid Trujillo, Nelisa Palma
Isaiah Gallegos, Patrick Gonzales, David Martinez, Kyran Thurmand


Featured Teachers and Staff

Ms. Sabrina Gonzales - Math


Ms. Gonzales was born and raised in Pueblo. She went to Corwin Middle School and Central High School. “Go Wildcats!!!” Ms. Gonzales started college at Adams State in Alamosa. While at Adams, she completed the courses for her math degree. She transferred to CSU-Pueblo where she got her teaching license. Ms. Gonzales wanted to become a teacher because she enjoys helping people. She wanted to teach math because it is such a beautiful subject and can be found anywhere you live. This is Ms. Gonzales second year teaching.

Her parents live in Pueblo. She has three older brothers and they are a huge part of her life. Two of her brothers are in the United States Marines Corps. Ms. Gonzales’  favorite hobbies are walking her dog, Luka, listening to music, and searching for cool stuff on Pinterest.  Ms. Gonzales has traveled to New Mexico to see family, California to watch her brothers graduate from boot camp, and Nebraska for a math conference as an undergraduate.

Ms. Gonzales’ favorite thing about Risley is how awesome her students are! One of Ms. Gonzales goals is to earn a Master’s degree in Math Education. One of her favorite quotes was in the movie Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium and it said, “ Your life is an occasion. Rise to it.”   

Mrs. Dawn Johnson, IB Coordinator

I was born in Portsmouth, Virginia because my father was in the Navy. I went to Warner Robins Jr. High and then Warner Robins Sr. High school in Georgia and began my college journey at Houston Vocational School, earning a certificate in Accounting. I followed that with Macon Jr. College and an Associate Degree in Business Management. I returned to college 10 years later at Lock Haven University in Pennsylvania where I earned a degree with a major in Elementary Education and a Minor in Special Education. Finally, seven years ago, I finished my Master’s Degree in Educational Leadership from Adams State University, earning my principal’s license. My journey to college took longer than those who enter right after High School, but I was determined to make a better life for myself and my family through education.

I became a teacher out of my love for children and through the difficult time my son had in school. Initially, I wanted to become a CPA and work for a big corporation but as my son grew older, he was struggling more and more in school. After working with the schools and counselors all the way into Middle School to try and help my son, I had an opportunity to go back to college and I decided to go into education so that I could help other struggling students just like him. This is my 17th year in education. I completed 12 years in the classroom, then 1 yr. as a Literacy Coordinator, 2 yrs. as an Instructional Coach, and am now in my 2nd year as the IB Coordinator.

My father was in the Navy for 8 years and then the Air Force for 4 years as an Air Traffic Controller. We moved every year for the first 12 years of my life until we ended up in Georgia. I have been married for 29 years and we have a blended family of 5 children (1 is mine and 4 are his). I also have 5 grandchildren.

My favorite hobbies are reading a great novel, watching old movies, and enjoying the outdoors through hunting and camping. Because I am a “military brat” I travelled a lot as a child, which also gave me a love of adventure! By the time I was 12, I had been to 12 different states, including Hawaii, Washington State, South Dakota, and New York State. As an adult, I have been to Mexico, Germany, and Honduras along with several more states along the East Coast and in the South West.

My favorite thing about this school is the creative side of our students. I love the arts and I have seen so much talent in our students from singing and dancing, drawing and sculpting, to comedy and reporting. I am always amazed at the things our students are blessed with.

My message to students is to continue on the path to excellence. I love this quote “If you are NOT WILLING to learn, no one can help you. If you are DETERMINED to learn, no one can stop you!” This is from an anonymous author, but it says so much about making the choice to be determined. I am a product of making that choice in my life and I feel so fulfilled because of it!

Risley Bear Survey of the Month…..

The Risley Post staff took a few minutes and asked some of our students what their New Year’s resolution is this year….

Chloe Peat-To get better grades

Orlandis Villa-To finish school with good grades

Shaniaeashia- To get better grades and stay fit.

Brandon Gallegos- make healthier choices

Chyanne Pollock– To eat healthy this year.

Karen Castillo- To be happy

Kayla Lopez– To get good grades

Marisa Grimaldo– To be awesome

Sharon Guerra-To help other people

Selina Gonzales– To be more mature and responsible

Dallen Horn– To get straight A’s