March-April 2014 Risley Post

The Risley Post
March-April 2014

2014 Science Fair

Every year our school district hosts a science fair.  This year two  of our Risley sixth grade students, Taya Adrian and Gabby Harmon participated in it. Taya was awarded a Pueblo City Participant and Gabby was a Participant and  she received 3rd Place allowing her to be Regional Qualified. Congratulations to these two outstanding Risley Bears and their teacher, Mrs. Lanning!  Thank you for showing your Risley PRIDE and representing our school!

Art Show

Congratulations to the following Risley students who participated in the 2014 District Art Show.

Zach Casey-Skull in Desert Oil, Pastel and Goo- Gone;  Nazareya Aguila-Blue Pit Container, Clay; Jose Unzueta-Abstract, Animated, Realistic, Colored Pencil; Danyka Humphrey-Secret Language, Construction Paper Crayons on Construction paper; Delilah Cortez-I am, Different Watercolor techniques and Sharpie; Alyza Zapien-Yarn Painting, Yarn and glue; Zoe Rodriguez-Video-game Design, Colored Pencil; Xavier Prosser-Autobiographical Map, Colored Pencil; Josiah Pacheco-Still Life, Chalk Pastel; Zach Arguijo- Mummy Tomb Container, Clay; Alexis Sprague-Stop the Bullying, Black and white Charcoal; Talia Encina-Cassette Painting, Tape Cassette film, pencil, glue; Talia Encina- Blue Flax,  Oil Pastel and Goo- Gone;  Marisa Grimaldo-Exaggerated Portrait, Acrylic paint; Pat Gonzales-Exaggerated Portrait with Value, Acrylic Paint; Jena Padilla-Murtle Spurge,Oil Pastel and Goo- Gone;  Lael Vigil-Towers in the Mist, Pixlar Editor Collage;   Mariah Garcia-Bridge to the Future, Pixlar Editor Collage;  Arriana Medina-Mystery of the Sea, Pixlar Editor Collage; . Michael Salazar-Cobra, Pixlar Editor Collage;  James McWatters- Under the Sea, Pixlar Editor Collage



From the Assistant Principal’s Desk…

Mrs. Amy Hausman                                                


Congratulations to Mrs. Olson!!  Because of her love of books and Risley, she applied for and received a $5000.00 grant to purchase new books for our library from the Laura Bush Foundation for America’s Libraries!  It took a great deal of hard work and dedication to be chosen to receive the funding that will enhance our library.  So, students, remember to thank Mrs. Olson; and one of the best ways to do that is: CHECK OUT AND READ THOSE BOOKS!!!

 On another note, I wanted to congratulate all of our students who have been working hard in class, staying focused on their academics, and continue to represent Risley with PRIDE.  There were a large number of students who received awards at our last awards assembly and my hope is that even more will be recognized for their academics for the final quarter.  It’s not too late to get that 4.0 jacket! 

 Much of the school year is behind us, and the weather is starting to turn warm.  With Spring, comes a desire to put school work and commitments on the back burner.  It’s tempting, but remember,  that the fourth quarter is a very important time of the year! We are not finished yet--we have several more weeks of school.  CMAS testing is just finishing, but we do still have SRI/SMI and Galileo Benchmark testing yet to come.  Also, every student is busy working on research papers for their Language Arts classes, so parents please encourage your student to work diligently on those as well as the rest of their coursework.  We will also be sending out mid-term report cards on May 12th or 13th .   

 There are a number of exciting activities planned for the end of the year such as a field day, yearbook signing, and we want all students to participate in them.  Be sure you keep your focus on academics and always ensure that your behavior allows you and others around you to continue to learn. 

 As the end of the school year rapidly approaches, I would like to recognize our staff at Risley International Academy for their dedication to our students! Day after day and year after year the opportunities our staff provide for students in and outside the school day are too numerous to mention,  but are certainly deserving of our appreciation.  So, when you have time, please take a moment to “AFFIRM A TEACHER”!

Mrs. Ramona LeFebre

 Hi my name is Ramona LeFebre, known to all the students as Ms. Ramona. I was born and raised in Pueblo, Colorado right here in the eastside not far from Nick’s Dairy Cream where we paid a nickel for an ice cream cone. Both of of my parents Flavio and Ercy Alcon raised me to be a respectful person. My dad was a steelworker for 40 years and my mom a stay at home wife.

 I attended Fountain Elementary School where the Quinto Sol Recreation Center is now. I remember walking home everyday for lunch and getting a dime from my dad to buy a soda at the laundry mate, what is now an automobile shop. The Junior High School I attended was the good old Risley, and proud of it. I would have to say that my most favorite memory of junior high was the food cooking in the basement and the smell would not let you concentrate, especially if you were real hungry!!! I studied real hard and received a GED from Southern Colorado University here in Pueblo.

 I am now a senior at Regis University. I am doing online classes and will graduate May of 2015 with a degree in Liberal Arts and a minor in elementary education. In the past I taught barbering and cosmetology. I still love the hair business and at times I will substitute at some of the hairdressing schools here in Pueblo. I also attended Pueblo Community College for a few courses. My career in the educational field began in the cafeteria as a food service worker at various schools in district #60. I then said to myself why am I doing this, when I can apply to work as a teacher assistant. I became an assistant for three years at Columbian Elementary School. I then became friends with the paraprofessionals in the special education department and I applied for one of those positions and got it, I worked in the special education and autistic program for 14 years at Irving Elementary School, the rest is history next year I will be a classroom teacher. I love the challenge that today’s youth gives us daily. Other educational places I have worked includes summer school programs at many schools, Catholic Charity Programs caring and teaching children of all ages.

I am married to Henry LeFebre; we have been married for 41 years. He is retired from the CF&I and plays the bugle for the Veterans Ritual Team. We have 2 very successful children. My son Henry is an assistant principal in Japan, married to Jami with one beautiful baby girl. My daughter Tina is a paraprofessional in the autistic program at Centennial High School, soon to be a teacher also.

My favorite hobbies are dancing, music, exercise and most of all, being creative in any way I can. I have traveled to many states, because of my husband being in the military for 10 years, but the most exciting was stopping in London. While in London we got to see the beautiful buildings all made of stone before flying to Germany. My son and I joined my husband in Germany; we lived there for three years. We visited many castles, General Patton’s headquarter, as well as other interesting buildings left from the war. The country was so beautiful and the food was awesome. Someday I hope to return for a visit. While in Germany, We got to visit the country of Austria and see all of the beautiful clear lakes.

 The most favorite things I like about Risley is the staff, they are so caring and helpful. They are always ready and willing to share their knowledge. I care about all the students, I also love watching them grow and spread their wings into mature young adults.  Finally my goal is to graduate with honors from Regis University and teach 6th grade language arts here at Risley. I hope to motivate all the students here at Risley into learning and have perseverance. Students NEVER GIVE UP! Like my inspiration Mr. Oreskovich says, ”Take Pride in Your Intelligence!”

Risley Has the BEST Teachers!!!

Congratulations to Mrs. Rachel Cesario, our 7th Grade Reading Teacher for being nominated to receive the Teacher of the Year Award through the Pueblo Hispanic Education Foundation.  She was recognized at a luncheon at the Latino Chamber of Commerce on Friday April 25th.


 Risley Art Club Creates Beautiful Mural

Submitted by Mrs. Charlotte Macaluso and Ms. Michelle Smalley

 Risley International Academy of Innovation has an art club that is painting a student designed mural in their stairwell. The school’s I.B. candidacy inspired the students to make a cohesive image that unites one school, one community, and one world. Bringing positive influences into the school has really brightened the stairwell and the school climate. The mural started as a pencil sketch on the wall in December.

The students had to write a paragraph to enter art club that explained why they wanted to join and what made them good team players. They were able to brainstorm and designed the entire mural with help from their teacher, Ms. Smalley, and our principal, Mrs. Macaluso. The mural includes symbols, subjects, and themes from Risley, Pueblo’s community and global contexts. At the bottom of the stairs the mural starts with the Risley’s mascot, Risley Grizzly, grasping a basketball.  There are paw prints leading the eye up to Pueblo’s Steel Mill and the Rawlings Library which represent our community here in Pueblo. They also included a low rider car that is driving to the Library and represents a common symbol they have in their community, but brings it into the school in a positive light. Many students at the middle school have family in car clubs and they chose images they are proud of to put on the mural. At the top of the stair well one world is represented with a globe, multicultural flags that also hang on the facade of the school, and children from around the world motioning to essential quotes that teachers use in the classroom.

This mural means a lot to the students because they have put so much work into this project. The mural also shows their school pride and their desire for Risley to have a better reputation. The teachers at Risley really wanted to encourage the students to do their best so we used a quote from Winnie the Pooh, where Christopher Robin told Pooh that “If ever there is tomorrow when we're not together. There is something you must always remember. You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think. But the most important thing is, even if we're apart. I'll always be with you.” Stronger, Braver, Smarter is written at the top of the mural to remind the kids that we will always believe in them.

The kids will add their names to the mural and leave their everlasting mark on the school for years to come. Parents involved will also have their signature represented on the mural. The students involved were Carlos Perez, Selena Aguila, Antonio Labato, Lorraine Vallejo, Jose Chavez, Dominic Wilson, Nazareya Aguila, David Martinez, Danyka Humphrey, Leo Hinojosa, Talia Encina, Charli Garcia, Angelica Aguilar- Salvador, and Marisa Grimaldo. Risley parent Manuel Perez also helped bring the Steel Mill to life and incorporated airbrushing techniques he uses on cars into the shadows on the mural. Many students have parents that also went to Risley and are making history with this mural for many generations to come.

Ms. Lora Medina

Ms. Medina was born in Pueblo, Colorado.  She went to Pitts Middle School and then Central High School. She attended Pueblo Community College and Adams State University. She wanted to become a teacher because she loves seeing the joy children get in their eyes when they learn something new. She has been teaching for one year. She has been married for 11 years.  She has 3 kids, ages  7, 6, and 2. Her favorite hobbies are reading, writing, playing outside with her husband, and going to Cripple Creek. She has been to Las Vegas, Nv., Minot ND, Miami, FL, San Diego, CA, Nebraska, Dallas TX, and Washington D.C. Her favorite thing about Risley is the family atmosphere. She hopes to achieve a fulltime career working at Pueblo City Schools.

Ms. Karen Gonzales

 Ms. Gonzales was born in Pueblo, Colorado. She went to Parochial School until 8th grade and Pueblo County High School until graduation. She became a paraprofessional because she loves children. She started working in 1986 and started at Risley in 1996. Her family is well rounded, educated, and living their life experiences very well. She has been to Mexico City, Italy, England, Spain, and France. Her favorite thing about Risley is the students. Her motivational message is, “Believe in yourself and stay in school!”


Mr. Will Robinson

I was born in Sheridan, Wyoming. I moved around as a kid and ended up in Boulder, Colorado for middle and high school. I met my wife in Fort Collins, Colorado while attending CSU. She’s from Pueblo and wanted to return to be close to her family.  I attended Southern Hills Middle School and Fairview High School in Boulder, Colorado. I attended CSU in Fort Collins and CSU-Global. I studied social sciences with an emphasis on criminology.

I decided to become a paraprofessional because I struggled in school and felt this was a good way to help others who are dealing with the same struggles now. I have worked in education for three and half years, all of it at Risley. My wife of ten years is a special education teacher in District 70. We are expecting our first child in August and we are very excited. I have one brother, a former Marine, who attends CSU in Fort Collins, and one sister, a banker, who lives in Denver. My parents live just outside of Boulder. My favorite books include Watership Down, Smilla’s Sense of Snow and Life of Pi.  

I have travelled to many states including New York, California, Arizona and New Mexico. I have also been to Australia, England, and Mexico.  I really like the students at Risley, there are some great personalities in our school. There are two things I would say to students. First, only you can achieve your dreams and goals. Nobody else will do the work for you. Next, always treat others with kindness because you never know what others are going through in their life right now.


Risley Represented at State

Spelling Bee

Congratulations to our very own 8th grade student, Abreann Trujillo for competing in the state spelling bee in Denver in March.  Abreann competed in the district spelling bee and earned a chance to compete at the state level.  Mrs. Dawn Johnson accompanied Abreann and some of her family to Denver.  We are all very proud of Abreann and her accomplishment!


Risley Girls JV Basketball Team Recognized on Big Screen at the Pepsi Center….


In March, our JV  Girls Basketball team took a trip to Denver with their coach to watch a Nuggets game at the Pepsi Center. While they were there they were congratulated for all in attendance to see via the big screen.

Congratulations to the JV team and the Varsity team for taking home both City Championships this year!!!! 


 A Page from Risley’s History…..

           by Mrs. Karen Olson

Most of us don’t spend a lot of time thinking about history, but I love history and when I came across this newspaper clipping in the Risley archives right before Spring Break, I decided to put it in this edition of the paper. I wanted to share it with you because it’s not just part of Risley’s history, it is also part of my family history.

The teacher who is seated at the desk in the photo is my grandmother, Mrs. Edith Frederick. She taught Social Studies at Risley Junior High School in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s.

This year, the Risley Post has interviewed staff members each month and asked them to tell the Risley community a little about themselves.  We have also documented daily life and special events at school all year in an effort to preserve this chapter of Risley’s history.  So rather than have an article about me in the Featured Teacher section of the paper I thought I would share this picture of my grandma and tell you a little about me here. 

I have lived in Pueblo all of my life. I went to Highland Park Elem., Roncalli Middle School, and South High School.  I earned my bachelor’s degree in History from CSU-Pueblo and my master’s degree in School Library from CU-Denver. I am married to my wonderful husband, Frank. We have 3 grown children. Our son Zakkary lives here in Pueblo with his wife and our 3 grandchildren. Our daughter, Sheena is in the U.S. Navy and stationed in San Diego, CA, and our youngest son, Randy is in the U.S. Air Force and lives with his wife Claire at Minot AFB in North Dakota.  All four of my grandparents were teachers and I have wanted to be a teacher my whole life. This is my 7th year as a teacher librarian, and my 2nd here at Risley.  I feel so honored to be part of this amazing school and to have the opportunity to work with the wonderful students, and staff  here.

Outside of school I keep busy taking care of my Grandma Ruth who turned 105 last October. I also love to spend time with my family, especially my grandchildren who are ages 4, 3, and 4 months.  Other things I love to do are bake (especially cookies!),  read, write stories, play the piano, and work in my gardens.  I have been to the ocean in California, New Jersey, and North Carolina.  I’ve also been to San Francisco,  New York City, the Grand Canyon, Georgia, and all over the South Western United States.  My favorite things about Risley are the students and the PRIDE they show every day, and the amazing teachers and staff members who are all dedicated to making a positive difference in the lives of young people.  I hope to be here at Risley for many, many years to come.  Risley has a bright future ahead of it.  I am so proud and feel so honored to be a part of it!

Don’t forget, YOU are the ones making Risley’s history today!


Ms. Jayme Benebides

Ms. Benebides was born in Long Beach, California.  Her family moved down here because her dad worked at the mill. She went to Risley and then to East. For college she went to PCC for History and Education, then to CSU-P for history and psychology and she is continuing her education at Grand Canyon University. The reason she wanted to become a paraprofessional is because she loved working with young adults, and she would love to be a teacher soon. She has worked in education for four years. In her family she has a husband of eight years and two boys. Her oldest son is six and her youngest son just turned four. She also has a yellow lab named Yoda. Ms. Benebides’ favorite hobbies are photography, traveling, skating, and volunteering.  She loves all types of music but her favorite artist is Tupac Shakur. Although she has never traveled outside of the United States she has been to 16 of the 50 states. Her favorite thing about Risley is “Once a bear always a bear”. Her message to the students is “Never give up! When something bad happens to you, you have three choices. Either let it destroy you, define you, or you can let strengthen you.”