November 2014 Risley Post

The Risley Post

Military Veterans Honored

On Monday, November 10th, military veterans from each branch of the United States Armed Forces, were honored in a school-wide assembly at Risley.  The event was sponsored and organized by long-time faculty member, Mrs. Linda Garcia.  In addition to the entire Risley staff and student body, Superintendent Dr. Constance Jones, city councilwoman Eva Montoya, and numerous veterans were in attendance. Principal Macaluso opened the ceremony with the Pledge of Allegiance and a welcome speech. 

The guest speaker was Pueblo’s District Attorney, United States Air Force Colonel Jeff Chostner (retired) who shared an inspirational message about the origins and true meaning of Veteran’s Day. He also talked about the many sacrifices that the men and women who serve in our military have made in the past, and continue to make every day.  He went on to say that it is because of our veterans that each of us enjoy the freedoms that we have in the United States today.

East High School’s R.O.T. C. Color Guard presented the flags.   The Risley choir, directed by Mr. Matt Kouba, performed the Star Spangled Banner, America the Beautiful, and My Country Tis of Thee.  Mrs. Dawn Johnson provided a video, set to Toby Keith’s American Soldier, which was a beautiful tribute to our nation’s troops and the sacrifices they make every single day. Mrs. Garcia presented each of the veterans in attendance with a certificate of appreciation for their service and read aloud the names of many veterans who are no longer with us, and honored them for their service and sacrifice.  The assembly was followed by a reception in the cafeteria for the veterans and their families who were in attendance.


As the Temperature Drops the Risk of Frostbite Increases.

Submitted by Officer Jason Smith

As we all know the temperatures during the last couple of weeks were on a regular basis below 32 degrees Fahrenheit or below freezing in the mornings and evenings.  Here are a few simple rules to keep kids safe as they brave the cold. 

* Dressing in layers is better than just wearing one heavy article of clothing.  This allows you to take a layer of clothing off as temperatures rise.  Dressing in layers also traps warm air between these layers keeping the person warm. 

* Always wear hats and gloves when out in the cold weather; the biggest proportions of body heat are lost through the head and hands.

* If clothing gets wet remove as soon as possible and put dry clothes back on. 

* When Temperatures get below freezing, limit time outside to 30 minutes or less.

* Remember to drink plenty of water even during cold weather.  Cold weather studies show that dehydration increases during this time because it is usually associated with hot temperatures.   

Signs of frostbite include reddening of the skin, pale skin, burning, numbness, or tingling.  If you see these signs do not use warm water or rub the affected area.  Doctors suggest using a dry or warm towel to cover the area then contact your local medical provider. 

Keep in mind that wind causes the actual temperate to be lower.   

Parents should keep all this in mind for how their kids get to and from school, whether that is walking, riding the bus or getting a ride. 

“Education is the most Powerful Weapon which you can use to change the World” – Nelson Mandela


Featured Teachers & Staff


Mr. Matt Kouba -  Music Director

I was born in Pueblo at St. Mary Corwin Hospital.  I attended Hellbeck Elementary, Pitts Middle School and graduated from Central High School. I earned my Bachelors Degree from Colorado State University-Pueblo and my Masters Degree from University of Colorado at Colorado Springs.

I wanted to become a teacher because my grandmother, mom, and uncles were all teachers. My mom was an elementary music teacher for thirty four years in Pueblo. Also, I won a full-ride music scholarship for Piano, which helped my decision to become a teacher.  I started my teaching career at Risley fourteen years ago.

 I have a wife and we have been married fifteen and a half years. We dated for eight years before we got married.  We have three daughters who are 6, 3, and 5 months old. My six year-old daughter is an excellent singer. Both daughters are also in dance lessons.

In my free time I enjoy fly fishing, building hot-rods, performing music (solo/rock bands), and  farming.  I have traveled to California, Mexico, Arizona, New Mexico, Oregon, Nebraska, South Dakota, Iowa, Texas, Oklahoma, Kentucky, Missouri, Kansas, Illinois, Florida.

My favorite things about our school are the Risley PRIDE and the band.  We are very proud of our school and community and our band has a long-standing tradition of excellence and winning.  We are going for our sixth straight 1st place award at the Apple Blossom Parade in Canon City this school year and we are going to strive for higher scores in concert band and jazz band competitions.


Mr. Andrew Cura - P.E. and Health

Mr. Cura was born in San Antonio, Texas to Andres and Blanca Lilia Cura.  His parents and their families were migrant workers so they traveled to mostly Texas, Colorado, and New Mexico before settling in Fort Collins, Colorado.  They would work in  the towns of Greeley, Serverance, Ault, and Windsor all located in  the Northern part of Colorado.

He went to Lincoln Lancers Middle School and his high school was Pourde High School, home of the Impalas in Fort Collins, Colorado. He graduated from the University of Southern Colorado located here in Pueblo.  His major was Kinesiology (PE)  with a minor in Coaching and Officiating.  He earned a Masters Degree from Adams State College in Alamosa with a major in Language, Literacy, and Culture. 

He decided to become a teacher because he was influenced by so many goodhearted teachers and some of them he looked up to as father figures.  He said he was always told that someone like him could benefit people and he believed it! This is his 16th year of teaching here in Pueblo, Colorado.  His parents divorced when he was seven years old and his mother, Blanca, inspired him to work hard and to do for others.  She never complained about how hard it was to raise 5 children on her own.  I have two older sisters,  Lilia and Aurora and two younger brothers John and Nieves.  He also has a number of nephews and nieces.  He’s been married for 20 years to Kim Beltran Cura and they have two children.  Paloma Blanca Cura who is 13, and Andres Ginobili Cura who is 9 years old.

Some of his favorite hobbies include playing tennis, golf, basketball and coaching his children’s athletic teams.  He also likes to BBQ, watch ESPN and cheer for the Spurs, GO SPURS GO!   He has traveled to Texas, Mexico, Canada,  New Mexico,  Arizona, California,  Utah, Nevada, and Oklahoma.

His favorite thing about our school is the passion.  He says, “If we are all willing to work and be open to see it in our students and parents, we can be unreal!”  His hopes for the future are to have some of our former students start an alumni website, and also to have one of his students participate in the Olympics because he would be there.  He went on to say, “Furthermore,  it would be cool have a student of mine replace me here when I am ready to hang it up!!   I would also like to teach and coach my 9 year old boy here at Risley! And lastly,  LOOK UP,  GET UP,  DON’T EVER GIVE UP!!”


Ms. Michelle Smalley—Art

  I was born in San Diego, CA and moved around a lot during my elementary years. My mom moved us to the Midwest thinking that we would have a better childhood there and we bounced around from Iowa and Minnesota before we settled in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.  I consider Sioux Falls my hometown because I went to Whittier Middle School and Washington High School there.  I also went to Kilian Community College in Sioux Falls before transferring to the University of Northern Colorado (UNC). I chose UNC because art education was recognized as a single major there whereas colleges in South Dakota did not. 

While working my way through college one of my jobs was at an after school program and I was in charge of an arts and crafts table. I fell in love with my job and the kids I worked with and decided then and there that I wanted to be an art teacher. I continued working in after school programs and summer camps when I moved to Colorado as well to support myself throughout my college career. I moved to Pueblo to be closer to my boyfriend and this will be my second year at Risley after graduating college.  Everyone in my family still lives in South Dakota but I keep in touch with them through Facebook, skyping and phone calls.


In my free time I definitely like to create artwork of my own, read awesome books Mrs. Olson recommends to me, hula hooping, going to hot yoga classes, cooking, and I always love to search out or create fun cool lesson plans for my students. I haven't traveled many places but I have been to Austin and Dallas, Texas, Florida, Keystone, CO, and Minneapolis, MN, which is a really cool city if you have never been there.


My favorite thing about working at Risley is inspiring the students with cool ideas and supplies, and it's even better when the students inspire me in my artwork at home! My hopes and dreams for the future are to one day be recognized for all the hard work I do, to enjoy a long and fruitful career in education, to buy a home of my own, and to get married to my boyfriend Daniel Cole, ONE DAY. If I could say only one thing to my students I would take a quote from a famous artist by the name of Faith RingGold, "If One Can, Anyone Can, All You Gotta Do Is Try".


Students Enjoy Fun With Art During Intercession

Submitted by Ms. Michelle Smalley


During intercession, Ms. Smalley’s art class learned about the heroes of Pueblo like Drew Dix, Carl Sitter, and Jerry Murphy. These men were recipients of the Medal of Honor, which is the highest military award one can receive. Students  compared themselves to the heroes using a Venn diagram and then designed their own medals using copper.

They also learned how to make helmets using a cardboard armature and paper mache. They were inspired by the heroes of Pueblo, but they made their helmets unique and creative. Some students made army helmets and some made panda heads or crowns, while others made Samurai warrior helmets. They had a lot of fun!

Join Risley PRIDE Leadership Today!

Ms. Smalley is facilitating PRIDE Leadership this year.  It is open to all students.  Students need to have good grades (no D's or F's) and no office referrals. This is Risley’s student government and no experience is required.  You just need to have a good attitude and a commitment to improve our school.

Meetings will be in the mornings, before school once a month with the PBIS team and during lunch or after school as needed. After school meetings will be announced at least a week ahead of time. The PRIDE Leadership students will help plan dances with the PBIS committee and help to organize school events like spirit days, an IB parent night, or a kindness week. They will also help fund raise for the school and promote things like box tops for education.

If you are interested in a fun club, please stop by Room 205 and see Ms. Smalley today!


Come Join Art Club

Submitted by Ms. Michelle Smalley

Art Club is an open studio this year with different materials set out each week. Art club members this year can create freely with the materials available and there will be an end of year art sale and show to  showcase all their hard work as well as to fund raise for next year's art club.

Art club is held every Wednesday from 4:00-5:30. Students need to meet in room 141 first to sign in and to receive a snack.  Then at 4:00, Ms. Smalley walks all the art club members to the studio in room #205. Remember art club is an open studio this year so you can sign up at any time to start coming on Wednesdays.

If you can't make it every Wednesday or if you need to leave before 5:30, that's alright too, you would just mark the time on the sign out sheet….BUT you need to know that when art club is invited to participate in other things, the invitations are for the "regulars", or students who come almost every Wednesday to the club. Already, the art club has been invited to two field trips this year. One trip was to the Sangre de Cristo Arts Center and the other is going to be a field trip to the Denver Art Museum!

So come join us!    Be smart, choose art!!


Music Notes 

Submitted by Music Director, 

Mr. Matt Kouba

The Holiday season is a busy time for the music department. There are multiple events that our musical groups perform for.

Our Risley Choir, which is made up of three different classes, will be singing for at least three events. They perform at the Jingle Mingle for the Pueblo Chieftain at the Marriot Convention Center. They are also performing for the Pueblo Country Club in December. Finally, we have our Annual Risley Winter Concert on December 18th.

The Winter Concert will also include the Concert Band, Jazz Band, and Beginning Band.

All Advanced Band students auditioned for All-City Band this month. It is a competitive audition with all of the other area middle schools. We had 15 students make the Honor Band.  Congratulations to:

Star Daily, Rebecca Davis, Ashley Barajas, Shawna Arellano, David Martinez, Kyran Thurmond, Destiny Jaramillo, Jonathan Aragon,  Eucevio Garcia, Lorraine Vallejos, Cidonia Ponce, Bertina Arellano, Chloe Peat, Alex Pacheco, and Jaered Esquibel.


Featured Teachers & Staff


Mr. Cesar Carrillo - Spanish

Mr. Carrillo was born in Medellin, Colombia. After his twins were born, his wife wanted to move back to Pueblo. He went to Epiphany Catholic Middle School in San Francisco, California and Lake Howell High School in Orlando, Florida. He later attended Florida International University in Miami and majored in Spanish.

He wanted to become a teacher because he enjoys working with kids and sharing his love of learning with them. Mr. Carrillo has been teaching for nine years now. His family consists of his wife, Clarissa who he has been married to for 8 years. They met at Disney World in Orlando, Florida. They have twins, a boy named Carson and a girl named Cristabelle.  They will  turn four in February of next year.

Some of his favorite hobbies are running, reading books about history, and watching the Atlanta Braves and Orlando Magic on television. Some places he has traveled to are Hawaii, New York, Missouri, Rhode Island, and Maryland.  His favorite thing about Risley is the teachers.  Risley has the best teachers he has ever worked with. They care about  their students and each other. He also feels that Risley’s leadership is second to none. His goal for the future is to be the best Spanish teacher in Pueblo and to also help our students reach their full potential.


Mr. Mark Gaebler– Design

Ancestry and Family: We came from the Balkans as slaves during the Reformation and ended up in what is now Quebec. After the British took Canada form the French, some 200 years later, the Family moved to what is now Nebraska to farm. In the 1930's my father went to the University of Chicago where he met my mother who was an art student. The rest of the family moved to Chicago just before WWII and sold the family farm to Father Flanagan - The site is now Boys Town. During the war my father obtained several of his college degrees as superintendent of the giant Rail Road Yard called "the hub" which was one of the only two main shipping points across the country at that time. Near war's end he was made a captain in the navy to rebuild rail roads in Okinawa and Japan but was later deferred and returned to his job. He spent until the late 1970's with the company rising to VP of Accounting then retired with my mother and joined all my sisters who moved to Florida where they both lived until they died in their early hundreds.

I am the youngest of six children and the only one to go to and finish college as my family, until my father got promoted in the early 70's, lived as lower working class. I moved to Colorado after eight years in the Army, met married and had two children with my wife of 32 years - Susan. She worked hard to obtain two MA's and 4 BA's and is now a teacher at Irving Elementary. Our oldest boy earned two BA's in Film Editing and Animation and is currently a Tech at Corwin and our youngest is in middle school at PAA and is learning the violin and playing with the school orchestra.


Book Fair-Coming Soon!

Join us in the Risley Media Center for this year’s exciting   Scholastic Book Fair!!!

There will be hundreds of awesome titles available as well as school supplies, posters, and much more...Just in time for the holidays.

Dates: December 8th through 17th

Open 1st through 6th hours (with a pass or as a whole class with your teacher) and also open after school until 4:15 every day!