December 2013 Risley Post

The Risley Post

6th Graders Spreading Holiday Cheer to our Military Troops

Students in Mrs. Puffer’s reading classes were busy elves on November 22nd.  As a holiday activity all of her 6th grade students  wrote letters and created homemade Christmas cards for our military troops who are serving our country away from home this holiday season. Mehlia Ward, the manager of Starbucks on Eagleridge Blvd.,    offered to mail the cards for Mrs. Puffer so she jumped at the opportunity. In all, the 6th graders made 87 cards.  Mrs. Geri Lane provided envelopes, while Mrs. Melissa Geis and Mrs. Del Sandoval donated paper to help with supplies. The students were very excited to be part of something so giving, especially at this time of the year. The sixth grade class expressed their thanks to all the staff members for helping them to make this activity such a success.

 Math and Science Night

Sponsored by

Colorado State University-Pueblo

On November 19th, students from Colorado State University-Pueblo hosted a Title I math and science night here at Risley.  The university students set up twenty five stations that more than 150 Risley students and their families visited.  Students were able to view presentations and experiments  and learn things about math and science.  Our Risley math and science teachers really encouraged all of our students to come to this exciting event.   The university students did a fabulous job presenting to our kids and their families.  A pizza dinner was served and the night was a lot of fun and enjoyed by all who attended.    

Risley Choir Performs

Holiday Concerts at the Mariott

On December 11th and 13th the Risley choir, led by Director Matt Kouba performed holiday concerts for the Housing Authority Christmas Party and for the annual Jingle Mingle.  Songs performed included Holiday Romance, Let It Snow, Canon of the Bells, I Hear Bells, Feliz Navidad,  We Wish You a Merry Christmas and medley of Holly Jolly Christmas and Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer.  The performances were enjoyed by all who were in attendance.  Congratulations to Director Kouba and all of the Risley Choir Students.


Principal’s Principles

By Mrs. Charlotte     Macaluso

Recently, we learned of the passing of Nelson Mandela.  The South African activist and former president Nelson Mandela (1918-2013) helped bring an end to apartheid and has been a global advocate for human rights.  One of my favorite quotes from Nelson Mandela is as follows: 

 “No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.”

Nelson Mandela is clearly an example of someone who lived their life helping to create a better and more peaceful world.  At Risley, as we work toward implementation of the International Baccalaureate Middle Years Programme, we are focusing on the IB Learner Profile.  The IB learner profile consists of descriptors and attributes that define the kind of learner we want our Risley students to be. 

Nelson Mandela reminds us that developing the whole person and being internationally minded are important if we are to be leaders in our world.  Like Mandela, we can act with integrity and honesty, with a strong sense of fairness, justice and respect for the dignity of individuals, groups and communities.  Our Risley students take responsibility for their own actions and the consequences that accompany them. 

Wishing you a Merry Christmas and a wonderful New Year that is filled with love and happiness. 


Counseling Corner

Ms. Michelle Montoya

 Remembering Your Neighbor

In this joyous Christmas Season, It’s easy to get caught up between cooking and shopping, decorating and singing, wrapping and baking, all the while forgetting the true meaning of Christmas, which is to genuinely love and show compassion to those around you.  Whether it’s to the family in which you are being raised, your friends at school, or the lady who lives next door. Some people in our lives might need a little extra support during the holidays.  So I challenge you Risley Bears, to seek out those less fortunate than you.  Maybe someone in your circle has lost a loved one and Christmas is especially difficult.  Maybe a friend’s parent lost a job, and times are hard financially.   It may be that the holidays bring up old memories, that are hard for someone to deal with alone.  Whatever the need may be, just remember that you can make the difference.  By demonstrating one act of kindness, such as sending a card, making a phone call, or posting a pleasant thought, you could be the person who brightens someone’s day and makes the holidays significantly more joyful!  Be the caring bear I know you can be and spread the joy of Christmas this holiday season!!

Featured Teachers


Mrs. Rachel Cesario

Mrs.Cesario was born in  Pueblo and went to Freed Middle School and Centennial High School. She went to Colorado State University– Pueblo and earned a bachelor’s degree with a major in business and a minor in sociology. Her secondary degree is in Education. She wanted to be a teacher because she loves to learn and wanted to pass her love for learning on to students. She has been teaching since 2006. She’s been married for twenty-five years and has two children. She loves to read, garden, and travel. She has been to Canada, Mexico, all over the United States. Her favorite things about Risley are the students, the perseverance, and the staff. Her hope is that she leaves the world a better place.


Mrs. Linda Garcia

 Mrs. Garcia was born in Pueblo and she went to the old Risley Middle School and East High School. For college she went to University of Southern Colorado and her majors were Spanish and English, she also went to Adams state University and got her masters degree in Education. This is her nineteenth year  teaching.  She wanted to become a teacher because she loves working with kids. Her family consists of two married sons, two daughters-in-law, her husband and five grandchildren. Her favorite hobbies are spending time with family and friends, cooking, sharing memories, camping, and travelling. Over the years she and her husband have travelled to Germany, France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Italy, and Mexico. Her favorite things about Risley are the genuine passion of the staff and the students. Her motivational message is “Do your very best today, so you can be successful in high school. I love when former students come back and tell us that they’re doing well in high school.”


Mr. Andrew Cura

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 15th 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 almost 20 years to Kim Beltran Cura and they have two children.  Paloma Blanca Cura who is 12, and Andres Ginobili Cura who is 8 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 8 year old boy  here at Risley! And lastly,  LOOK UP,  GET UP,  DON’T EVER GIVE UP!!”

Mr. Jason Quintana

Mr. Quintana was born in Pueblo. He went to Pitts Middle School and Central High School. For college he went to CSU-P and majored in Biology and received a minor in Chemistry, he also has a masters degree in Secondary Education and in Special Education. Mr. Quintana became a teacher to make a difference in student’s lives. This is his sixth year teaching. His parents live here in Pueblo and they are both retired.  His older brother is an anesthesiologist in Wisconsin, and he has a girlfriend with 6 and 4 year old daughters.  His aunt, Mrs. Diana Quintana, works at Risley as well. He loves to hunt, fish, and play poker. He has been to California, Arizona, Florida, Wisconsin, Mexico, Las Vegas, and Country Jam. His favorite thing about Risley is the perseverance. “The road to success is always under construction.”


8th Graders Are Busy Basket Makers in Art Class

During Ms. Smalley’s basket weaving unit in art class, the 8th graders learned about unity as a principle of art. They also learned about how Native American cultures (specifically the Hopi and Navajo tribes) show unity in their artwork. Ms. Smalley says that different cultures can create unity by using consistent symbols in their artwork. They can also use harmonious colors like earth tones. She went on to say that unity is another of those hard-to-describe art terms but, when it's present, your eye and brain are pleased to see it. In class, Ms. Smalley talked with students about using similar colors to create unity on each of their baskets and also about how the materials and processes they use in basket making relate to the symbol they are trying to achieve on their basket. Savannah (pictured left) chose to use a cross as her cultural symbol and bright colors to show unity in her artwork. Keyora, another 8th grade student, used Bronco colors and spelled out Denver in the bottom of her basket to show unity in her artwork. Numerous other baskets were made and displayed for several days in the library for the "Bountiful Baskets" art show that included a closing ceremony the day before Thanksgiving break. Art prizes were given to Keyora and Savannah for coming to the closing ceremony and for demonstrating excellence and  perseverance in class.

Technology to Design

Submitted by Mr. Gaebler

Next semester, technology will be changing to design, which  is very apropos since design is easier to understand than technology. In design we do just that – we design brochures, layer images,  restaurant menus  and 3D models. The variety of programs available to use is as diverse as the subjects they can be used for. We have all the Microsoft programs such as Word, Excel, Power Point, Publisher and others, but unlike other middle schools, we have 3D and layer image programs like Pixlr Editor and  Sculptris. The potential to use all these design elements for integrating with other subjects is enormous and the potential to use them outside the classroom are equally large. Design with computer programs is a must in the modern working world and using them now will give all the students at Risley a real jump start toward being successful in their own future endeavors.


From the Assistant Principal’s Desk…

     Mrs. Amy Hausman

Happy Holidays students and parents! 

The end of the calendar year is fast approaching, and even though we are not yet half way through the school year, it is often seen as the end of the “traditional” first half of the school year. It is amazing how quickly the year has seemed to reach this point.  We have done a great deal of work at Risely International, but we have more to do!  Students are just finishing up their December benchmarks and midterm reports were recently sent home.  We need to continue to keep the focus on achievement and academics when we return in January.

We have already had a few “late start” days, and it is our hope that we will not have any more or any snow closure days for this year.  However, since it is only December, we cannot count on that.  Therefore, we need to make sure that we have current phone numbers for all of our students so that you receive the school messages, not only for weather but other important information.  In addition, the TV stations and local radio stations will announce a late start or no school day, so please make sure you are watching the news on those cold days!  You can also keep current by logging onto our district website: for information. 

I also wanted to remind parents and students that we start school at 8:00 a.m. each day and end at 3:45 p.m.  Students are to arrive to school no earlier than 7:45 as there is no one to supervise them before this time and leave school grounds by 3:55 p.m.  Please ensure you help us with this.

I hope everyone has a healthy, happy, and safe holiday season.

“Children are likely to live up to what you believe in them.”  --Lady Bird Johnson

 Security Spotlight

Submitted by Officer Jason Smith

 As the temperature Drops the Risk of Frostbite Increases….

As we all know the temperatures during the month of December 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 ruse.  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 proportion of body heat is lost through the head and the 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, and 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 temperature to be lower.

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

“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” - Nelson Mandela

Risley PRIDE Leadership

PRIDE Leadership is a club dedicated to leadership development for Risley students.  This includes weekly meetings, speakers, service learning, community service, and much more. All students are encouraged to be a part of this club because not only does PRIDE teach students how to be a successful leader, there are a ton of fun times, too!  Planning dances, spirit days, club parties, field trips, and fundraising are just a few of the fun times we have.  Keep your grades up (no D’s or F’s) and join Mrs. Garcia, Mrs. Cesario, and Risley’s leaders for a fun, learning experience!

A Page from Risley’s History…..

Submitted by Mrs. Karen Olson

This is my second year here at Risley and there are many things about being the librarian that I really enjoy, and one of them is having the opportunity to create an official archive of Risley’s history.  For the last year, I have been digitally scanning old photos and newspaper articles about Risley and former Risley students dating clear back to the 1920s when our school was first opened as Park Hill Junior High.  Working on the archive of Risley’s history is very rewarding and as future issues of the school paper are released, I hope to continue to share stories and photos from our past with you.

The picture above is from the Pueblo Star Journal and Sunday Chieftain dated March 6, 1955 and showcases the boys basketball team from Risley that won the city championship that year with their names listed below it. Take a minute to read through them and see if you recognize anyone. I had Mr. Carrillo, our Spanish teacher, look at it and he found Joe Solis, his wife’s grandfather, who is pictured second from the left in the top row. 

You can help with the Risley History Project!  If you or anyone in your family has old memorabilia from Risley such as yearbooks, t-shirts, cheerleading uniforms, newsletters, photos, etc., particularly anything from the 1950s to the 1980s, that they would like to donate to the Risley History Project, please have them contact me at 549-7449 or they can stop in the library to see me. 

I hope you enjoy the Risley history shared so far this year.  There is more to come and remember, you are the ones making Risley history today!