January 2014 Risley Post

The Risley Post

January 2014

Volume 1, Issue 5


Message of Encouragement and Inspiration Given to Risley Students

On Friday, January 17th a distinguished group of successful Hispanic professionals visited our school. United States District Court Judge Christine Arguello, Colorado Supreme Court Disciplinary Judge William Lucero, Major Roberto Ramirez who is the Reserve, Chief Senior Trial Counsel for the United States Air Force, and Architect and Designer Justin Martinez all shared their inspirational stories, telling how they overcame poverty, discrimination, and other difficulties to become the successful professionals they are today.

Both Judge Lucero and Mr. Martinez are former Risley students and grew up on Pueblo’s East Side. Judge Lucero was a member of Risley’s football team and brought the team picture from 1962, when Risley was undefeated and unscored upon resulting in them winning the city championship that year.  Mr. Martinez has worked to design and raise funds to open libraries around the world, including the new Pueblo City Library scheduled to open across the street from Risley next year.  It will be named after Judge Lucero’s brother who died in the Vietnam War. Judge Arguello shared a message of hope and encouragement for students telling them to, “Never let anyone tell you that you can’t do something.”  Each of the other speakers also encouraged all of the students to never give up, to set goals, work hard to achieve them, and to make good choices for their futures.

Several students had the opportunity to be on stage and ask questions that the speakers answered.  The Pueblo Chieftain covered the event and published an article with photos in the January 18th newspaper.  It was a very rewarding experience for all those who were in attendance including some local city officials and other community members.    

The Seven Project Visits Risley

On January 13th students and staff at Risley gathered together in the cafetorium to take part in an exciting assembly presented by The Seven Project.  A group of motivational speakers shared their life experiences and encouraged students to make positive choices in their life so that they can have a successful future.  It was an inspiring, powerful hour with great music, some short films, and several fun activities that students and teachers took part in. 

Principal’s Principles

Mrs. Charlotte Macaluso

 Recently, members of our staff participated in training with a process called Capturing Kids Hearts - Process Champions.  This training allows our staff to enhance their skills in building relationships that promote success and build the self-esteem of our students.  One of the strategies used every day in each classroom is the sharing of “Good things” at the beginning of class.  This strategy promotes the leadership skill of positive thinking, allows students to share their interests, and sets a positive tone to the start of each class.  Recently, I have been using this strategy with my own children at home.  Parents try this strategy.  Ask your child to “Tell you something good……”.  Ask them how this strategy is being used at school.  This is just one way we are working towards building and maintaining a positive culture at our school.  We know that creating a positive school culture will help us to meet the challenge of helping all students learn at high levels. 

“If you have a child’s heart, you have his head.” – Flip Flippen


From the Assistant Principal’s Desk…By Mrs. Amy Hausman

Drug Sniffing Dogs Coming to Risley

Students, parents and guardians,


In an effort to continually improve student safety and maintain a focus on student achievement, we want to provide the best atmosphere possible for our students. There is no room for drugs in our schools if we are to provide the most conducive environment for learning. Therefore, Risley International Academy of Innovation will start conducting random and unannounced searches in our school using drug sniffing dogs.  You do not need to be concerned with the possibility of an aggressive dog being used for this purpose. The drug dogs have been highly trained to only sniff out drugs. They are not attack dogs. Your son or daughter’s physical well-being will be safe as far as the dogs are concerned.

The following are Drug Dog Protocols:

1.  School personnel will conduct all searches.

2.   A school administrator will accompany the drug dog and police officer at all times.  If there are any hits, a school administrator will be in charge of leading both the investigation and the search of the student following district policies.

3.  Any student, who is found with illegal drugs, will be disciplined according to district policies.  Administrators will be discrete and will escort any suspected student to the office to conduct any searches.

4.  The administration will chose where the dogs will search.  It will be random, and different areas will be searched each time the dogs are used at school.

5. The search could include: the parking lot, lockers, and classrooms.

6.  Students will not be searched by the dogs.  If the dogs enter the classroom, students will be asked to stand in one area of the classroom while the dogs sniff back packs and the classroom.

We have recently sent a school messenger and a letter went  home on Friday, January 24th with report cards regarding this.  Additional information regarding the searches may be found on the school website or you can call our main office at 549-7440.

Security Spotlight  

Submitted by Officer Jason Smith

  Marijuana: Who Is It Legal For?

With all the new laws taking effect January 1st, 2014 the one that keeps coming up is the new Legalization of Marijuana.  Marijuana became legal to buy for people aged 21 and over.  Colorado residence with a valid ID or driver’s license may purchase up to an ounce at a time and Out-of-State visitors can purchase a quarter ounce.  It is still illegal to transport marijuana; no matter the amount, out of state.  Denver International Airport has placards posted that it will be a $1000 fine for possession on airport grounds. 

The next question that comes up is where can people smoke marijuana?  The law states “It is Illegal to Consume Marijuana in Public”:   A Public Place as defined by the Pueblo Municipal Court is a place to which the public or a substantial number of the public has access, and includes but is not limited to highways, streets, sidewalks, transportation facilities, schools, places of amusement, parks, playgrounds and the common areas of public and private buildings, facilities and parking areas.

Having this definition in mind, the only place a person would be safe and legal to smoke marijuana is in the privacy of their own home or in the home of someone that allows it.  If someone lives in an apartment complex they would need to check with management on their rules and regulations.  

Let’s move to the effects of Marijuana on our younger generation; to which it is not legal for them to consume or possess. 

Do you really know what Marijuana is?

Marijuana is the most commonly used illegal drug in the U.S. It's what gets produced when someone takes the hemp plant and grounds up the leaves, stems, flowers, and seeds. The active ingredient in marijuana is a chemical called THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol), but it also contains over 400 other chemicals! It's usually brown, green, or grayish in color, and has a very noticeable smell. Marijuana is usually smoked and sometimes eaten.

What are its short-term effects?

Short-term effects of marijuana include problems with memory and learning, distorted perception (sights, sounds, time, touch), trouble with thinking and problem solving, loss of motor coordination, increased heart rate, and anxiety. A user may also experience dry mouth and throat.

What are its long-term effects?

Marijuana smoke contains some of the same cancer-causing compounds as tobacco, sometimes in higher concentrations. Studies show that someone who smokes five joints per week may be taking in as many cancer-causing chemicals as someone who smokes a full pack of cigarettes every day.

If a student in the State of Colorado is caught with drugs or alcohol 3 times within a 4 year time period that student can be expelled from all Colorado Schools for a period of 1 year.   Getting drug and alcohol convictions may also affect whether the State of Colorado assists with Financial Aid for College. 

 * Sources for this article  are on file in school library office.


Risley Jazz Band Performed 2nd Annual Jazz Festival

The Risley Jazz Band under the direction of MR. Matt Kouba performed at the 2nd Annual Jazz Festival at East High School on Monday, January 13th.  It was a fundraiser for the Pueblo Arts Alliance and was a resounding success.  Mrs. Macaluso attended and said, "...The Risley Jazz Band ROCKED the house!!! Congratulations to the Jazz Band, they represented our school and community well with their steallar performance."

Music Students from East High School Bring Holiday Cheer to Risley

On Friday, December 20th it was bitterly cold outside but all of the Risley students had a warm and cheerful holiday greeting as they entered the front doors of our school.  The East High School Caroling Winds Band, directed by Mr. Dan Wiley came and performed a variety of festive holiday tunes and Christmas Carols.   Members of our staff made their way to the lobby and joined in as the students gathered around and listened to the talented East High musicians.  Mr. Kouba was very happy to see so many of his former Risley students. It was a beautiful performance and got our day off to a great start!!  Our halls were filled with wonderful music and we hope they come back again in the near future.

Featured Teachers

Mrs. Dianne Vigil

I was born at Parkview Hospital on August 29 in Pueblo, Colorado.  I moved away from Pueblo for amny years then returned to be near my 86 year old parents. I went to Parkview Elementary, Risley Junior High, and I graduated from East High School.  I graduated from the University of Texas at San Antonio with a Bachelor of Arts in English.  My minor included classes in Mexican American Studies and Literature.

Why do I teach?  I would say I have a passion for learning.  Every opportunity to learn, whether it is graduate courses, professional development, or simply sitting in the classroom of one of my peers, inspires an challenges me to become a better educator.  Therefor, I teach.  I teach because I believe that education is the most priceless gift we can offer to another human being.  I teach because I want to inspire, motivate and challenge others to learn.  I have been teaching for twenty eight years.  I taught in a private institution of higher learning (collage age) for seventeen years.  I have taught for eleven years in public schools. I taught elementary bilingual education for two years and middle school for nine years.

My first husband, James, dies of a heart attack in 2006.  I was a widow for six years.  In 2012, I married Don Vigil, a wonderful man who has bless my life.  I am also blessed to have my parents.  They are the reason I moved back to Pueblo after living 40 years in Texas.  I have three wonderful children and three amazing and beautiful grandchildren, Yazmin, Josiah and Abbey.  My oldest son, Tim is a worship pastor in Las Cruces, NM.  He is married to Esme and the rather of my three grandchildren.  My youngest son, Jason is a high school choir teacher in Houston, TX.  My daughter, Tracy, is married to David Alfaro and is a high school counselor in San Antonio, TX.  She is currently in law school in San Diego, CA.

I love to swim, camp, an listen to all kinds of music.  I also love to watch movies and read. My favorite movies are those based on true stories and mysteries. I like to read historical fiction and biographies of famous people. I have traveled to many states in the U. S. including California, Nevada, Arizona, Uta, Wyoming, New Mexico, Kansas, Nebraska, Texas, Pennsylvania, and Florida.  My favorite places are Lake Tahoe, San Diego, Orlando, northern New Mexico and Ouray, Colorado.  My favorite things about Risley are the students and the staff.  I love the culture of our school.  I love that most of our students are form the East Side, my old neighborhood, and I love the mix of Hispanic American Culture that is so prevalent in our city.  The Pueblo slang and the Pueblo foods are things that are unique to Pueblo and our East Side community.  The environment makes it one of my most favorite places to work.

The choices we make today will follow us for the rest of our lives.  Choose friends that will motivate you to be a better person.  If the friends you have now are influencing you in a negative way, make the decision now to find friends who will influence you in a positive way.  Believe in yourself!  Think positive! Have good role models! Decide to overcome any challenge that may come your way! Think SUCCESS and you will succeed!

Jessica Garcia

I was born in Pueblo. I went to Roncalli Middle School, Central High School and then to Grandview High in Aurora Colorado. I attended Manhattan College in the Bronx to play soccer, tennis, and study Mathematics with an emphasis in Secondary Education. I became a teacher because I believe in the youth. I believe they have the voice to make positive change. I believe knowledge is power! I believe it’s our right to be educated then know how to find and use our resources. This will be my 7th year teaching. I have three sisters, two brothers, two sister-in-laws, a mom, a dad, two nieces, two nephews, all of whom I love very much. I enjoy playing all sports, thrift/antique shopping, yoga, painting, reading, remodeling, and spending time with my family. I have traveled to 21 different states as well as the District of Columbia playing club, college, and Semi-pro soccer. I’ve traveled to Argentina because I thought I was in love. I toured the central and southern parts of Ireland playing their native sport Gaelic football for the All Ireland Cup. I have also been to Costa Rica three different times as a group leader for a mentoring program. A few goals I have are: to finish my program at CSU-P, use my voice for positive and progressive change and to travel somewhere new every summer.

Mr. Mark Oreskovich

I was born at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, where my Dad was stationed. He was a Pueblo native, and my mom grew up in Colorado Springs. I attended Pitts Middle School and South High. I majored in English and minored in Music at Duquesne University, which is in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The Duquesne University Tamburitzans (an Eastern European folk ensemble) offered me a full, four-year scholarship to play music, sing and dance all over the U.S.I am passionate about great literature, and teaching gives me the opportunity to share that with other people. This is my third year at Risley, and my third year teaching full-time. I have a wonderful family. My wife, Ann, is an artist, and she teaches at PCC. My daughter, Molly, graduated from South in 2013 and is now studying to be veterinary technician (she loves animals!). The three of us share our house with a Golden Retriever, a Pit/Pointer mix, and a cat. My hobbies are spending time with my family, singing, playing music, reading, writing, skiing and birding. I have been to most of the 50 continental states (not Hawaii or Alaska), Mexico, Canada, Croatia, Serbia, Bosnia, and Ireland. My favorite thing about our school is the positive attitude my colleagues show every day. They are very caring, unselfish people. I also am very happy to have met many good students here. One of my goals for the future is to be a multi-gazillionaire author/singer/songwriter who tours the world! I also want my wife and daughter to be happy every day because they deserve that.

A Page from Risley’s History…..

Submitted by Mrs. Karen Olson


This article was clipped from a 1946 edition of the Pueblo Star-Journal.  The exact date of the article is unknown at this time. 

From the mid 1920’s to the fall of 1948 our school was called Park Hill Jr. High.  The photo of the students in this article was most likely taken on the front steps of the old Fountain School.  During the construction of the school building that was on the corner of La Crosse and 7th St.,  the third floor of Fountain School became the junior high from 1944 to 1948.  When the new building was opened it was given the name Risley Jr. High.  In the 1970’s it was changed to Risley Middle School. 

As we continue our journey into the newest chapter of our school, becoming Risley International Academy of Innovation, it is important to learn about our history and to preserve it.   If you know anyone who has Park Hill or Risley memorabilia please have them contact 549-7449 to donate.

Remember, you are the ones who are making Risley’s  history today!