All posts by Arnulfo Munoz

You can’t Grow a Lawn Without Water

Superintendent, Efren Yturralde needs to tend to his lawn and he is going to have to cut his grass a lot shorter than usual. New Mexico took a big hit because of the budget deficit and now Yturralde is left with lawn clippings.

Education is a big part of the state’s budget. It is actually a little more than half of the state’s budget. Since it is such a big part of the lawn, it got cut the shortest. Yturralde had to make cuts where it was possible. One of the first cuts that made a big impact was when Yturralde cut funding for transportation to many non-athletic competitions. Initially they were going to cut all funding for it but ended up paying half of the cost. “When I was told we couldn’t go, I was in the mix of anger and disappointment.—BPA works year round fundraising and I feel that when they took the funding, they took a part of me.” Said BPA competitor Evelyn Loya. BPA is program that prepares students for a specific field of work and them losing that program cuts means Lobos will miss out on so much valuable experience.

It has been rumored that in some parts of New Mexico, the K-3 plus program will be weed-wacked. K-3 plus is a program that encourages learning in students kinder through third grade. It is a 5 week program that prepares students for their upcoming year. Joanne Munoz is the head administrative assistant at Sunrise Elementary. As of right now the program is still expected run for the 2017-2018 school year but when she heard about the rumor, “If the program is eliminated, it can have a negative effect on parents who use the program as an alternate to daycare.” Isaac Contreras is currently a third grader and went through four years of K-3 plus and he feels that “They can’t take it away because it’s fun and we get to learn a lot.”

Another way the state is trying to save money is attrition. At Chaparral High School alone, three science teachers are retiring and one English language teacher will be surplused.

Cuts are being made all over. Yturralde had to not only cut his grass shorter but he had to stop watering some of his trees. In the sports department, “A couple of sports will be losing some coaching positions. In some cases it has been hard to fill some of those positions,” said principal at Chaparral High School, Mark Rupcich. So some sports programs will be losing their freshman teams. Rupcich is also unsure as to whether or not per diems will be cut but he said, “I hope not, that’s a matter of feeding a student or not.”

Yturralde is desperately trying to save his yard but it is quickly becoming drier and drier. Thankfully no weeds have shown up to make it worse.

In the End, It Was Fun.

I would have never thought that four years of high school would go by so quickly. I am sitting here realizing that it will all be over in less than three weeks. I say that I’m ready now but who knows how I’ll feel walking across the stage.

When I first checked in to Chaparral high school, I honestly fell in love. The environment was so different from that of the middle schools. That year our freshman team placed second in district and a winning season, but it wasn’t free and definitely not easy. We won so many games together because we always pushed each other to do better. Our freshman year we were a huge group of guys, and we thought we would be the same group all four years, but we’re maybe half of what we were. Although we are all still great friends it isn’t the same anymore. Juan, Mario, Andrei and I were the worst kids imaginable in geometry, but the best at the same time. We were freshman in a sophomore class filled with upperclassmen. We were gods to them, us four made teased them as a group damn near every day and Mr. Gomez loved it.

The summer after my sophomore year I took golf very seriously. That whole summer was pretty lonely because I focused so much on golf. Even though I didn’t get the results I expected, I had the time of my life playing golf. Five years with Coach Y, and all he ever really wanted from me was to find a good Christian girl. I never found one but I had my share of fiascos. My last few tournaments of the golf season were the saddest rounds of golf I took part in. I made plenty of friends to golf with on the weekend, but the thought of never competing again for a school truly brought down my spirits.

Senior year has been the greatest year of all my thirteen years of schooling. It was honestly a lot of fun. I did join basketball and it was fun while it lasted because I had to quit towards the end due to the fact that the golfing season was coming up.

In my AP history classes, Mr. Velarde was a great teacher. He really was. I had never learned so much but the work was a pain-in-the-ass. The work load was ridiculous. There wasn’t a single day we didn’t have homework. I think about it now and I really liked the learning so much about other civilizations and how the world has changed.

Overall, my senior year was the best. I slaved away a majority of the week at work in the afternoons so that on the days I had off I could have a great time with the best friends possible. I’m going to miss high school. It all ended too soon.

Chips Change Hands to keep Students in the Black

There is a black market at Chaparral High School (CHS) and the illegal contraband does not have to do with any sort of drug.  CHS has a multitude of students that are selling their merchandise of chips, burritos and candy for various reasons. Which leaves the hallways full of students crunching and munching on their way to class

Not a single student that was interviewed, and has not been caught selling food in school, wanted to be mentioned in this story. All of the students that are currently selling have no fear of being caught. “I’m not even worried.” Was a common response. These students have not been caught yet and do not think they will anytime soon. The students who are currently selling claim to make anywhere from $10 to $20 a day and potentially $50 to $100 dollars a week.

Students are selling for many reasons depending on what their situation is. There are students who are equally dedicated to their education and their sport. They want to give their absolute best to their choice of sport but may not be able to afford some of the equipment required. So they make the small investment to help their cause. One student athlete sells to buy her equipment for track since she does not have time for a job. Her main concern is her education but she is just as dedicated to her sport.

Rita Estrada was caught selling burritos. Her intentions were simply to pay for the cellphone she uses. She said, “The librarian saw me and made me give them their money back and made them give me back the food.” Rita might have gotten off easy, but when a security guard catches a student, their merchandise is confiscated and administration is notified to deal with the student.

Security guards at CHS completely agree with district policy. Guadalupe Quinones thinks the situation is past a money issue saying, “I understand why [they sell] but they shouldn’t because chances are students could get really sick.” She is not referring to the chips students sell but she is talking about burritos. There are a handful of students who sell burritos and who knows if they have any sort of certification or food handler’s license. This is the reason why Quinones does her best to catch these students and although they are hard to find, they are doing their best to catch these black marketers.

Principal Mark Rupcich at CHS is man who simply follows the rules. “First of all, we’re simply following federal guidelines.” The policy on selling goods at school will never change because, “it’s federally controlled. If New Mexico wants to continue to receive federal funding they need to abide by the law.” So students will most likely never be able to sell on their own will, freely. Rupcich says, with a “Heavy heart” he would not change the policy if it were up to him.

 

 

 

Cafeteria Cooks like Ninjas

Before the crack of dawn Juana (Juanita) Montelongo opens up the cafeteria saying, “I need to turn on the lights, ovens and take the temperatures of the refrigerators.” As the manager of the cafeteria

Although the workers have their own task to perform, they all have the same goal – feed the students of Chaparral High School (CHS) and a few teachers who must pay for their meal. . Montelongo manages 12 employees that fill in three roles: 7-hour cook, 4-hour server and temperature assistant manager. The students are provided with a free meal but the teachers and staff must pay $3.25 for lunch and $1.90 for breakfast.

Students are entitled to a free breakfast and lunch by law. https://www2.ed.gov/rschstat/eval/disadv/promisingresults/edlite-exsum.html

Sadly, a lot of leftover food is thrown away. By law, the food is for the students and only the students. Plates of food cannot be taken outside the cafeteria, except fruit. Other than that, everything else is wasted. It would be nice if the food could be donated or even sold to a farm as feed for animals. Montelongo says, “I would like to but we can’t” However, sometimes the food grows legs.

The kitchen area is immaculate. It is as if they were never there and the equipment was never used. That is the standard that Montelongo has for her employees. They not only have to prepare meals for the students at CHS but for the Chaparral On-Track Pre-K. A total of about 1200 meals. Around 130 being for the Pre-K.

The lunch lines might be long but they are not boring. Montelongo has the radio playing during lunch so that the cafeteria workers can keep up with the pace and students entertained while they wait. Montelongo said, “Mr. Rupcich is okay with it as long as it isn’t profane.”

Whether it is the music or Montelongo the staff are very motivated to do their job. They do it every day with a smile on their faces.

The Band isn’t all that bland

According to some band members, “The band is under appreciated for their efforts and many, many hours of practice,” says Kevin Vigil, drum major. Without the band, major events such as football games and pep rallies would lose intensity.

Most students are truly dedicated to their instrument. Many students have been playing their instrument since they were in middle school. Hector Flores said, “I’ve been playing the trumpet for six years.” All those years of practicing are paying off for him, but when all those combined years of practice come together for the band as a whole, they produce a beautiful sound.

The band has had success in the past, achieving high ratings in contests such as the Andress Marching Invitational and the Burges Band Festival. When the band travels to a contest, there is no first or second. They get a grading that ranges from one to five with five being the lowest. “Two is known as excellent and one is referred to as superior,” said Vigil. The drum major also mentioned, “We always get excellent or superior.”

Band Director Adrian Rios has been granted the honor of directing the Lobo band claiming he doesn’t just enjoy it, “I love it!” is what he wants people to know. Rios is in charge of all 10 sections and says “The whole band is important, but the drum majors really help out. They are like assistants, and that goes for any band.” The drum majors are Vigil and Jazzel Gutierrez.

Rios always expects the best of them, “I always have high expectations, it’s a matter of how bad the students want to be great.” With that, Rios sends a message to everyone, not just band players. If you want to be successful, you need to put in the proper amount of time and effort to master a skill.

Having a sense of Security

Lobos have the privilege of driving to school, but fall short when they would like to park inside the fence, protected from thieves and vandalism.

Students at Chaparral high school must pay for the privilege of parking on campus. The whole issue of parking has led to some unreasonable solutions. Students are parking behind the campus outside the fence.

Nine years ago, Mr. Diggs, the inaugural principal of the school, set the price for the parking stickers at $10. It has not changed since.  The price can be deemed fair and can also be considered cheap. “… You guys are lucky. Gadsden [High School] charges $20,” said Guadalupe Quinones, head security guard. To say the students have it easy is true, but why even charge the students to park on campus?

“It teaches students responsibility and shows them what’s in store for when they want to park at a college campus,” says Mireya Meza, administrative assistant/book keeper. Meza says the money is used for, “student activities and if sponsors need a loan.” She is all for charging the students to park on campus.

As much as security tries to stop students from parking inside, some students still manage to park illegally. “They [security] try hard to find out who they’re charging,” says Meza. This means security may have unjustly charged the wrong student. Guadalupe admitted that she accidentally charged a student, “I know I did two years ago, but the problem was addressed and resolved.”

“We should be allowed to park inside without paying because there have been many accidents ever since students have been required to park outside the school. It is also easier for students to leave school.” Said Kevin Faudoa.

Deep down the students just want to have a sense of security but that comes at a cost.

 

PARCC Test Proves to be Difficult

Last year’s PARCC scores for Chaparral High School varied from grade to grade. The freshman scores suggested that most of them would not have passed their eighth grade year. Opposed to the juniors, where two thirds of them flourished in language arts, but not so much in mathematics. Is this suggesting that students are not smart enough? Are teachers being too lenient with their grading and expectations?

The purpose of PARCC is to measure the progress of students and help establish a base. This helps schools and more specifically certain grade levels to focus on what students are struggling with. Peggy McLeod, Deputy Vice President, Education and Workforce Development, for National Council of La Raza says, “It is important to remember that these new assessments are testing students at a higher level, and their results are a new baseline from which scores will likely rise.”  http://understandthescore.org/wp-content/uploads/20one6/0one/National-Council-of-La-Raza-blog-English-finalone.pdf.

This “higher level” test proved to be too much for a majority of Lobo students. About three fourths of the class of 2018, did not pass either the ELA or Algebra 1 PARCC exam. That would be terrible right?  Only about one fourth of that freshman class was prepared for the test, the rest must have been surprised. Now we are back to the problem at hand. Is it the students or the teachers fault for the results?

Some teachers anticipated last year’s scores like Jerry Appel, English 1 teacher said, “The scores were what I expected…The cut-off score for passing was set to the equivalent of the 80 percentile score on the SAT.” Other teachers were surprised. For example, Blanca Ortega, English 1 teacher, said, “I feel in a way … disappointed … it leaves us a lot of room for improvement.” It seems to be that some teachers did not have high hopes for these students or with the way they performed on the test.

The administration did not have high hopes for the students either. Mark Rupcich, principal at Chaparral high School said, “I was very disappointed, but I anticipated it was going to happen. My biggest fear was that the students would not take the test seriously.”  When I asked him what he thought accounted for the poor scores he said, “I don’t think the students took is seriously.” His biggest fear became a reality.

Schools receive a grade from the New Mexico Public Education Department. Of which they grade schools on current standing, school growth, opportunity to learn and many other criteria. The school received a “D” level grade according to NMPED the school acquired a total score of 39.68 of 100 points possible, which missed an “F” by about two points. It isn’t based on traditional grading system where anything below a sixty fails. Gadsden ISD has provided the school with a new goal of 62.5 or greater, this would bring the school to level “C” . Other high schools were not too far off from Chaparral high school. Gadsden high school also received a level “D” grade report, Santa Teresa managed to acquire a “C” These scores come from, http://webapp2.ped.state.nm.us/SchoolData/SchoolGrading.aspx

There is a saying, “What you score on a test doesn’t reveal your true potential.” Let us hope that this is true for Chaparral high school since part of the criteria for the school’s grade has to do with the student’s scores on the PARCC test. On the other side the test is meant for helping students improve. The test does help improve students scores by telling teachers what they need to focus on. “It gives them results of where students failed in 4 or 5 areas,” said Campus Test Coordinator and Assistant Principal Sophia Payen.  We will find out if teachers and students cooperated to improve themselves and as a whole for the school.

  Hopes for fast food and long lunches are long gone.

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Every day, a half hour past noon, about 1,000 students ranging from freshman to seniors rampage to the only watering hole that is the cafeteria. Despite having four lines and serving four different dishes at Chaparral High School, some students still risk suspension by leaving school to buy food with their own money.

The following students anonymously responded, considering that what they are doing is against school policy.

“I leave because I’d rather pay $10-12 for food that I would want to eat, even though school food is free, it doesn’t mean students would prefer it.”

“I leave school during lunch because the lunch food is not very appetizing, and I don’t get enough. Whenever I get food from the school, it takes me a while because the lunch lines are so long.”

“The reason that I leave school during lunch is because, I believe that we should have an open campus in case we need to go home during lunch or simply go get something to eat. It would be food that I will be paying for, not the school. I understand that I cannot miss much school, which is why I always come back before lunch ends.”

Put yourself in these students’ shoes. You have a free meal provided for you every day for lunch, but still yearn for better. Four options! But still, you would much rather pay for a meal or at least be able to go home and make your own meal. Chaparral High School principal Mark Rupcich agrees with GISD School Board that students should not have an open campus.  Rupcich says, “I don’t know, but district says they don’t want it.” So, it seems to be that there is no chance of an open campus without the school board being on board.

The free meals provided for the students are funded by “The federal government”, because the school district is not financially able to feed two free meals a day to students.

You might think, what if parents get involved? “District policy, personally I want a closed campus-lengthy process,” said Rupcich. He explained how the matter would have to be brought up in a School Board meeting and the chances of it even being discussed are slim. Rupcich says, “The main reason is student safety.” The parents would have to be made aware of the fact that their children would be capable of leaving school campus to places unknown.The student might say that they are going to a nearby store or home, but there is no viable way to keep track of where the student goes.

 

 

A rain on our parade

 

For eight years Chaparral High School has had the same parade on the same route. During those eight years children patiently waited along the road in hope of a piece of candy to come their way, watch in awe as the band played in unison and the football players seemed liked giants blocking the entire road. Now most children will not be able to participate. There will be a parade but it will not have the same feelings. It has been drastically reduced.

Now that the parade is confined to the campus, citizens of Chaparral are distraught even Robert Bowermaster, the person in charge of the parade/marching, said “We would have greater community participation.” Bowermaster agrees the parade cannot have the same effect on the community when it just circles the school.

The Chaparral community was not allowed input on the new route but Bowermaster says, “It’s not up to the students, it’s an administrative decision.” Principal Mark Rupcich says “We haven’t put anything out in regards to the parade stopped just because it’s on a smaller scale.”

The parade route was changed because of a “Severe accident that we had where a student had a totaled car and four students in the emergency room,” said by Rupcich. Because of one accident, a treasured tradition was suspended.Scanned from a Xerox multifunction device001

A new king takes the throne in E7

There’s a new king in the realm of Chaparral High School. He can teach you the difference between a mitochondria and ribosomes, and could probably tell you why your dog is limping.

Joel King, was born and raised in Peoria, Illinois. It sounds like a small town but it’s actually the largest city on the Illinois River. King attended Peoria Central High School, and although he wasn’t sure about his ranking in his class, he knew he was smarter than the average student.

King attended Eastern Illinois University. He has a Masters in zoology which he 0.started in 1973 and finished in 1978. Now at the beginning of the story it said he could probably tell you why your dog is limping, that is because he studied for a while in Juarez

to get a veterinarian degree, but did not go through with it.

King as a relatively new teacher says he “Loves it”, and is not looking forward to retiring. Is he planning on retiring soon? “No”

King is a simple man and his hobbies are traveling and reading. He likes to read the newspaper. He also loves spending time with his family.

King has two children, but did he want them in the field of science? “I tried.” “My son is into computers and my daughter is studying international trade.” One cannot force dreams and goals into their prince and princess.

Was there anything that he could tell his younger self if he could”? “Save more money.” Funny how a king can’t save money.