All posts by Katharina Ronquillo

About Katharina Ronquillo

I like tacos.

SPED Teacher is a Home Run for the Baseball Team

BY MIA LUNA

Victor Lozano, a SPED teacher and assistant baseball coach at Chaparral High School, has been in the educational field for seven years, he has spent his last two years at Chaparral High school, and the rest were spent shared at Gadsden High School and North Valley Elementary. Lozano, also known as Coach Lozano to the school baseball team, has been a baseball coach for five years. Two of those years have been spent coaching the Chaparral Lobos. He has very high expectations for his baseball players; academically and behavioral wise. He expects to “have a good year, with more wins” and see more improvement with his athletes.

Since Lozano has experienced both elementary and high school, he’s found he prefers high school due to his experience at his last teaching position. He chooses to teach because he enjoys the interaction he has with each individual student.  What influenced him to be a coach also was “an impact of his experience”, such as, when he played as a kid and grew up to play in college. Lozano grew up knowing the sport, which inspired him to become a coach himself and help kids grow to become better athletes. In return for his dedication to the team, he expects “positive attitudes, with no complaints, just willing players who want to improve.”

Lozano attended Sul Ross University in Alpine, Texas, where he played four years of college baseball. He met Coach Rojas, another teacher at Chaparral, who he played with and was coached by.

Administrators Howling at New Policy

Being present and on time for school has never been more important than it is now. Previously, it was easy to replace an unexcused absence for an excused absence. It was easy for teachers to change a mistake in their attendance even weeks after the mistake was made. All of that is changing this school year with the implementation of the new Live Data policy.
The Live Data policy changes the way administration gets information, such as attendance and new enrollments to the main office. Previously, the information was sent out to the main office every 40 days, leaving time for mistakes to be corrected and changes to be made. This is why the New Mexico Public Education Department (NMPED) opted to change the policy. Now, all the data goes out to the main office daily, around four in the afternoon. This is why teachers must be sure all of their attendance is complete by the end of the day and also why students now have to put in their ID numbers to get meals.
Aside from the stress that the policy puts on teachers to be absolutely correct in all of their data, the new policy creates another source of stress for teachers and administration. Having to input the data by a specific time can often interfere with teachers’ normal schedules, causing them to either fall behind or lose track of what they were working on. The deadlines are extremely inflexible.
On the other hand, having the daily input helps to make sure that all of the data that is submitted is correct. This prevents faculty from having to go back to check 40 days’ worth of information because they only have to check the information for that day.
The new policy applies to the entire state of New Mexico, and was introduced quite abruptly with little time for New Mexico teachers and administration to learn how it works. As this is its first year, it may or may not continue into other years based on its efficiency this year.
Though the Live Data policy makes keeping track of things easier at the main office, it is causing chaos for teachers and administration at Chaparral High School. According to Janet Sustaita, the sports data entry clerk at Chaparral High, though data can still be changed days after it is input, a record is kept that reflects poorly on the teachers and administration.
These reports are causing schools statewide to become even stricter about students and teachers having correct attendance. The state expects a 95 percent attendance rate for schools, and when it is shown in the report that there are a lot of absences and that students are having to make up hours, it reflects poorly on the school as a whole.
“It is really important for both students and teachers to be present,” said Sustaita, “It affects not only them, but it affects the whole school.”

Welcoming Alex Viera

Alex Viera is a new social studies teacher at Chaparral High School

BY ARON JURADO

One of the new staff members at Chaparral High School is Alex Viera. Viera believes he is a good fit for this school’s social studies department, as he said, “30 years of experience in teaching will work well with this school”.

Viera received a phone call from Principal Rupcich inviting him to work at Chaparral High School. Thus far, he says Chaparral is a nice and enjoyable place. He plans to teach here five more years before retirement.

Viera’s teaching career began at the age of 23. As a teacher he taught at Guillen Middle School for eight years. After teaching there, Viera transferred to Bowie High School and taught there for 22 years.

Viera was born and raised in the city of El Paso, Texas. During his childhood he went to Alta Vista Elementary and graduated from Austin High School. Growing up, he looked up to his coaches and teachers, who inspired him to pursue the path of teaching. After graduating from high school, he spent the next four years attending UTEP and graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in education.

 

Passing Once Is Not Good Enough?

 

Senior Danny Vasquez testing in the Chaparral High School career lab

The overwhelming pressure that testing creates for students at Chaparral High School every April is powerful enough to crush even the strongest Lobo’s confidence.

I, along with other Lobos, have recently been subjected to New Mexico’s standardized testing, being forced to stare at a computer screen for hours at a time. During this time, it was quiet enough to hear clocks ticking and the sound of a pin drop, a factor that only helps to worsen an already overwhelming situation.

In the middle of an assignment in my fifth period world history class, the front office called me out of class without warning. Anxiety immediately built up, constricting my lungs and making my breaths choppy as I got up and walked haltingly to the office with a thousand thoughts racing through my mind and no idea of what was about to happen. I arrived in the office only to be redirected to the lab in F-hall, which meant that I would be testing, and this realization only made the situation more intense as I had not had time to properly prepare to take a test.

As a transfer from Alta Vista Early College High School, I had already taken and passed the PARCC tests for Algebra 2 and English 3. Upon arriving at Chaparral High School I was told that I would not have to retake the PARCC test, so I had not been studying or preparing in any way for those particular tests. Having this testing sprung on me was unfair and cruel, and I can empathize with other students who have been forced to retake the test.

I arrived in the testing room late, and it seemed as though I was walking in as a new student while everyone stared at me and the test administrators set me up to take the test. Because I started later than the other people in the room, I had a lingering fear that I would not have enough time to complete my test. I had to spend two long and tiring days completing these tests, time which could have been spent in class learning new material instead of repeating material that I had already completed and would have no positive impact on me. The only purpose of this was to show the school if I had improved in order to make the school look better in the eyes of the district and the state.

Is the torment of stress and test preparation really necessary for students that have already completed the tests required for their grade level? I truly do not think so.

Chaparral High School Teacher of the Year

CHS Teacher of the Year Maria Cristina Gonzalez instructing her sixth period chemistry class.
Chaparral High School 2016-2017 Teacher of the Year, Ms. Maria Cristina Gonzalez

 

Chaparral High School (CHS) is full of hardworking and dedicated teachers, but perhaps the most outstanding of them all is Maria Cristina Gonzalez, who was recognized as 2016-2017 CHS Teacher of the Year. Gonzalez gets along well with students and co-workers alike, which is why it is no surprise that she was chosen by her co-workers as Teacher of the Year.

“We have an awesome science department and I love my coworkers,” Gonzalez says, “The Spanish department is top notch, plus technology, math english, everyone in SPED (Special Education Department), OMG all of them are INCREDIBLE at this school.” Aside from her dedication to improving her students’ learning, she carries with her a cheerful demeanor and a kind attitude. The moment you walk up to greet her, you will be met with a warm smile.
Gonzalez first became a teacher 31 years ago, and has been teaching at CHS for three years, which she has described as “beautiful”. She currently works in the CHS science department as a chemistry teacher. Gonzalez became an educator because, as she explained, “We are a family of educators.” Her mother, father, brothers and sister have all spent time teaching or currently are teachers.
Aside from traditional methods of teaching, Gonzalez enjoys adding a bit of humor and perspective into her teaching. She considers not only her student’s educational advancement, but also their emotions. Gonzalez says, “I try to be super patient and remember I don’t know my kiddos problems, so I have to talk, talk, talk.”
Being chosen as Teacher of the Year has inspired Gonzalez to motivate more of her students to become educators. “It makes me realize how noble teaching is,” Gonzalez says, “I want to tell more of my students to be teachers.”
Though this is her last year of teaching, Gonzalez says that she enjoys teaching at Chaparral high school, saying that her favorite aspect is the one-on-one time with students. Pushing students to be motivated is what she feels she is most passionate about, and she hopes that she makes an impact on the lives of her students every moment that they are with her.

No Dollars for Dangerous Desert Dust Solution

Imagine walking across the Chaparral High School (CHS) campus when suddenly the wind picks up, blowing small stinging grains of sand into your exposed skin. These painful attacks are common experiences for Lobos at CHS. The parts of the CHS campus that are not covered by buildings are mostly covered by sand, which blows around in high desert winds and causes several issues for CHS and Lobo students and staff.

Students track sand (and mud when it rains) from their shoes into the building, contributing to gritty and sometimes dangerously slick school floors. This is not the only problem that the dirt presents. Aside from being painful, the blowing dust can cause several other conflicts, including sand piles building in unwanted places, such as the tennis and basketball courts, and aggravating some student’s allergies. Blowing dust can also get into fire alarms and set them off, causing disruption to classes.

Because sand presents all of these conflicts, CHS Principal Mark Rupcich has thought about covering the campus in desert landscaping. “It’s a beautiful campus and a beautiful building,” says Rupcich, “But it would be nice to have landscaping.” Landscaping would not only help the school look better, but it would also help hold down some of the dirt and prevent it from blowing in the wind.

Unfortunately, the school district does not have enough money to invest installing landscaping at CHS. The CHS campus is approximately 689,000 square feet in area and though most of this area is covered by Chaparral High School and the Pre-K, there is still a lot of land that would need to be covered which could cost the school and the school district more than 200,000 dollars.

Rupcich said, “Due to the fact that there is an extremely limited budget for the whole district, we will only be doing what is necessary.” Though covering the campus in landscaping would solve a few pesky problems, it is not considered a necessary action and therefore does not yet fit into the school’s budget.

There is another way that this gritty problem can be contained, however. Adding buildings to the campus will create wind blocks and help imprison the dirt. The school is planning on building a new gym in the empty lot south of the tennis courts which will cover a large section of sand that is currently grating Lobos. There are also plans to add new classrooms to the wings in the future. Both of these additions will reduce the amount of dirt on campus.

It is a fact that blowing sand irritates Lobos, and this problem will be addressed in the future one way or another.