• Disney Cruise Line: A Week at Sea (Editorial)

    A cruise is an experience that I never thought I could check off my list. My week at sea consisted of snorkeling, a first-hand look at downtown Nassau, a day at the beach, and world-class dining. Unfortunately a small setback for me, was also taking a trip to the Florida emergency room; that’s a story for later. This cruise was with Disney Cruise Lines and it truly was a “magical experience.”

    Day 1: The alarm went off early at 4:30 am. Me, my brother, and two parents crawled into the car to head to Denver International Airport. We get through security and grab some McDonald’s, the breakfast of champions. We have a smooth flight to Orlando, Florida. As soon as we land we make our way to the “Disney Magical Express.” The fleet of shuttle take passengers to Disney World. The rain painted a beautiful picture on our hour drive to the Disney World Park. After getting checked in, we received our Magic Bands; they serve as room keys and a ticket to anywhere in the park. The journey to find our room was quite a long one, weaving through hallways and up staircases. Once finding our old-fashioned room at the Port Orleans, Riverside Resort, we went the popular shopping area of Disney Springs. I tried fish and chips at an Irish restaurant, called the Cookes of Dublin. Next, my brother and I hit the pool. Then crashed to get rested for the next day.

    This was the last picture taken before my toe officially had the worst day ever.

    Day 2: Everyone in the family wakes up and we prepare our bags for Disney to take them; the next time we see our bags is in our room on the boat later that day. We get breakfast at the food court area a short 10 minute walk from our room. With time to kill, we rented a quad person bike, called a Surrey Bike, to ride around. My brother and mom ride in the front, and my step-dad and I ride in the rear, we head onto our next adventure. At one point, all of us got confused where we were going, so we decided to back up and turn around. In the process, I lost track of where my right foot was. It got caught in between the crank of the pedal and the frame covering the chain. By the time I realized what was happening, it was already through a turn of the pedal and pinkie toe was already suffering. We rush back to get a first-aid kit. The cut is much deeper than any of us thought. Because it was in between my pinkie toe and the toe next to it, the Disney employees called the paramedics. The first responders got me on the stretcher and wheeled me past all the people to the ambulance, and I instantly became the talk of Riverside.

    We went to Florida Hospital Celebration Health in Orlando. The nurses and staff helping me were very kind and it seemed I was the highlight of their day so far. I was given the important task of filling out that lovely medical paperwork. The doctor started with the lidocaine, to numb the area around the cut. It burned a little but, overall wasn’t nearly as bad as I anticipated. He delicately put in 8 stitches all around my tiny pinkie toe. After some instructions of what to do after leaving, I was discharged. My step-dad and I made our way outside. The next challenge was to figure out how to work the Lyft app to get back to Riverside. We ended up barely making it back in time to board the shuttle to head towards the boat.

    An hour later we make it to Port Canaveral. We make our way onto the boat and it just beautiful. It doesn’t feel like you are on a boat. The boat itself has 14 floors, more than 1,200 staterooms that hold at least one family each, 3 huge dining rooms, 3 restaurants, multiple pools, and even 2 movie theaters. Because of the morning we already had, all of us just relaxed in the room for a little bit. When the medical center opened, we went to see if I could get crushes to get out a wheelchair. Later, we went to dinner and had our first experience of the 5-course world class dining we kept hearing about. The food was amazing and the seafood was all fresh.

    Day 3: Our family was determined to be first at the breakfast buffet. We made our way to Deck 11 to get a beautiful view of the water with the sunrise. Next on our agenda was snorkeling in Nassau, Bahamas. There were some native Bahamians would led a group of us out there. During the 45 minute boat ride to the snorkeling spot, we passed magnificent houses that belong to various celebrities. The water was a vivid blue that I could have looked at forever. I unfortunately couldn’t join in, but I was also content just laying there and watching the water. The catamaran had nets that overlooked the water people could lay on at look at the fish and just the clarity of the water. After about an hour or two observing the water, we all made our way back to the port. Next stop was the Straw Market. The locals know how to lure in the tourists with hand-made products and cheap souvenirs. We walked around and got to talk to some of the people. On the long trek back to the boat, we got to people watch and be apart of their culture. It was enlightening to see such happy people. The rest of the night was full of just watching the water.

    The water was so clear that, even from the boat, you could see the coral and the fish.

    During dinner, we got to try some more amazing food. Disney had it set up so one waiter and his assistant would serve your family the whole time on the boat. Surya and Rashid were the staff with our family the whole trip. Surya was the lead server and would make sure were always happy. He would give us jokes and riddles to solve. He has been with the company for 11 years so he has a large stock-pile of brain teasers. He is also apart of a band, and apparently the head chef is the drummer; Surya would bring us things that weren’t even on the menu anymore.

    This was my sad attempt to keep my stitched up foot out of the water.

    Day 4: By the time we woke up, the boat was docked at Disney’s private island, Castaway Cay. We instantly took the shuttle to Serenity Bay, the beach strictly for adults. We found a group of four chairs. With some extra effort I got down to the edge of the water with my crutches to get at least some of me wet. I sat by the water just captivated by the endless horizon, the clear water, the coarse sand, the sound of the waves, the smell of the salt water, and the warm water hitting my not injured foot. Our relaxing day came to end so we could take a group nap back in our room on the boat. We ate in the dining room called “the Animators Palate.” The walls were covered in drawings of the characters we now love. At one point, the turtle, Crush, fromFinding Nemo would talk to guests while they ate. The coolest part is that he would have real conversations with you not just a robot repeating a message.

    Day 5: On our long journey back to Florida, we had a whole day to spend on the boat. Storms and clouds prevented us from baking on the deck of the ship. I found my favorite deck to sit on while everyone went exploring the ship. I worked on homework, my brother ventured to places on the boat me and my crutches couldn’t go, my mom went to the spa, and my step-dad took a nap. After the past few days of being busy, it was nice to just take a second and breathe. The third dining room, “The Enchanted Garden”, was based off of the Alice in Wonderland film released in 1951. With this being our last diner on the ship, we were all very sad to see Surya and Rashid go. Later that night, there was a firework show. We went to the adult bar all the way on deck 13, just so we could avoid all the kids. We watched the beautiful display if fireworks and then hit the hay.

    All three of the dining rooms were beautiful, but this one was by far the most intricate.
    The Dream is one of four of Disney’s massive cruise ships.

    Day 6: It was time to bid the Disney Dream good-bye. We got off the boat, to go through customs and border control again, to get on our shuttle back to the airport. After a long security line, we make it to our gate. We have a 3 hour layover in Houston,Texas. 15 minutes before we are supposed to board, they moved our gate and I finally got to ride on of those little golf carts to get there on time. Despite already boarding the plane, we have a delay and just sat on the runway for a little bit. It was peaceful. Finally we land in Denver, and make our safe drive home.

  • Cyclones Storm Mesa Ridge

    Pueblo West Junior quarterback Chandler Mason hands ball off to Junior fullback Tanner Tate, in the Cyclones blow out against Mesa Ridge. (42-0)

    Friday night at C. A. Foster Stadium the Pueblo West Cyclones took on the Mesa Ridge Grizzles. The end of the night came with Pueblo West on top ,winning with a shut out of 42-0.

    Cyclones defensive back coach Matt Howard commented, “We started a little slow, but… we finished a little strong. We’re getting better every snap. I think we’re starting to come together as a team and a unit,”

    Pueblo West’s defense only allowed 123 yards in the whole game and came up with three turnovers by senior safety Cisco Padilla and junior linebacker Ryan Patterson.

    The first half was a little slow for the Cyclones, only scoring fourteen points. Junior quarterback Chandler Mason uncharacteristically threw an interception, and also fumbled the ball.

    “The part of my game that stood out to me was probably the offensive line. They picked it up a lot from last week. The holes were massive, you could go for thirty yards on most plays.” commented senior running back Kolyn Kremer.

    The second half was when the Cyclones storm brewed, by scoring twice and getting a safety, helping the Cyclones defense shut out Mesa Ridge.

    “Our defense did really good. We had a 3-4 look instead of a 3-5, we put a safety back and that was me because Mesa Ridge threw the ball a lot. We executed it good. We stopped the run pretty good.” said senior safety Cisco Padilla about his defense.

    The fourth quarter came along and after the eight-yard run by Mason, the Cyclones decided to put in the backups.

    With their number twos in, the Cyclones defense stopped Mesa Ridge by getting an interception and forcing a fumble both credited to Patterson.

    After the interception, the Cyclones backup offense took the field led by junior quarterback Alex Reid.  After a short drive, Reid threw a touchdown pass to senior wide receiver Brett Finegan with 2:19 to go as the final score of the game.

    The Cyclones are now 2-1 and ready to take on the three-time 3A State Champion East Eagles for their next week matchup at Cyclone Stadium.

    “East is a pretty good team, we will just have to see what they look like on film” defensive backs coach Matt Howard said, looking foreword to the game next week.

    The Cyclones take the field at Cyclone Stadium next Friday at 7pm.


  • Editorial: Something Special

    He was 8 years old when I watched him zip across the pool for the first time.

    John Plutt had just won his first race, a short 25 yard dash, and he touched the wall before other children had reached half.

    Everyone on deck couldn’t help but stare at the small, skinny, kid with arms ten times too long for his body. He hopped clumsily out of the pool, a plucky grin on his face as his mother hurriedly rushed forward to wrap him in a towel. Even in the 90 degree summer heat, John was turning blue and shivering as he walked off to talk to our coach.

    Every swimmer, coach, and dedicated parent who got to witness this historic first dip into competition knew that they had just watched something- someone- special.

    Of course, at the time, none of us knew how special John would be.

    Fast forward a couple years, I’m 12 and John’s 10. We had been swimming together for two years now, and I had been there for every practice the kid had ever had. We were lane buddies, both of us just fast enough to swim with the senior group of our team, but not old enough to be part of the social circle that came with it. Obviously, getting ignored by the oh-so-inspiring high schoolers allowed for plenty of time for John and I to get to know each other. By the time I was in middle school, I had a second little brother, and a training partner for life.

    I remember when he made his first state time, it was at a winter meet, and we were some of the only kids who even swam during the winter for our small developmental club team. It was the 100 fly, I remember he broke 1:10, and I remember screaming so loud my voice was hoarse the rest of the day. He ran from behind the blocks to our coach, who sent him quickly over to his mom and I, who he attacked in the biggest hugs he could manage at the young age of 11.

    That was the moment John became something more, as a swimmer. He got hungry, he wanted to swim more events at state, and his work reflected that. He stopped playing other sports, and he decided he really loved swimming. As far as I know, he’s never looked back.

    That first state meet was the start of a long line of state meets, and lots of races that John won. I learned very quickly that John refused to lose.

    It was that desire, that dream to win, that propelled John to convince his family into letting him switch teams with me during his 6th grade year. We left for a more competitive environment, one where I could train with other girls my age, and John could try his might against some of the older year-round boys.

    So we left, we moved, and it was terrifying. I remember John being worried that the coach would be mean.

    Little did he know that Josh Cortese, our coach, would end up being the best person to prepare him for what was to come.

    Some of the biggest turning-point races in John’s life were at a small, summer-league meets.

    Josh decided to test John by making him swim in “The Open.”

    “The Open” age group, during summer, is for kids over the age of 15, but younger kids can be entered by their coaches. At 13, John happily accepted the challenge, he swam, and still swims, with these much older kids every day. He races them in practice, and he never backs down.

    He didn’t falter in the face of this bigger obstacle. He swam with kids almost five years his senior at that league meet, and for the first time ever John realized he was not limited to being good in his own grouping, He learned that, with hard-work, age really is negotiable. The older boys quickly took him into their ranks, and helped to train him to another level.

    During his eighth grade year, we carpooled to Pueblo County High School every day for swim practice. I got to tell him all about the joys of high school swimming, and I knew then he would make a splash in Pueblo. He was already competitive with the fastest kids in town, and he wasn’t even 15!

    That year, he won a state championship during club season in the 100 fly, and his confidence sky-rocketed. Watching him win that race was like watching him win his first 25. The same grin covered his face when he got out of the water, and the same kid who used to bargain with his parents for suckers in exchange for victories walked over to his mom and immediately said she owed him a whole coconut cream pie for winning. He didn’t focus on the swim, he just wanted some food.

    His first high school meet was characterized by people saying “Who is this kid?” immediately followed by “He’s a freshman!” I couldn’t help but smile every time someone realized what I had always known. There, right there, in this goofy 15 year old boy, was something very rare.

    I am inspired daily, by my swim-brother, who sets goals as soon as he breaks them. Who has never been complacent in victory, only working harder after a big win. A boy who, no matter the attention, always stays humble.

    Imagine every practice together, every tear shed, every sore muscle, and every huge “post-win” grin coming together at one time. Imagine every aspect of your history with a person coming to mind in a second. Imagine every moment of the past rushing in and intermingling with the present as every joking “I’m gonna win as a freshmen” becomes more than a possibility, more than just a dream.

    Saturday, May 19th, I watched my closest teammate, my family, touch the wall after the most important 100 fly of his life at the 4A state swim meet.

    Tears filled my eyes as the one appeared next to his name, and everybody else on deck watched as a lanky kid, turning blue from the cold, with arms still too long for his body received his medal. They were realizing what I’ve always known, “This kid is something special.”





  • Rabies Threat in Pueblo

    On Thursday, April 19, a woman and her family brought in their puppy that was having seizures. The staff at Mesa Veterinary Clinic went to work on determining a diagnosis. The dog was determined rabies positive after getting tested.

    Current practice manager and certified technician at Mesa Vet, Monica Harvey, explained, “It is possible for puppies to sometimes get seizures because they are so little.” They have high metabolisms and that can cause their blood sugar to drop. If their blood sugar levels drop too low, it can cause neurological complications, like seizures.

    In this case, the puppies blood glucose levels were normal and he was unresponsive to seizure medication. If he was suffering from just the seizures, he glucose levels may have been lowered. His lack to react to the medicine led the doctors to decide to euthanize the dog, because he was not getting any better.

    One of the symptoms of rabies is seizures. By following protocol, the clinic had to send the dog to the Health Department to determine if it was positive for the disease. The last positive domestic rabies case in Pueblo County was about 60 years ago, and this case breaks that streak.

    The biggest concern now is that rabies is zoonotic disease, meaning it can spread in between animals and people. At first, the woman claimed to have gotten the dog from an add online. It was later confirmed that they woman and her family lived downtown in Pueblo.

    It is hard to know how many people and other animals came in contact with the dog. Rabies is most commonly spread by the saliva from the infected animal. If someone has even a small paper-cut and they licked by the dog, they become at risk for contracting the disease. Because of this, one doctor and two technicians were sent to the emergency room for vaccinations.

    Newest reports have stated that the family had another dog but are refusing to euthanize it, despite it being unvaccinated and highly at risk for also getting rabies. The Pueblo Department of Public Health and Environment and Animal Control are increasing efforts to find the dog to quarantine it. The family, however, is noncooperative with authorities.

    Image result for mesa vet clinic pueblo
    1616, 1124 20th Ln, Pueblo, CO 81006

    Mesa Veterinary Clinic offers rabies vaccinations for $12. Owners can sign a form to not even have to pay for an exam, just strictly for the vaccine. Walk-in appointments are welcome. See more on their website.


    The Southern Colorado Spay and Neuter Clinic offers the same service. This inexpensive vaccine guarantees a year of protection from the disease. There is more information on their website.


    1700 S Prairie Ave, Pueblo, CO 81005

  • Boy’s Unified Swimming: For the Love of the Sport

    For Unified Boy’s Swim Coach, Diane Petkoff, everything is about the smiles. “I do everything I do for those happy faces,” said the Pueblo West High Security Guard in her office, pointing at a picture on the wall of four boys, each of them grinning from ear to ear.

    These four boys were the start to a program that has almost doubled in size since it’s creation, with 2018’s unified team consisting of seven members. “The growth has been the best part,” said Petkoff, “It’s through the support of people like [Pueblo West High School Athletic Director] Jamie Wagoner, and Jennifer Alfonso, who’s the Special Education Director for District 70, that we can even have a program like this.”

    Athletes; Taylor Salisburg, Isaiah Piazza, Nathanial Gonzalez, Eddie Weiger, Rylee Santisteven, Tony Taibi, and Jaeden Wagers, are all students at Pueblo West High School, and in every picture, share the same huge, toothy, grins as the four in the oldest picture hanging on the office wall. Taibi, the most social of the group, was quick in stating, “I love swimming! It’s my favorite time of year.”

    The importance of unified teams like the swim team at Pueblo West is simply that; the love of the sport. “Every year, it amazes me how happy the boys are just to get in and swim. It’s not for glory, it’s not for time. Their goals are small; completing a 50 yard swim without help, or swimming without a floatation belt,” said Petkoff.

    Practices with the team are relatively short, a 45 minute session once a week on Monday’s at the local regional pool, where the team practices alongside instructors from the Cyclone’s varsity girl’s swim team; Keely Fisher, Zoi Langreder, Maddie Derting, Brooke Holdredge, Isabell Osborne, Portia Roybal, Kylee Lamas, and Brooklyn Phillips. The boys work on improving their swimming abilities, gradually moving up to the ultimate goal; swimming a 50 yard freestyle without any help.

    Salisbury, Piazza, and Santisteven all have accomplished this goal, with Salisbury even being able to compete at varsity meets in non-exposition events. Gonzales, Wagers, and Weiger all use a belt but can swim unasisted. Taibi, had, until the meet vs. Cenntenial during the 2018 season, had needed a belt and a second swimmer in the water to assist. However, at this duel, a duel like any other for most swimmers, Taibi kicked a 50 by himself.

    “It felt really good, I’m glad I could do it by myself,” said Taibi after his event, overjoyed with the fact he made it across the pool and all the way back without assistance.

    Petkoff mentioned, “We’re working with Tony to get him into the shape to swim at state completely without Brook’s help.” The Team will be continuing work for the rest of the season, working up to a swim at the CHSAA 4A state championship meet before the finals of the 50 freestyle, as well as the SCL league championships.

    “I’m just glad to be doing this work,” said Petkoff, “The cheers at state, and the smiles whenever they get to practice or out of the pool, it warms my heart.”